Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Not-so-Stupid Box

Sometimes a post, by dint of its length can give the world new creative expletives,or cause temporary posterior paralysis. This is one of those.

Some many moons back, Mrs.Indira Gandhi, the then soft spoken Prime Minister of India, was convicted for election fraud by a court in Allahabad which while annulling her MP status also banned her from contesting any elections till the time I was to be a cute one year old.

In reaction to this,I have read that the lady calmly declared a State of Emergency in the country that imposed some very serious restrictions on civil liberties and constitutional freedoms. For e.g.

You were expected to reach office on time.
You were expected to restrain the external manifestation of certain hormonal outbursts to two head counts only and then run and register yourself for a not-very-male-friendly surgery.
You were fined if you were caught peeing in public !!
Political opposition was most welcome but only inside jails.

However the point that I wish to touch upon today in this post is the censorship on media that the Emergency had brought about.
The government had complete control on what was being printed or aired over radio and this kind of censorship was considered by all to be a complete murder of democracy.

As television was an alien concept for most Indians those days (only some seven unlucky cities had access to Doordarshan), there wasn't much need for gagging this media I guess and the effect of this leniency during the formative years of Doordarshan is for all to see.
Mothers now warn truant kids with consequences like 'Beta padhai karlo nahi to Doordarshan laga dungi'

People tend to be at their miserly best when on an onsite deputation, behaving more like Walking Currency Calculators than software professionals and when in UK, multiplying everything by 80 before taking any decision.

Under these circumstances when I learnt that to own a television there meant spending some 1200 rupees as license fee every month to watch 4 stunningly boring BBC channels, I chose not to bow down before the demands of the stupid box and devoted my entire life to the noble cause of surfing the internet, typing rediff.com and orkut.com and re-doing the same exercise again and again till I fell asleep.

Then one day a friend of mine sent me the link of CNN-IBN which had live streaming enabled in its website. And since that day onwards, I devoted my entire life to the noble cause of theinternet typing rediff.com , orkut.com and ibnlive.com, redoing the same exercise again and again till I fell asleep.

CNN-IBN proved to be a true stress reliever for us there and soon got us hooked to such a degree that we were thrilled to watch the same piece of news in the mornings when we left for work, in the afternoons when we came home for lunch, in the evenings when we returned from work, during dinners and finally concluded the day by seeing the day's headlines and what was surprising in this entire exercise was our interest level that just would not subside. At times we even replayed the videos of the same news the following day.

Staying away from home for long periods numbs one's senses, so I have heard.

Having come back home, where the cable bill still stands at Rs 300 per month for 150 odd channels I realised that the medium of television was notthaaaaat stupid after all.
I just cannot put in words the joy that I experience every time I press the button of remote and a new channel comes up!
Cmon what is this...Magic ??

Now television media has been in a boom mode for quite sometime now in India.
Anybody who owns a Sony Handycam got by his uncle from Singapore considers himself a struggling director and with new channels coming up every other fortnight, the need for these artistic individuals has risen all the more.

A particular community in this country has drawn up a dictum that unless you prove some mettle in some arena of the creative world(sometimes interpreted as communism) during your lifetime, neither heaven nor hell would give you a berth.

A small futuristic interview :
Gatekeeper at Hell - So dude what creativity have you shown in this horrible life of yours ??
Me- --Well ahem ..I wrote a blog and attempted some humour in it.
Gatekeeper at Hell -- Damn another of these bloggers !! Why aren't you guys allowed in Heaven damn it.... Anyway.. so humour me ..make me laugh and you will gain an entry.
Me -- The ant raping a tigress joke..
Gatekeeper at Hell ---Hideous joke...Not good enough ...try again
Me -- The tiger taking revenge and raping the ant back joke..
Gatekeeper at Hell ---Pathetic...one last try else you are dead !!
Me -- I spent a lot of effort coding and following quality processes in a reputed software company !
Gatekeeper at Hell -- Ha ha ha ha ..(demonic Guffaws)...Come in..Come on in.... hurry up...you rock big time ..ha ha ha ...This was just too good ..ha ha ha (uncontrollable demonic guffaws) ..
Me -- #%#%#$^!!!

For information's sake, I was once given a camcorder to record a birthday event. I ended up making a short documentary on the autobiography of my shoe and that of all other shoes in the vicinity.
Well they need to be heard too and no one told me that a camcorder needed to held up too and just why can't Japanese people make smart devices which require less of human interaction !!!

Now with the tough competition in the television media arena, the quality of programmes too is bound to have an upward graph.

Below mentioned are a few of the ground breaking channels that are doing stellar work in the field on TV journalism. This list is in no way comprehensive and only represents a few of my favourites.

