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Here’s Presenting The Idiot Box At Its Idiotic Best

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By Charul Prabhakar:

Who was to know that swayamwars were going to be the next ‘in’ thing?

Well, I did. Come on, let’s face it, we all did. How can the melodrama-craving audience not bounce at the idea of a reel life, self-claimed and ‘dignified’ media ki beti Ms. Sawant getting married like a good, obedient Indian girl with moral values unlimited?

I remember how much I used to love television when I was a kid. From Byomkesh Bakshi to Hip-hip Hurray, from Movers and Shakers to Sarabhai vs. Sarabhai, Indian television evolved magnificently and there was hope for something even better. And now here we are, the phase I like to call, with as much subtlety as I can muster, Hopelessness.

Let’s take a look at the Indian television scenario today- If you think that you can write award-winning, critically and commercially acclaimed Hindi sitcoms/shows/soaps, then here’s the spoiler. If you are creative and brimming with original ideas, think that television can be used as a medium to promote enduring artistic value and consider ‘Buniyaad’ and ‘Tamas’ as brilliance in drama- pack your bags and go home. Because Indian television is not even remotely close to that.

To-the-point, smart and straight-in-the-face scripts/stories do not work for the contemporary Indian audience anymore. Whosoever said “Brevity is the soul of wit” must be turning over in his grave.

The Indian audience today doesn’t really care about ‘intellectual stimulation‘ or ‘nuanced narratives‘. Let’s face it, wouldn’t they be reading a good book otherwise? They are in a constant rush: making tea, packing lunch, attending calls, bickering with the domestic help, completing office work and loads of other miscellaneous activities. Would they be able to follow complicated, nuanced and intersecting storylines that way? Yeah, sure! That is why the camera has to repeat and stress a shocking twist at least thrice- “Kya, Kya, KYA?”; a song has to be played to glorify the tragedy, a ‘lalala lala’ in the background for a romantic or joyous situation and a new entry has to be focused on through a swift zoom-in. Otherwise, how else would we pay attention?

Talking about what is ruling the roost, the same old sagas since the last 10 years, which I like to call, in short, ‘The Great Indian Joint Family, Wedding, Extra-marital affair, Divorce and Tragedy’ Well, it does make a point. Everything starts with the joint family, and ends with the – Oops, it never ends. Anything remotely different from that just sinks and how. Even the reality shows are family-based now. ‘The Perfect Bride’, the God-forsaken concept of swayamwars on TV, even ‘Boogie Woogie’ has the whole family performing on stage. What’s with our obsession with families and weddings anyway? Are these the only sources of happiness in life? If you agree, it is just sad.

Even if someone attempts to make a ‘youth-centric’ show, say a ‘Dill Mill Gayye‘ (a show based on the lives of a group of budding doctors), it comes down to the female protagonist getting married a season later to someone she does not really like and the one she does like turns up one fine day after having vanished a long time ago. So like that, the youth just vanishes from the show leaving it with the same old, predictable and sloppy storyline. The youth today is ambitious, career-driven and adventurous. But the shows that cater to the young? They seem to be far, far away from it.

At the risk of sounding romantic for that era, I confess how I miss youth-centric shows like ‘Dekh Bhai Dekh’ (even that was a show for the entire family), ‘Circus’,Just Mohabbat’ and ‘Hip-Hip Hurray’. As students pursuing BMMMC (Bachelors in Media and Mass Communication), I hope that one of us would actually land up on the silver screen or behind it and put up a show worth applauding. One that leaves a statement on everyone’s lips- ‘That show must go on‘.

You must be to comment.
  1. Yash

    The kind of article that is required to be printed/published in order to have them understand as to why the youth will much rather watch an American sitcom on their computers than sit in front of their TV sets.

    1. Charul Prabhakar

      Thank you, Yash. I appreciate the support.

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        An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

        Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

        Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

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        Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

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        MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

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        A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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        As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

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        A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

        A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

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