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I am back chronicling on my TV-watching habits

Alright, let me prepare a shortlist first.

Shows I am watching nowadays:

English:

Friends: Can't describe my elation in words when the other day I grabeed the whole last season DVD at a boot sale for a mere £4. Watching 2 episodes everyday and relishing every moment of it. Personally I think Season 10 boasts of some of the bestest performances from the whole cast--just watching Jennifer, Courtney, David, Matt, Lisa and least of all Matthew perform makes you forget the ever-so-obvious inanity of the scripts. Matthew's underplay and timing is done so well that its almost made me forget his laborious and calculated over-the-top antics all through seasons 1,2,3,4,7,8 and 9. Loving the show to bits.

Lost: The story of 20-25 castaways has, if word is to be believed, something deadly sinuous at its heart which is my lone motivation for watching this 1 hour long weekly serial. As of now, have to bear with the building up of all the characters--which the director does through flashbacks (all are remarkably and decidedly Bollywood). Found the acting a bit put-on in the first few episodes but now that I have warmed up to them, every actor in there performs quite ably--never letting a single shade of their character going unnoticed and never ever shading the other actors in the same frame. Dialogue's sharp and frank too and the hurried camerawork, besides giving it a certain rawness keeps cluing one to a tension much deeper than what's seen.

Supernanny: Great concept that isn't botched up in execution as the American versions of Nanny 911 etc. Ditto for Wife Swap---the American version is way too over-the-top, calculated, cheesy and constructed. Brits are fab at documentaries--da best.

Top Gear: Probably the bestest motor-show on earth. So tongue-in-cheek, so saucy, so entertaining, so insightful, so well-researched and yet so utterly believable. Clarkson, Hammond and the third host I don't remember the name of, rock bigtime and just watching them drive 'tomobiles week after week, do crazy comparisons, country-legs, celeb-interviews and lap-times is a sheer delight. Probably the most unpretentious and genuine show ever. Wow!


Hindi:

Star Plus:

KBC2: Don't feel as compelled to switch to it if there's something else on (deja-vu at work?), but still love it. Big B--his style, baritone, comments, the questions, the aprticipants, the tension, the background score--its all there. Weekend nights sure have become juicier but 3 days a week? Just 3 days? That's a bitch.

Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi: The sob-athon carries on. Keep watching it off and on solely to watch what a huge bundle of talent Smriti Irani is.

Kkavyanjali: Amrita Singh and her villianous-saas act is the best in a long long time. The lady's got the most dynamic persona on the small screen and the expensive look that the soap wears just make her look all the more desirable. Oh damn all else--the actual soap is fukking crap.

Sony:

Fame Gurukul: The talent show that's taken a long time to grow on me. My take on contestants:

Rex: Talent: Immense. Voice quality probably the best here.
Attitude: Dunno if his street-smartness or his demeanour is in any way likeable. He's just awrite-- I won't care if he wins nor if he's kicked out.

Qazi: Talent: Almost as much as a bathroom singer. Voice quality appaling. Understanding of music even more so.
Attitude: Cockiness an absolute no-no. Way too immature and self-indulgent to be even close to likeable. Looks talented as an actor but a very bad copy of Hrithik in terms of personality.

Ruprekha: Girly-gorgeous but an appalingly shrill voice. Likeable otherwise and good understanding of music's grammar.

Arijit: Big bundle of talent. Simple and kiddish--but the boy's got what it takes to be a real singer.

Arpita: Charming looks-wise but her singing is way to superficial to impress.

Shamit: Fab mix of sincerity and intelligence. A wee bit too self-aware, I only get irritated by his shocking choice of songs (just to prove his "versatility"). Great singer... and has a fab sense of music.




Zee:

Sarrkar: Hit-and-miss affair now. Cheesy sub-plots ruin it-- a negative female character out on a revenge tour etc-- now how much of this do we have to tolerate. The politics angle is awrite--could get more gripping if only they didn't zoom into every character's face and play a slow lullaby in the background every time a dialogue is spoken.

