For a while, I had always thought that I was responsible for being extremely ruthless and judgmental about the quality of regional television in India. The kind of programs that are conceptualized, developed and presented. I never quite got a hang of the scheming Atthalu and the victimized Kodallu for a long, long time.
Actually, these regional channels are not to be blamed. The inspiration comes directly from the Balaji clan of Mumbai, where Saas Bahu soap operas have taken the country by storm, making things very personal for the viewers. The addiction was infectious, clingy, money making.
Over the last decade, tables have turned, clearly. Now, Kodallu are the bad guys in the house. Atthas are the victims. Poor souls who try to keep the house together from falling into pieces. The dose of imagination and dramatization is unparalleled. Kodallu suddenly run huge business empires. They throw cash on the table and bring home a Jag. They strut a swagger as the husbands watch on like useless pricks, not worthy of any mention. They want to have the upper hand, these ladies. Even with the neon coloured gaudy sarees and pastry pink lipsticks. Will not dare to get into the makeup detailing here.
Even the Chuck Lorres of US will have hang down their head in shame. Why hasn’t this thought occurred to them? Mudslinging, revenge taking, rags to riches and the ultimate payback. This is an upgrade gentlemen. Throw a glance at this direction. There can be so much done with the female characterization. Sky is the limit.
And now, let us come to the heights of them all. The brand new talk shows that are hosted by the yesteryear sexy sirens. These, fellas, are not like any other talk shows. These are not even half witted Boom Booms. These are the shows that bring in real people with real problems. Extremely personal issues. Problems like that of husband and wife having tiffs on the bed, included. Have girlfriend boyfriend issues too? Sure! Bring them on. Let us throw in a sufficiently ‘decent’ mix. A strangely molested rape victim? Even better!!
One victimized wife, a drunk husband, a careless ma in law – all of them bring their domestic problems to the TV, washing their dirty linen in the public. The retired actresses then play wannabe guardian angels, dissecting, inquiring, and even reproaching the stupid family members to correct their lives.
There is one flaw in the plan, though. That would be called degrading the quality of telly watching. As though things are not bad enough already. This is not an anti-ageing wrinkle correction, ladies. These are real problems of the real people who did not make enough money wearing a makeup or running around trees. Monetizing personal agony into a lucrative content for the so called seamless experience on the telly. Even Chuck will take a bow. This is like the lowest of the low. This is a downfall.
Where are the good old programs on heritage, geography and culture, we wonder? Those dimly lit Doordarshan studios where content was boringly educative. But it was far worth a watch.
And the dirty linen continues to be washed. The couple has finally decided to divorce. And they have the blessings of the fading Diva..