Acche din for Indian television

Friday, 6 June 2014 - 6:15am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

Like most urban young people with an internet connection I stopped watching Indian television shows a long time ago. I occasionally watch people get shouted at on MTV Roadies to raise my self-esteem or Arnab if I want to see if his head had exploded out of self-righteousness, mostly though the television shows I watch are American. Call me elitist but it is slightly more interesting to see Walter White make crystal meth than Simer in her sasuraal wondering which crockery to use when unexpected guests arrive. Shows like Game of Thrones also allow me to have compelling and engaging conversations with my peers such as:

"Bro WTF just happened on that last episode! They killed him!"
"Ya man I didn't see that coming!"
"Haven't you read the books?"
"What's a book?"

In general, I hadn't been excited by Indian television since the mid 90s when I discovered the world of TB6 Mockba and its late night broadcasts of explicit content. It is extremely stressful to watch hormonal Playboy bunny romps at 2 A.M. when your house's only television is in your father's room and there's a risk of him waking up but more on that later.

In what promises to be an interesting initiative, Zee television is going to air four hours of Pakistani soap operas every day starting June. The concept of airing Pakistani show isn't novel given that till very recently in our history there were no restrictions on PTV being broadcast. While it might not be as good as our older generations remember it back in the 80s, it will still hopefully be a fresher perspective in terms of the people on display and their stories. From what I can see, each channel is trying to copy one another, leading to one gigantic circle jerk of content. Star is trying to be Zee which is trying to be Colors while V is trying to be MTV which is trying to be Bindass which is trying to give everyone's eyes herpes while all our film channels share one giant catalogue and keep shuffling the same movies. I swear if I see Indira – The Tiger or Hero – Love Story of a spy one more time I will shoot myself.

My only worry is that it too might get caught up in the same political games that cricket and hockey find themselves in. I wont be surprised if some fringe groups venting their frustration at Pakistan start destroying their own television sets. We can all agree though that watching great work from across the border will be more interesting than having their generals get into a slanging match with ours on television. For the sake of good content, lets hope the experiment works and we get to see more from our other neighbours. A SAARC channel? Anyone?

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