India TV -- A few years back,I was glued to this channel for a whole day when a sting operation found Shakti Kapoor in a slightly embarrassing situation. He he .. It must have stung him real bad !! A channel with social responsibility, it has only grown in stature over the years.
With a prime time slot dedicated to Rakhi Sawant and her family, the channel sends a strong message on the rise of the downtrodden.
Recently a whole day was dedicated to the divinity of an American person who could fly making us aware of what we can achieve only if we make an effort.

Rajya Sabha
- This channel ,I have come to understand, teaches philosophy. A display of 12-13 coloured vertical lines and a soothing shrill siren kind of music in the background for a continuos 24 hours of the day must surely have a metaphysical interpretation of entertainment conveying some deeper meaning of life.

India News
- This is one of the newer channels I guess, which specialises in showing programs of the kind where a few Adivasis hunt down a deer with an arrow and how the animal writhes in pain. The writhing is shown in graphic details and repeated till the point the viewer vomits at least once. Such amazing concern for animal protection !
There was another programme where a 'witch' in Bihar was tied to a pole and kicked and slapped repeatedly till she fell unconscious. The slaps came with special effects of course and surely Rowling must have been very happy with the highlights on the plights of wizards and witches so responsibly being taken up by the Indian media.

I have also come to realise that the concept of 'BREAKING NEWS' is something quite different from what I had imagined. A news can only qualify to be one of this category if it successfully manages to actually break something when screened....Patience, forehead, intelligence barriers, right ventricular blood flow, humanity constraints ...anything will do.

And with extremely relevant issues like kids falling inside ditches being given a live telecast, we are constantly kept aware of the pitfalls afflicting the society today.
Such a vibrant and awake media is so very necessary in India's progress towards a better tomorrow.

Miracle Net - This channel is a show stopper. You have to watch it to believe it where the true meaning of Faith is exemplified through various first hand experiences and discourses. A particular person narrated his experience as follows :

"I had a son who did not work."
(Audience ...oooh...aaah ...sharing the pain, I believe)

"I had a son who did not work."
(Audience ...More ooohs...aaahs ...the pain intensifying)

"I had a son who did not work."
(Audience ...A few start crying and clapping..Some have their eyes closed with tears rolling )

"Then I woke up one day and prayed to God."
(Audience - Yes Yes Yes...some are visibly choked with a welling up emotion ..Some are lying on the floor trying perhaps to wriggle out the pain)

"God please send my son to work"
(Audience - Yes Yes Yes...some have fallen into a trance while others are swaying to some tune with kids on their shoulders.The ipod wire hangs loosely behind)

"That very day my son went to work and has not returned since !!!"
(Audience --Absolute pandemonium breaks loose...Some jumping to the stage to kiss the man, some fainting in their seats, some just crying and laughing)

The man crumbles down and falls unconscious and so did I and as I was falling, I could hear a thought banging inside my head........Keep the faith my friends...keep the faith ...

Long live democracy and the freedom of the press. Just at times, I wished Mrs.Gandhi was still alive.

(P.S.-Today's fortune in Orkut: You have an unusual equipment for success, use it properly.)
Unusual ....eh ???


Neeraj said...

"I spent a lot of effort coding and following quality processes in a reputed software company!" - Too good!!

While you were away, you've missed some really path breaking, ground shaking news stories that happened in India.

One of them for your benefit below..

Car moving without driver (Aaj Tak)
On a fine Saturday evening when not many are in the mood for news, Aaj Tak shook the nation with its special, live, prime-time scoop of a car that was running without a driver. After 3 hours of breathless commentary enlightening us on the possibilities of futuristic science and the existence of ghosts, we are finally led to the "great" man who was actually driving the car sitting at the navigator's seat!
Curiously, the live, high speed investigative journalism completed its task right before prime-time ended.

Take that for on-time delivery and customer experience.

silverine said...

Hilarious!! That God TV or Miracalnet is unbelievable!! And to think that the whole show including audience is stage managed like those Tele Shopping programs! You are right. We need IG today. I have given up watching TV after I realized that I could not switch off my brain when I switched on the TV!

That Orkut prediction is still going around? lol!

Anonymous said...

ha ha.this post made my day . Hilarious and true.

Somya said...

too good...btw u missed out watching Aaj Tak it seems...they have dedicated their existence to Mahabali Khali and everything related to him and other than that whatever time is left is spent towards playing reruns of the episodes of some stupid stand up comedy shows(very desi n intolerable) which nobody was interested in watching in the first go itself. Its as simple as that if they don't have news they'll create one(nomatter how stupid).

Anonymous said...

Where are you dude?

Anonymous said...

Very impressive.Funny too.
Digging potholes at miracle net eh.. Well u have no idea about that part my friend ! Totto

D said...

Hi, I recently started reading your post and simply loved it...i mean not everybody will understand this humour...you are just too good