Sinndoor Tere Naam Ka: The most filmi serial EVER. And it doesn't make any apologies for being so larger than life. Its breakneck speed is quite a revelation though. One episode carries more meat than 6 months of KSBKBT. Seriously.

More later.

So humongously boring!

With fresh episodes ER and Friends and My Family unable to catch up with me (Hold on! I meant something else!), my TV watching has declined from luxurious hours to petty minutes. Am in no indulgent mood to indulge in where every serial is indulging. But skimming over everything looks possible enough. So here's it:

Zee TV:

The headache of headaches--Tamanna House is finally dumped. Whatever happened to the creative team at Zee to have actually allowed this one on-air for (hold-your-breath!) 12 weeks? Anyways, let's not talk ill of the dead. The sadder part is, another sob-story which goes by the name of Tumari Disha has replaced it and the initial blurb (that of a protagonist sacrificing her lover for her sister on realising she's adopted) promises another torturous epic.

Another cheap replica of K-serials, called Reth-- promises to bring forth the agony of a rape victim. Leaving aside the fact how stinkingly and stereotypically its been dealt with by its makers, I don't understand the concept of showing something so depressing and regressive on screen during prime time. I thought television watching was all about relaxing and unwinding. Sadly, watching a weeping girl being smacked left-right verbally by every member of the house, night after night, pushes all the wrong buttons. Now let's reserve such stuff for weeklies maybe and have some talk shows, comedies, goofy sitcoms instead. Anybody listening?

The regulars of this channel-- Kittie Party and Lavanya-- barely deserve a mention. The former has got a heart-change and resembles a C-grade thriller yawningly stretched to fill up the half-hour slot while the latter is afloat thanks to above-middle standard camaradarie between the actors.

No, I don't watch Zee's other glycerin-infested soaps like Astitva, Piya Ka Ghar etc etc so shall wind up my comments with the hilariously conceptualised and presented India's Best: cinestars Ki Khoj-- a talent-hunt show that brings together every week wannabe-stars from every nook of India. A tacky cousin of Miss India, it promises half-hour of absolute buffoonery as we witness some 30-40 contestants trying to mouth dialogues, shake a leg, answer stupid questions from almost-established-or-rejected film personalities (masquerading as guests) only to be shown "IN" and "OUT" boards after every stage. Leaving alone its selection criteria, concept etc, exactly what's all the fuss about? Promising to bring forth talent from every corner of the country, the show's only going to select 2 from the thousands who participated. Exactly why is so much money wasted in erecting sets in different cities etc when finally a handful of them are going to make it? I bet with the time and shoddy effort they are taking to bring in 2 newbies to the industry, dozens are flowing in far more easily through other routes (and they do!). A pucca time waste for all those who participate, who are involved and who watch this migraine-inducing stuff.

Sony TV:

Though there's no limit to which Zee sucks, Sony TV seems to be catching up. Just look at the line-up they have for prime time-- Jassi Jaissi koi Nahin, Kkusum, Hum 2 Hain Na, Ayushman and yeh Meri Life Hai. 5! Yes, 5 absolute pakaoo serials in a row! No, I won't talk about any of these as besides hating them from the bottom of my toe-nail, I haven't got a clue exactly which Indians do these talk about. Where do we see such weird characters, and who lands up in the weird situations the characters in these land up? Exactly what are these? Who are the people making them? And who in the world is watching them?

Looks like the best way to deal with life's biggest questions is to not ask them. Sigh!

And the show-world keeps rotating...

FOUR damn years. And this Sakshi Tanwaar (old Parvati and now Swati Dixit) of Kahaani Ghar Ghar Kii still needs some hardcore classes in voice modulation. Just watching her struggle to stretch her funny and hammy vocal cords yesterday calling over to her old husband Om, who's had a new Parvati (a much restrained n poised Jaya Seal), gave me some much needed laughter. As the day draws closer as to who actually is the real Parvati, I expect the revelation to be damn damn damn stupid. And yet I await it. Because I am as clueless as the characters crowding this daily. And this cluelessness is genuine.

