>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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