Do you miss the golden days of Indian television when the likes of ‘Salma Sultan’ and ‘Rini’ were a must-watch? I still remember the flower and the poise!
And Githanjali Iyer
Those were the days!! The elegance, poise and subtle glamour.
When compared to the current state of country’s TV channels, those past days indeed look golden. Not that we lack the ‘masala’ and the dramatic dialogues and headshots today – courtesy of the spectacle put on by Arnab Goswami every day – at least back then we knew what’s real and what’s fictitious. Now, that fine line, to much of the unconcern and ignorance of viewers, is smartly blurred by propagandists who are clad in a suit, tie, bhagwa, and pseudo-ism.
These days, a lot of what we consume on Indian television – if not all – touts a glam of sensationalism that’s dipped in rumors and lies. In fact, the extent of this problem is so critical that while a few years back news channels would only subtly fabricate the stories, they are now doing that oh-so-proudly and blatantly under the garb of nationalism and government’s influence.
And who would dare to go against the current nationalistic stream and be called anti-national?!
The controversy selected mainstream media unnecessarily stirred, 2 years back, against Amir Khan for confessing that his wife once suggested leaving the country, is still afresh for its horrifically hidden agenda of starting the Hindu-Muslim debacle (again) in the shade of chauvinism. This attempt, although predictably was taken up by the right wings, was also a 5-star story for media channels who decided to sell their journalistic ethos and souls altogether. This was their 5-star story when tens of farmer in Maharashtra were committing suicide.
Now, of course, the Hindu-Muslim debate in the country is a sight of everyday news Primetime. Have the two sides sit the newsroom, split the screen into multiple boxes and bring the arduous passion to the debate by lighting up the flames at the breaking news section. There you have it. An hour (or two) long show, filled with thrill and thrashing, someone throwing allegations from one side, others spreading fake news from the other end.
And in the midst of all this, burns not just the screen of television visually, but the basic morality and the now-shredded pieces of journalism, highlighting how calmly we had bid adieu the sanity era of Indian television a few years back, inflowing into an eon of lies, rumors, and gossips.
Mind you though, this plague that’s apparently eating up the fabric of our society isn’t just limited to the news channels. A few years back they did it thinly, now the soap opera channels have loudly blown the trumpet with shows like ‘Ek Sangharsh’. Coming on Discovery India, this serial is based on the life of Swami Ramdev, underling his journey from bottom to the top that’s jeweled with struggles and heroic acts. For other serials, knitting episodes around however non-real stories filled with gossips and hate are mundane.
But here’s the biggest concern or question that comes out of this critical reality. Why is it even happening? Why are Indian channels showing so much of gossips and lies? Are they doing it out of their desire and fun? Or are they really selling what they are showing?
The fact is that Indian viewers have now taken up TV-gore as standard. Forgoing the repercussion on their subconscious, they don’t mind watching something “interesting” and dividing, however uncomfortable it makes them feel. For them, the definition of entertainment has taken a ghastly turn. They like what they are seeing. So, TV channels simply put up shows that appeal the audience.
Yes, while we can call out the television channels for taking the worst form, the large part of that blame must go to the viewers.
We’re fine consuming the worst of media.
And if that’s benefitting them, you can bet that they wouldn’t mind showing us their worst either.
Like Ravish Kumar of NDTV – a leading voice who advises against watching television – once said, “TV ko TB ho gya hai” (television has gotten tuberculosis), it is true on many levels. But besides pointing fingers at the news anchors, directors, producers and stories, we must blame us foremost. Because such media isn’t produced for no reason! We are consuming it. We are the reason why Indian television is in its worst shape.