Saturday, December 01, 2007

There's hope for Indian television

After several years of suhaags, sindoors, saas and bahus, 2007 may well end up as the year that steered the wheel around for Indian television viewers. Yes, there's hope for Indian television.

If you thought programming on Hindi entertainment channels was all about soaps, think again. The slew of new channel launches brings an interesting mix of experimental shows and fresh comedies.

And why not? Considering Hindi news channels are serving up enough drama in the garb of news, its time the mass entertainment channels pulled up their socks to offer something different.

It is a challenging premise. Indian viewers are not best of samplers since they are thoroughly loyal, even though they (mature female audiences, especially) in retrospect, might bitch about regressive Tulsis and Parvatis. Some new channels have braced up to this challenge upfront. Some have targeted new age urban audiences. And some are bringing top-notch international content from across the world.

Who needs a remote when Remote Control is on?
First up, a worthy mention about Remote Control on INX Media's newly launched 9X. Truly, its time to crown the serial's producer - Hats Off Productions - as the king of television comedy. J D Majethia's characters spin hilarious situations in this Monday prime-time half-hour show. The show's concept brings back memories of Waghle Ki Duniya, since the setting is similar. A simple, well written comedy about the common man. And the Golden Eye Channel. (Hyuk hyuk hyuk!)

Also on 9X, is worth a watch. The comedy, which marks Endemol's first inroads into television fiction is a commendable effort. The serial offers a healthy dose of situational humour bordering on the slapstick, but crisply edited.

Sony - SAB's new mantra: Non-saas bahu shows
Observe the themes of the Sony-SAB's new list of shows and it's easy to figure out that the channels have decided to give the saas-bahu serials a miss. Will it work or not? Perhaps only time (and TAM) will tell. In the meantime, there's relief in the form of Kucch Is Tarah, Amber Dhara, Viruddh, Jersey No.10 amongst others.

Quite a contrast to Zee's weekday prime time programming - totally saturated with lathery, frothy soaps. You know what I mean. Pick your keywords - dulhann, betiyaan, saat and phere. And if that was not enough, it has introduced a Naginn for weekends. Eeks! But the snake-fest is doing very well in the interiors, I hear.

Good Times are here
NDTV's lifestyle channel 'NDTV Good Times' has a must-watch roster of shows for the tech-savvy new age young urban Indian. T3, What's the Next Big Thing hosted by the suave Rajeev Makhani are informative, with high-end production values. Lounge hosted by Rajat Kapoor has improved considerably after the initial hiccups. The channel does have its share of dampeners though, prime amongst them being the Great Indian Love Challenge. The show is old wine in a new bottle, with similar concepts explored earlier by Channel [V] Crush and MTV Love Ke Liye.

Times Now's Total Recall
I came across this gem today afternoon. Total Recall on Times Now explores the bygone era of Indian television, the characters, genres and defining moments that have scripted the television revolution that we see today. Malgudi Days fans, don't miss next week's episode - an interview with the grown up Swamy (yes, the same one from Swamy and friends) is on the cards.

Lagegi to drop title?
There's buzz that UTV Bindass' driver show Lagegi is likely to go for a name change. The stand-up comedy show hosted by the likeable Mantra and Aniruddh could well land up calling itself Hass de India. Sad, but true. The show's comic lines were doing quite well for itself, at least within its target audience. Looks like Roshan Abbas wants to encompass a larger audience base into a laughing spree. So now truly, sabki lagegi.

Rant of the week: Rama rama kya hai drama? Sahara One's Jjhoom India is witnessing too much of mudslinging within the judges and contestants. Shekhar Suman deserves to be rapped on the knuckles for his rude remarks to host Rahul Vaidya. But who cares? The uproars seem too scripted to be true. And whats with the jordaar taaliyaan after every outburst? Tch tch.

Chant of the week: Weekdays 10:30 pm on SAB - watch America's Funniest Videos (AFV). God bless Sony and God bless the handy cam. Had it not been for the candid video clips recordings, we'd never have sampled American humor at its best. The videos are bound to leave you in splits.