The daily life of any student presents a number of 'challenges' to the person in terms of assignments, exams, shaping your future etc. or in short, balancing huge number of things and still come out on top. I am also of the opinion that the huge breaks that are provided to us after each semester also test us to our limits. The drastic changes in the surroundings, your daily time table and diet, plus the amount of free time that you have at your disposal, after every four months take the form of a new problem that you have to understand, while starting from scratch in order to solve it. You have to know whats boring you, what is the schedule you should follow, what is the reason behind a particular new problem and so on. An example of it would be my weird dreams which have stopped bugging me after I returned to my habit of sleeping late as in the hostel. This brings me to the activity that was supposed to get me through these 4 weeks, but on the contrary its turning out to be quite unsettling, which is watching tv.
This habit has always been one of my favorite pastimes and the fact that I do not have that many movies left to watch on the pc at home made it even more important. Also, I have not been able to watch tv for long hours, as I usually do, since more than a year. But I was in for a big disappointment. The tv scenario has changed completely in the year long hiatus. With the saas-bahu serials booted out, all the prime time slots and TRPs are now grabbed by reality shows. There is not a time during the 24hrs when I can surf the channels without encountering someone trying to make people laugh, or singing or dancing, all this followed by drama from judges or some heart wrenching story of one of the participants. This shows us just what the entertainment industry and to some extent what people in India are, opportunists. Jumping on the bandwagon is not a trait of Indians alone, it is a natural tendency of all individuals, in fact every popular tv series from other countries has been adapted by US in hopes of repeating the feat ( The Office and American Idol are the most successful instances), but they have one South Park or Prison Break to show for every 10 shows that they spun-off. Considering this, it would not be too generous to overlook their recent failures in the sitcom department or many other disappointments in reality shows.
Thus, what is disturbing is not the copycat formats of the shows but the sheer lack of originality or creativity. This presents a very shocking picture(at least for me) of a future where I would not be able to enjoy Indian tv for the rest of my life. This is because as much the situation has deteriorated from the earlier days, even the relatively recent past, where shows like Office Office, Khichdi or Sarabhai vs Sarabhai were introduced, has now transformed into an era where saas bahu serials moulded in the form of love stories are shown and the only thing the other new shows can call their own are the numbers that have to be dialed in order to vote for a participant.
This grim situation also brought feelings of nostalgia, to have grown up in a period where shows of the highest quality were produced. The list includes Buniyaad(the most under rated show), Mahabharat, Malgudi Days, Bharat Ek Khoj, Byomkesh Bakshi, Ye Jo Hai Zindagi, Mungerilal Ke Haseen Sapne, Karamchand, Nukkad, Amul Surabhi, Mirza Ghalib and Hum Log (plus many others), also daily soaps like Shanti and Swabhimaan. Hows that for quality stuff..? It was a time when people like Gulzar made shows for tv with Naseeruddin Shah in it, and every show had one Raghubir Yadav or Pankaj Kapur or another gem of an actor in it. The script was always tidy and gripping with each writer knowing well in advance what was the length of shows as the number of episodes were pre-decided. On the down side, the production values were always low, as not much money has ever been involved when it comes to Doordarshan, in addition to the work culture being sarkaari. So, when you consider the hurdles that the guys had to cross and what they delivered, its truly remarkable.
This discussion should not end in only a single post which brings me to the idea of writing a series of posts on the shows that were part of our life when we grew up, from the mid 80's to around the mid 90's. I m sure that is going to take some time but what the hell, its not like I have to watch anything on tv.