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04 December, 2004

Weekly Rant – Oh! Those contests!

Yesterday again I watched another one of those crazy contests going on the idiot box. I say crazy for various reasons I give below. This was titled “India’s Best” and they were selecting a team, a hero and a heroine, for a forthcoming film.

Tears, disappointments, smiles, joy, and ecstatic hugging later the couple who would set the screen alight were selected.

It seems the entire Indian entertainment industry is set for a revamp as Priyanka Chopra very kindly informed us. Sorry, not Priyanka, it was Amrita Rao, who announced this. She said our established heroes and heroines are old so the industry is in need of new faces. Ergo, this contest. How brilliant!

Some weeks ago I had written about “Indian Idol” and had raised a groundswell of protests on this very forum. This time I hope to raise some dust and fury about “India’s Best.” Seem these people are India’s best actors. But are they? I have my doubts.

All they were tested to do were hackneyed scenes from Hindi films. They imitated Rajesh Khanna, Dev Anand, Dilip Kumar, Shah Rukh Khan, etc., all very mannered and typecast actors. They danced and contorted their bodies until, I suspect, the dance floor had holes in it.

Didn’t they have any originality in them? Instead of judging them according to their emoting power in novel situations, they were judged for how they could imitate some hackneyed actors.

So much for originality and innovation in Bollywood. The same old scripts, love stories, stupid comedies, costume dramas repeated again and again, and the same type of actors in formulaic roles. Yes, we need such talented people, as we need Dev Anand clones!

Think of the people who lost in the competition. They were heart broken, crying, hugging each other. Do we all need this melodrama to be shown on television? It brings tears to our eyes, but do we need more tears after all the melodrama shown in our films and serials?

Makes me think about the publishing business. I guess the time when the publishing companies stopped recruiting talent to write for them and appointed agents to look after their need for original works must have been the time when the death knell of publishing was sounded. Something similar seems to be going on in the Indian entertainment industry.

Sure novels and works selected by literary agents sell many copies, indeed millions. But who reads novels with the devotion and ardor there was in the heydays of the literary renaissance? Then editors spent time with authors discussing their work and spent time editing them. Books then had perfection written all over them. Now, all editors are pampered to accept only completely edited works from agents. The result? Mistakes and bad grammar that turns one off easily.

These youngsters in "India's Best" may have a direct entry into the celebrityhood that Bollywood promises. As the girl-band “Viva” had some time earlier (by the way, where are they these days, after all the tears, laughs and hugging?). “Viva” is no more because the sponsors lost interest in them.

This boy and girl pair will be dumped at some time after their movie/s are released. Then they are on their own to fight and God alone knows if they will survive in this dog-bite-dog world of entertainment.

I guess television channels have become richer because of the viewership such programs receive. Television rating points must have climbed upwards like anything, isn’t it? They just love such “reality television” for the melodrama it generates. All those genuine tears and emotions without many rehearsals are good, man.

But be prepared for a lowering of standards, good acting abilities aren’t the ones put on display at such contests. How can even talented actors perform when they know what is at stake? Don’t those rigorous elimination rounds tire them and exhaust them? Is this the correct measure of their talent, this imitation of mannered actors of yesteryears? Many a talent that cannot stand the rigorous process of elimination may be left out in the process.

Who said contests are fair?


Blogger manisha lakhe said...

john! looks like you have a tv that is like mine! does not have a working remote! i am going to let you into a secret...don't watch it! i haven't missed tv forever! i must confess tho, I Miss World/Universe shows like i'm watching an accident, am aghast, hate it all, but watch it each year nonetheless! would love to hear your reaction to it! smile!

04 December, 2004 15:42  
Blogger John said...

Manisha, I have a working remote in my hand but I am zapped all the time watching what goes on that I am immobilized. Tell you the truth, I couldn't switch channels! I also do watch Miss India/Universe when I find the time and when my son allows it. All the time I wonder why I am doing it, but I do watch it. I guess we are living our surrogate lives through the medium, the illusions of grandeur that we have all imagined. (Sometimes, when I watch those award shows, I put myself in the guy's (the award winner's) shoes!) Amazing isn't it? It is a pity that such a powerful medium is being manipulated for such petty reasons as television rating point and selling products like Ghutka. I am sure if we had poetry and short story reading session in those bright lights we may have an equally rapt audience on television! Yes, I mean it. Wonder, who will try that out. Someone will, I am sure, some day.


04 December, 2004 18:43  
Blogger Sagar said...

Someone once remarked that "T.V is chewing gum for the eyes." Perhaps we should really view it that be masticated until the flavour is lost, then spit out .. and to never, ever swallow it :)

04 December, 2004 19:13  
Blogger Pragya said...


This aberration was telecast here in the US as well, courtesy ZEE TV. It was awful. Not just the contestants but the judges were terrible as well. And the ridiculous parents, waiting in the wings, thinking their kids were going to be the next stars! But we watched it too. Actually, it was better than watching the big reality hit on US TV - "Fear Factor" where contestants do things like eating nasty worms and bugs and let tarantulas crawl over their bodies all for $100,000. I guess someone in India will emulate this gem next.

04 December, 2004 19:14  
Blogger Sreekesh Menon said...

Is it just me or do all these actresses look so alike?

05 December, 2004 03:45  
Blogger atreyee said...

No ,it's me too -and yes,they look alike! More like a coming together of all those who were Seperated at Birth - now in swimming gear !:)

05 December, 2004 18:33  
Blogger John said...

Shreekesh, Aatreyee, no, not just you, I was also wondering if these people were put into some mould and taken out for their "gori chitti" "chocolate hero" and "wimpish" looks. They all looked alike, meaning the judges were going by a concept of what their so-called star should look like. The likes of Denzel Washington or Wesley Snipes or Whoopi Goldberg or for that matter Halle Berry stands no chance of ever becoming stars.

I am saying this because India represents a wide spectrum of racial features and looks but the chance of a person with Mongoloid features or Australoid or Negroid features becoming stars or even actors is very rare. I have heard that "dark skinned" dancers are not even selected to dance with the heroes and heroines. Affirmative Action such as in the US is not even given lip sympathy here.

Bollywood are you listening?

06 December, 2004 11:26  
Blogger Geetanjali said...

Hehe..I kinda agree with Sree and Atreyee - don't bother giving these "talent-hunts" much of my attn, but when family insists on watching it during dinner-time, I noticed a couple of times how some of the babes were look-alikes of some well-known actresses. As for the talent hunts focusing on a particular type of actor/actress, I think for that the blame lies in the kind of movies we produce. Come on, can you imagine Whoopi Goldberg as the lead role in a Yash Chopra extravaganza? Unless we as the audience don't start supporting different stories in movies, the kind of actors we see won't really change. How many ppl do you know who'd prefer a Morning Raga over a Veer Zara?

06 December, 2004 11:53  

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