Okay, I'll confess this. There's a degree of earnestness visible on the faces of almost all the characters of KGGK that's hooked me to it for years now. I might have skipped it for months in a row, but it just takes some one episode to rope me back into their eccentric, howl-n-cry melodramatic world. What roped me this time around was the dilemma the new Parvati goes through as she undergoes a cosmetic surgery. The introspection of the character was in fact handled so sensitively, it did bring a lump or two in my throat. But yes, with all the muck about the old Parvati running off to Australia to some mission and planting a whole new woman posing as herself just around the corner, it all seems like a good cause down the drain.

This drag about revelations seem to have caught up bigtime ever since Ekta's cast her eye on the idiot box, and seems to have finally infected Kkehna Hai Kuchch Mujhko where the otherwise smart-n-savvy Pallavi Joshi still doesn't catch the twig in his libidinous hubby's beard, making us wait for one more week for that one shamelessly entertaining aamna-saamna. You just can't keep an actress of Joshi's caliber down and its so visible in the nuances and layers this lady adds to even the most monosyllabic characters she plays(remember Justujoo and Bhanwar?). Case in point the last episode where she comforts her teenage daughter (who looks more like her younger sister) from the boyfriend-dilemma; the compassion, and the sincerity was so high in that one scene that I realised that for a performer, its the maturity that matters and not a trivial measure like age (its another thing that there are 19 year olds masquerading as mothers of 25 year olds, but we'll talk about it some other day.)

With Achint Kaur again hogging some screen time on Kittie Party, life and direction seems to trickle in after a long time here. But the hangover from months of uncontrolled hamming by Poonam Dhillon, Kavita Kapoor, and Kunika will take some time to wear off. The whole track of Kavita getting stabbed, her new psychotic friend from Dubai dropping suddenly and drooling over the haggard Kiran Kumar, and the re-entry of the witchy Kunika and Lolo in the scene has given this serial much disgrace. Can't understand why suddenly makers resort to such beaten-to-death C-grade sequences. Hope this shall revive for the better.

Oh yea, Zee's new take on prime time "Tamanna House" is so tacky, artificial and howlarious both in its writing, conceptualisation and execution that one's better off listening to some gobbledygook by Shekhar Suman. While the squeaky Ruby Bhatia looks again too thin for her evening gown (supposedly this is some bizarre murder mystery where the couple-Ruby and Jas Arora are partying on their divorce. Only 10 guests are invited, but neither of the couple is allowed to ask the guests who has invited them or they'll end up paying 5 crores...duh!), Jas Arora can easily give Armaan Suri of Jassi some competition in animated histrionics. The only respite in this over-the-top hamming machine was the cocky Uppassna (abba-dabba-chabba lass from Judaai) whose comic timing as the phunny and influential female don triggered some genuine laughs.

While definitely there are two nerve-wrecking motion pictures waiting to trigger dormant migraines courtesy Salman-bare-all-Khan (Mujhse Shaadi Karogi and Garv), the reason why I wanted to chip this para in here is because one just can't get enough of Shilpa Shetty. She does all that butt-busting, waist-snapping and belly-shaking with such wild abandon, rigour and fluidity, that one can't help but slurp and slurp and (okay, I'll spare the details).

Oh yea, catching up with unseen seasons of ER first thing every morning is such a delight... wow! Maybe I'l have a separate blog for ER, whatsay?

Friday and Saturday chronicles!

Politeness and courteousness reaches Everest-ian heights every Friday night in Zee's SaregamaPA and Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai. As the host of the trendsetter talent-searcher, singer-n-host Shaan's sainted, almost beatific body language (does this man ever stand without his hands obligingly closed in greeting??!!??) is almost sincere; its the unneeded overkill by the makers that sets in some hilarity, maybe even pretention. Atleast that's how I felt when Shaan kept bowing before his judges (Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy) for even cracking simple jokes. So much so for respect.

