>Of Comas and Full Stops

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Television serials of today sprout nonsense like no one can ever imagine.With a wafer thin or in most cases,a non existent storyline,cardboard characters and an ample supply of dangerous looking makeup,today’s telly soaps provide entertainment in very unexpected channels.These soaps last so long that one can just sneak a peek every two or three months and still grasp what is going on.A very popular character from a soap,a young child bride,cute but mostly annoying,was shot in the head in one of the episodes.In normal life cases,such a fatal shot can only result in instant death with the brains lying all around the body.But no sir,you see,our soaps are never normal.So instead of dying,the child bride slips into a convenient coma only to be revived with the magic touch of her child husband.And when she wakes up,she transforms into a geometrical entity as she keeps on muttering,”main cone hoon?”.So,along with providing us with continual laughs,our soaps also impart mathematical education.Yes,math plays a great role in all of our soaps.Generation leaps,number of kids from a number of husbands,the never ending supply of dishes coming from the gigantic kitchens and the country of people,ranging from a hapless baby to grandparents who refuse to die,telly soaps are a source of math lessons.

Another quaint feature of these soaps is the phenomenon of plastic surgery.Again,veering off completely from real life,a plastic surgery means the utter and whole transformation of the person’s face,height,weight,gait,manners and makeup.People coming back from the plastic surgery room look 200% different from what they were when they went in.Also,it is only in our soaps that a character can return happily from the dead.Sometimes people start stirring on the funeral pyre itself.Quite a spooky experience,that.

The trend now is to focus on the rural parts of India.Every channel worth its name has a dozen soaps on rural problems on air at any given time.Why this sudden interest in rural India and its problems,I will never understand.There are very serious issues like poverty,illiteracy,unemployment,farmer suicides,child marriages and dowry deaths still prevalent in our country today but none of the so called “social issue soaps” ever do any justice to them.All we see is ample glorification of the problems without any concrete steps to rectify or correct them.Almost all of the serials start on a promising note but there is very little stuff to go on with and most fizzle out in the first month.From then on,it is an exercise in futility.If the fictionalized soaps are no good,their “real” counterparts are even worse.Reality shows today are simply too horrible to watch and most of the times,even embarrassing.No aspect of our lives is private now.Everything is visible on camera for everyone to see.Certain shows cater to the supposedly brave and adventurous,some are the routine song and dance shows which continue to wreak havoc on people’s minds,some are plainly voyeuristic and some are downright shameful.The cherry on the cake is taken by two recently held reality shows which displayed the discomfiting spectacle of getting married on national television.While the first show was a sham,when the “couple” parted ways soon after,the second one had an actual wedding boomed through cameras into our living rooms.How long can such a marriage last is the obvious question.
To say that there is an absolute dearth of original content in today’s telly world would not be untrue at all.And those poor souls who do manage to come up with original content are not given primetime slots nor the importance.Offbeat shows,like the ones coming from the stable of a well respected filmmaker have hardly found any takers.Let’s face it,we as an audience,are not ready for anything novel or imaginative.Somewhere down in our psyche,the good guy always has to win,he has to have the best looking girl hanging onto his arm,the bad guy is a bad guy no matter what,rich people always exploit poor people and in any abuse cases,the victim is always to be blamed.Any deviation from this well ingrained conditioning is certainly not welcome to us.It is not the telly soaps,but we,the people who are regressive in our acts and mindsets.Until that changes,there is no hope for redemption.Let the “main kaun hoon” phenomenon continue.

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>My Review:Rann

>I admit it,I am not a fan of RGV.The only movies of his which I liked were Satya,Bhoot and Sarkar.After the colossal debacle called “RGV ki Aag” and other lesser mishaps like Agyaat,there was some amount of trepidation as I sat down to watch Rann.Of course,the movie had everything going for it.No songs,a storyline,credible actors and fully clothed females.Now all that remained was the watching of the movie.
It started.Painfully honest and conscience worshipper media baron’s TV station is slipping in the TRP rankings.Wilful,over ambitious and restless son wants to take over the reins and herald a new era.Pure souled journalist and the media baron’s ardent fan joins the station to follow his footsteps.Media baron’s soulless son in-law joins hands with a politician(corrupt,of course) to gain his own ends.Debonair and practical rival TV channel’s head honcho gloats about his channel’s popularity.Bomb blasts occur,a fellow politico is blamed and the footage is shown by media baron’s channel.This incident throws everyone’s life out of gear.How the real culprit is found out and how power equations change form the crux of the story from this point onwards.
Rann tells us who the characters are,what they believe in and who did what at the very outset of the movie.What is sets to reveal till the end is the see saw of emotions,the role of facades and character masks.Amitabh Bachchan as Vijay Harshvardhan Malik is surprisingly tepid and lukewarm.The only time he scores is when he is shown sitting besides the dead body of his son.Reitish Deshmukh’s Purab Shastri comes across as mechanical and disinteresting.No doubt,some sequences do leave you sympathizing with him,like when he realizes the double nature of people around him.His despair and shattering of trust does not show through.He gives a sincere,albeit just-so performance.Rajat Kapoor as Vijay Malik’s son in-law is as usual,cynical and cunningly played.I do believe that he is getting typecast.Paresh Rawal is excellent as Mohan Pandey,the politician who wants to become the chief minister.Suchitra Krishnamurthy as CFO Nalini Kashyap is okay;there is not much scope for her to go on.One feels the need to mention Rajpal Yadav.What first seems as a loud and disturbing character eventually begins making sense towards the end,especially the sequence where he interviews Rawal’s character.Mohnish Belh as Amrish Kakkar,the rival channel head is very good.He is one underrated actor.Gul Panag,Neetu Chandra and Simone Singh are totally wasted.Finally,the guy who plays Jai Malik,Vijay’s son is good in parts and indifferent at times.His death sequence surely is different;without any melodrama.
The screenplay is good,but it does drags in parts.If the first hour goes by slowly,the second hour is riveting and gripping.The missed call sequence and Purab’s interview with Pandey are good writing bits.In the whole movie,Jai’s character is the actual victim.He represents high ideals and young anger which is completely misdirected and harnessed by other people to gain their own ends.The movie also raises a pertinent question-what is the actual role of the media today?The TRP wars nonwithstanding,how far are we willing to go to ensure that our views are heard,our channel is the best?Are we willing to manipulate the truth to such an extent that in the end,everything becomes a distorted reality?What is real and unreal anymore?Can we depend on the news telecasts or the famous “breaking news” segments?
Rann works because it neatly delivers a message by utilizing some of the best acting talents of our country in a very matter of fact manner.Rann means a warzone,and that is precisely what our media has become today.I am not a critic by profession but as a viewer and a connoisseur of good cinema,I have to say that none of the characters touched me or stayed with me after the movie was over.The writing was taut but not entirely spellbinding.And there was no closure,so to speak.Rann may not be a high grosser at the BO or be singled out for mention for praise,but it certainly is good,strong cinema with a significant and relatable message and a deeply thought provoking question.