Saturday, April 6, 2013

What do you watch on TV?

I was 3 years old when two men with long and thick wounded cables started fixing our television at home. My 10 year old brother was happily scampering about the drawing room. Being the younger sibling, I kept running after him, clueless. My father took those two men to the roof and then they started fixing the antenna for some reason. When we came back downstairs to the drawing room, there was something about the television that put a broad grin on everybody's faces. We had a cable connection!

It was pretty rare to have a colour TV with a cable connection back then. My brother would take charge of the remote controller while I'd sit beside him and try to understand what those 15 odd buttons meant. We slowly moved on from Byomkesh Bakshi to shows like Grihalaxmi ka Jinn and Rajni on Zee TV. There was about half an hour they dedicated entirely to the recent Bollywood hits. I picked up most of the songs from there. 'Oh Julie Julie Julie tu ladki nahi mamooli' became 'Oh Julie Julie Julie tu ladki hai ya mooli', thanks to my limited vocabulary.

Now our cable guy was quite the God of all cable-wallahs in Dehra Dun. He'd print the entire programme schedule in tiny booklets and distribute it to every home at the beginning of the month. So my brother would carefully teach me how to find the shows worth watching under the respective channels with the correct time. We'd highlight important shows like WWF, Tom and Jerry, Dennis the Menace, Small Wonder, The Three Stooges, Different Strokes, Hum Paanch and the likes and important movies like Hatim Tai (starring Jeetendra), Jurassic Park and other new Sunny Deol movies, primarily because my brother was a huge fan of his and remains one till date. Thankfully, we now have Tata Sky that saves us the trouble of memorising the TV schedule in addition to the textbook rote-learning.

My mother found it rather interesting that she could call the cable guy any time and ask him to show one of those old Rajesh Khanna movies (her childhood crush) on the local Prime TV channels. They'd both decide the time and my mother would watch all the movies of her choice everyday when she was free. All this with no extra charges as opposed to Tata Sky's Showcase.

As we grew older, Sony stopped airing the shows we liked, Star Plus started off with the famous saas-bahu saga which meant that the remote now remained snugly tucked under the grandmother's pillow. Arguing for the remote was a lost cause now. We sat with her daily, dealing with problems like 1000 crore business deals between suited and booted business men who seemed to spend more time with their love interests than at work, mental conversations between banarsi saari clad women bathing in gold, polygamy, vamps and gradually lost our childhood to them.

I became a couch potato again with shows like Shri Sifarishi Lal, Yes Boss and Office Office on SAB TV. Suddenly there was Sarabhai vs Sarabhai on Star One. Healthy comedy was back and how! And then the wise man's words came true again. All good things came to an end. We were reduced to watching scripted reality shows, more reality shows, family drama, more family drama, some more family drama. So much so, that music channels became entertainment channels and started airing unreal teenage shows. Cartoon network and Disney were hijacked by Japanese characters that had a common superpower of getting on your nerves within nanoseconds.

I still watch TV. I don't even know if I can call that watching TV, because I barely look at it. I only turn it on to provide background music while I'm on the laptop downloading torrents to better shows so that the silence doesn't creep me out.

15 comments:

  1. I still remember the black & white tv in my home , changeing the direction of Antenna.and asking my brother,,,,hua saaf??? lovely days ..thanks for reminding :-)

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  2. Haha! Although I don't remember those days, but my parents tell me about that time!

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  3. Well written piece, Shruti.The disappointment with the idiot box that you describe is of all of us. Now waiting for Doordarshan to save the day!

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  4. niCe...I watch 'WONLY comedy serials' when I have time #Minddittttt !!
    ....and yes I was personally involved in 'revival' of "Yes Boss" on SAB TV years back...before SAB went to Sony...

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  5. Don't know if the old DD will ever be back! We could still do with well-written shows. Sarabhai vs Sarabhai was epic! So was SAB TV till about 4 years ago. Sigh. So much talent, all going waste!

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  6. @Abid Zee they were such happy, fun shows. Complete stress busters!

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  7. Shows like ramayan,Mahabharata,ye jo hai zindagi,surabhi were the only times when a joint family would sit together..
    Nowdays things have changed even the TV s name which s aptly said "idiot box " :)
    Well written blog..worth reading it was..

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  8. I could relate to every single line that you have written here. The pre-Ekta Kapoor shows were simply amazing and so witty! Now I realize why we watch so many American and British TV Shows- because such kind shows existed once upon a time in our country but not anymore! Kudos to your writing style, you don't take up the cause for others-you speak for yourself. :)

    P.S.: I wonder where would I have been when you were 3 yrs old. :3 :D

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  9. @bhagwati Thank you :)

    @Soumya When I was three you were probably being planned :P

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  10. The last para of your blog is reality of TV now. No entertainment, but shows are on 24X7. You tend to hate the TV characters as all the shows display same emotions and story background. One thing I hate most with TV is TV award shows hosted by different channels. They dance on cheap Bollywood songs and try to copy the film stars which gives me weird feeling. There is no news on news channel, no entertainment on entertainment channels, if you try to watch a movie the breaks in the movie is going to break your heart….

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  11. good to see blog culture is still alive.. i though blogspot was also shutdown by google..

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  12. superb article Shrruti. . .reminds me of my childhood.
    I still remember watching Small wonders, I dream of Jeannie, Bewitched, Sannata etc. They were my fav. programs :)
    -mangesh @baburao_

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  13. This was like a trip down memory lane! I miss the ridiculous Zee Horror shows, Mr. Wagle ki duniya, and everything else...well almost. Today, the TV is as useless as an empty gas cylinder in my house.

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  14. accepting the fact that you had a cable connection @ 3... you have missed a lot from the DD era.. watching chitrahar every sunday monrning with same songs being repeated every week.. dancing to tunes of shammi kapoor in shikara boats was the best time of watching Television... after that it got converted to Idiot box... now a lot slimmer !

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