It feels even more awkward to sit through an hour of eulogies, congratulations, compliments, and kudos in Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai. Even more so when someone like Farooque Sheikh has to keep praising the likes of Amrita Arora to the seventh heaven (you haven't forgotten Kitne Door Kitne Paas, Ek Aur Ek Gyarah, Dilli ki Sardi, and Girlfriend, have you?). That one particular episode still sends me chortling as I remember the choreographer busy hallelujah-ing Amrita as the most dedicated actress today etc etc while the camera zoomed to show Amrita in her underclothes, enjoying getting drenched in the shower, and giving those come-hither-me expressions. No awkwardness here on my side, but the expressions of Farooque and Amrita after the clipping took the cake.

The next Friday had Sunidhi Chauhan with the whole bandwagon of music directors sugar-coating her (quite rightly so.. she indeed is amazing), but an absolute finger-on-your-lips attitude adopted by the makers to shield her disastrous personal life (okay okay for the uninitiated, she ran away to get married and wasn't accepted by her family) made the whole 1 hr seem such a farce. Why adopt such diabetic attitude, I wonder. JIKNH has sadly joined the august company of all the socialite evenings and award functions run for the TRPs and give some ego-boosts to the insecure stars and starlets.

Of course there are some flashes of earnestness, which mostly rest on the celebrity guest's shoulders, like yesterday's guest Arshad Warsi who looked so genuinely excited about having a whole episode dedicated to him, that couldn't stop baring his teeth for the 40 minutes I survived of the episode. 40 minutes, did you ask? Oh.. too much sugar consumption on television means I am on insulin now. All it takes to get normal is an insulin injection.

Seeing the television industry suddenly rivalling its bigger sibling, the film-world in pretention is another reason to switch on the idiot box now and then. It only takes a mere glimpse of Star Parivaar Awards (in which every actor having even a 5 minute screen time on Star Plus gets a trophy, for if he's not nominated in Best Beta, he'll be in Best Yogya Damad, or maybe in Best Damad, or better still, Best Devar, or lastly, Best Pati.... duh!), to puke out every morsel that you had the misfortune of gulping down at the dinner table. Forget logic, forget novelty, okay okay forget the done-to-death tear-wiping, sorry-this-award-doesn't-belong-to-me speeches... these awards easily make probably the most disappointing benchmark of how dumb Indian TV and its audiences are. Very sad indeed, for Star Plus is what gave India probably its most entertaining moments ever in Kaun Banega Crorepati. C-grade films are a better bet anyday than these woefully pathetic soaps on this channel. Proof enough that in today's world "crap sells".

Of course whatever little time I caught at breakfast, lunch and dinner, must say its quite a delight to see a refreshed B4U and the wonderrful list of movies being shown (Khakee, Pinjar, LOC, Tehzeeb) after more than 2 years of slumber, catching up with the eye-candy of Asoka after 3 years was quite refreshing. Leave aside the Shahrukh's designer attires, and Kareena's ghost-pale complexion and the film still stacks up as one of the few watchable films that weren't made simply to send cash registers ringing. Okay, its probably the loudest slap India's history has ever got from Indian cinema, but the sewn fiction and haunting music is surprisingly very classy.

And what the f is the host of Masand Ki Pasand upto. I've liked this guy for his no-words-minced attitude, but his interviews have lately spiralled into something shamelessly cheesy. As if him commenting on Akshay Kumar's or Salman Khan's body-shape in the previous episodes wasn't enough, today was an ultimate moment, when the guy interrogated an ever-breathless Mahima-pardes-Chaudhary "Aap pehle se kaafi sexy lag rahi hain". Looks like someone here is a Shekhar Suman fan. Glad, in such a scenario of Masand, Suman, Ruby Bhatia, sanity on celeb-shows is maintained by the likes of Vir Sanghvi. Maybe all it takes for the nitwitted is to open their dictionaries and look up words like candid (and crude), blunt (and bum).

Of course I am done for today.

The first blog on my TV-watching habits!

I am no connoisseur in reviewing television, and I'll be unapologetic about this fact all through. So, if at all, while reading it ever strikes you how obvious the stuff is, then that's because it is. Indian TV is too obvious and its viewers (like yours truly) more so.

So generally speaking, its basically my own experience of watching some of the most popular television soaps (which is what I have started to do daily, all thanks to the finished exams) and I have planned to keep this as light as possible. Though any attempt at humour is purely, I repeat purely incidental. I can't be funny when I write. And I can't write when I am funny.

Starting on a funny note, it took me some weeks to recover from the shock of My Family (for the uninitiated, its a British comedy-of-errors) being snapped off air and Star Plus's SaamneWaali Khidki does provide some decent respite. For starters, there's Archana Puran Singh (who, I humbly think is one of the best comedians around) and her wild-wacky face-churning expressions can easily have anyone in stitches. The surprised, bossy look she sports for her no-holds-barred working woman role is rather very tastefully overplayed by this female Jim Carrey and it took me sometime to actually believe that indeed there was such fantastic sarcasm in this one. Fab one-liners and very fresh indeed. If only, Star could dump those Shaka Laka Boom Booms, Son Paris, Hatims, Trikaals to give this one a decent showing time. As of now, the viewing time-table is definitely atrocious for I still can't fathom why on earth would someone be in a mood of watching this at 8-8:30 am (holy cow!) and 5:00 pm (tea-time, anyone?!)

Thankfully, Star's other comic caper Khichdi continues its riotous charade. The Parikh family incidentally had a basketball match and besides the usual Hansa-Prafful retarded talks (today Hansa asked: "Hai Hai Prafful, yeh victory kya hota hai", to which Prafful replied "Hansa... nakli baalon ka pedh hota hai na.. bas wohi to!" The guy had actually mistook victory for wigtree ROFL stuff). But what took the cake was the conversation between Babuji and their sardar neighbour Parminder. Actually Babuji wanted the ball from this nitwitted guy and this is what he and his nephew said:

Babuji's nephew: Arre parminderji, aapki zip khuli hai!
The Sardar searched his shirt buttons.
Babuji (to his nephew): Arre naalayak, tujhe pataa nahin hai, iss sardar ki ganga ulti behti hai. Dekh Main kya karta hoon.
Babuji (to Parminder): Bete parminder, tere collar ko kya hua.
The Sardar frantically starts checking his trouser-pockets, leaving the ball in the struggle. (All this to our mirth!)

I really won't be surprised if Khichdi acquires a cult status. It really really deserves it.

Talking of "k"ult status, the Ekta's K-series seem to be in a league of their own. Kahaani Ghar Ghar Kii now actually has 2 Parvatis. Yup, while the usual saree-clad jagmaata has got a new face (and a new actress, meaning some respite from Saakshi Tanwar's woefully artificial screechings), the old Parvati (Saakshi) has funnily got a twin in, guess where, Melbourne. But of course, Saakshi's valiant attempts to mouth English dialogues and screech maintaining a make-up laden face absolutely intact all through is still there. In fact there are so many bloody co-incidences that the newfound twin which Om thinks is the old Parvati, and sillily enough keeps barging into her, mouthing "Tum Hi Parvati Ho na", is everywhere. If grapewine is to be believed (as Star UK is one month behind the Star India), the newfound twin is the ACTUAL PARVATI. Now can you believe that??!?? Why would someone run away from her own house, pretend to be someone else's family, fiancee and lambast her own family? Even plant another woman in her own place?? Shit.. I wonder how such retrogressive stuff finds its audience. And boy it really does have an audience.

Quite the opposite, the other "K" serial, Kkehna Hai Kuchh Mujhko, which has the brisk and saucy Pallavi Joshi playing the wife in search of her identity (yawn, yawn!)is suddenly being so holy that she doesn't suspect her husband's extra marital affair even when not one, but two letters from the maternity clinic arrive. Now, now... did somebody sing "Main to aarti pukaroon re, apne pati ki". Thankfully, the saintly wifey has gone to the clinic and finds herself facing both her hubby and souten sitting comfortably opposite the doctor. The confrontation scene is due for next weekend. I'll keep you posted LOL. The serial thankfully speaks and feels a language that's younger than the normal "K" bandwagon but the usual present of bitches and dogs still hurts me.

Mediocrity has become synonymous with Zee and Sony considering the efficiency and frequency with which they are churning out grossly unwatchable stuff. Zee's Lavanya is as old as moulded bread and the writers seem to be in too heavy a hangover of Bollywood. Ditto for Kittie Party, which has deteriorated to such a level that even a glimpse of it while surfing channels gives me the shivers. Quite a pity considering it boasted of some very seasoned and natural actors like Shweta Salve, Achint Kaur, Kavita Kapoor and Kiran Kumar. Had this blog seen the light of the day a few months earlier, I might have jotted a para down on Kittie Party, but now by doing so, I am not sure to whom it would be a disservice-- my time or my blog.

Talking of Shweta Salve, the brilliant lass makes a radiant entry to a soggy Jassi Jaissi Koi Nahin and the serial might soon see its hay days. I can't tolerate the nonsense on play there for a minute, but catching a recap after eons revealed that there's some depth sinking into it finally. Always wondered how can someone as pea-brained as Armaan suri could run a fashion house. To top this all, Mr.Apoorva Agnihotri is rather too animated, too pretentious and too artificial for my liking. And so is Parmeet Sethi, who, of late has taken his sidekick job rather too seriously. The caricatures of Jassi's best friend Nandu and her father are as inconsistent and as confusing as Jassi's irritating attire. This supposedly "realistic" fable comes as unstuck as Sony's other dent at middle class, namely Yeh Meri Life Hai. Infact the resemblance in the characterisation between the two protagonists is so uncannily similar (all this exagerrated self-pity, sob-queen), that one can easily keep watching one and be assured of having the track record of another.

Rather afraid of ending this blog on a bleak note, the two flashes in the pan definitely come from Sab TV and Zee. Kuchch Dil Se, a talk show on Sab, hosted by clap-and-I'll-cry Smriti-Tulsi-Iraani comes up with such socially relevant topics everyday, that its almost enlightening. Today's kick at Indian spurious-drug industry (which is, incidentally, a business rolling in millions of lives and money) was very well-pronounced though the dignitaries called on the set were so squeamish and diplomatic of offering any relief to a victim's father of one such fake life-saving drug (his daughter--awaiting neurosurgery--is awaiting compensation for 2 years), that it was shameful to even sit on your couch and watch it. There was Smriti at one end asking at the top of her voice "Can you offer any relief to this father?" "Can we have advertisements on companies under scrutiny for the common man?", and the MDs and President of Nicholas Pharma were dumb! Simply beats me!

Zee's short-story thriller show, Kaun, filling up the 2 weeks between the gawdawful Manshaa (did anyone actually watch this?) and the seemingly interesting Tamanna House showed two entertaining and chilling stories. Nothing pathbreaking, but very unpredictable. Seasoned performances, and know what... each of them just 4 episodes long. Now, in today's TV world which is driven by TRPs can you beat that? Incidentally enough, the show shall be shifted to the already packed 11:00 timeslot to dump Zee's yet another fiasco "Lipstick". Thank God for such nano-mercies.

Of course, much of the drama today was provided by the Tehelka folks with another "revelation" of medical certificates being forged by a doc in mental asylum to declare wives mad and hubbies free from their clutches. Quite miserable indeed, but my first reaction was "So what's new?" And yours sincerely Star News chronicled the whole episode shamelessly for the whole of 26 hours today.

So much so for sincere journalism!

An exasperated Karann now exits!
 
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