Sunday, 2 July 2017



One channel caught my attention through its fresh shows at ten at night every weekday. Epic ke Dus, that’s what they are calling it. The channel has started new shows on fiction, cricket, movies, cookery and travelogues. 
Any new channel can’t neglect the homemakers and the increasing interests in cookery shows
amongst viewers.  Epic has two cookery shows which appealed to me-Lost Recipes and Raja, Rasoi aur Anya Kahaniya. Both the shows are not exclusive live cookery shows. They have food shown along with travelogues. History and lost traditions of our invaders and rulers revisited through kitchens and royal descendants is a fresh way of conducting cookery shows. The shows tell us about power, politics and food and its correlation in geographical invasions. Must see episodes are those talking about the origins of our very own Sambhar and Rasams, Pattrani macchi, Vindaloo and Bhopali Kadaknaths.

The week starts with tele series of short stories of Rabindranath Tagore directed by a talented Basu- Anurag Basu. Stories such as Chokher Bali, Kabuliwala, Detective, and Atithi are shown one after the other. Each story’s main character gradually introduces us to the next story’s protagonist and that’s how the narrative is spun by the director. The characters of each story are so true even in today’s world when sati pratha, Zamindari system, Polygamy is all abolished. The emotions and events are very much relevant and alive even today. For instance, the female characters of Chokher Bali-I see them all around. A newlywed wife whose husband is working long hours, maybe in corporate company or in defence forces, loves him desperately and passionately so that she understands when the husband moves on to another woman, suggests that he can live with his mistress in the same house. The deceitful widow who loves someone else but doesn’t object to her friend’s husband’s sexual advances towards her. The worldly wise detective husband who gets caught in the same web of lies created by him to catch a thief .The ambitious theatre artist cum mistress of a Zamindar who is unsatisfied with love and wealth and cherishes her audience’s applause. 

All these characters become so real with their very human-like display of emotions. So unlike most of today’s family dramas where everybody is either a Sati savitri or a Shakuni Mama. Tagore’s characters have all shades of white, black and grey. But still you love them. Tagore’s world has been shown by Anurag Basu in such a way that it appeals to every one of us, esp. those who may or may not go and watch his cinema. For them, it’s as good as a one hour short movie on TV. The sets, props, clothes, make-up, every nuance of film-making can be felt contributing to the overall effect of simplicity of emotions, in short, in these episodes. My only hope, the channel realizes what an interesting insight it will provide in Tagore’s literature for young viewers and shifts it to prime time of eight or nine at night, so that it is not missed.

Another new show which is equally interesting is Mid Wicket Tales being narrated by none other than Naseeruddin Shah. His voice, sparkle in the eyes and interesting scripts spin a very fresh narrative about the historical moments in Indian history. It seems to be an effort in reminding us that cricket was also a Gentleman’s game in those good old days. Once you start listening to Naseer, nostalgia will grip you and make you feel the heat and warmth of dressing rooms, on pitch competition, pressures and camaraderie. The smashing sixes of Col Naidu, the stunning success rate of the four Spinners, the 1983 World Cup winning Indian team, the origin of Ranji Trophy, everything is there.

Any new channel’s enterprising efforts are incomplete without significant contributions from Bollywood. The channel show Jaane Pehchane hosted by Javed Akhtar is an attempt to talk about the characters  of Indian cinema, which are stereotype in origin but have been made immortal due to the efforts of  certain actors, directors and/or scriptwriters. The characters that he talks about are really mundane, such as the notch girls/tawaiyafs, the comedian Hero ka dost, the Hero ki Maa, Heroine ka Pita and the bad Villains. He gives us an insight into how some actors like Pran, Meena Kumari, Mehmood and many more have done wonders to create a niche for themselves through their characters. Also the channel shows one classic movie on every week day at twelve noon. I saw Teen Deviyaan, Nau Do Gyarah, Mr. and Mrs 55 last week. It’s much better than watching Indra the tiger and Suryavansham.
Hours can be spent talking about all the new shows but one must feel the freshness to experience it. Some may say it looks like a new version of DD National, Some may say again a saffronising attempt of NaMo sarkar. But I personally feel it is much progressive, educative and interesting than watching our saas –bahu ki sajhish, Pakistani Ranjish or listening to Arnab Goswami demanding answers on behalf of the nation. Whatever said and done, Epic Ke Dus do stand out.


Piggy Chops’ father would have been proud of her today. She became the second most beautiful woman beating Melanie trump and some others such as Gigi Hadid. She was felicitated as the artist Extraordinaire during the Zee Cine Awards a few days back. Page three of national newspapers has everyone from cousin Parineeti to colleagues like Irrfan praising her acting skills and talking about how she’s taking her Indian talent to global stage. For those who don’t follow the no more Idiot Box’s daily soap operas, we are talking about Priyanka Chopra featuring in a serial named Quantico on Star world. Priyanka portrays the character of an FBI agent who is alleged to be a dangerous terrorist. People are praising how the new era heroines are experimenting with new roles and opening new opportunities for Indian talent.

Hold on a second; let’s run through the journey of this artist, first. She started with her victory in the beauty pageants and went on to win meaty roles in many commercial Bollywood movies. She continues to excite the viewers with her attempts to experiment with her own acting skills, once in a while with movies like Barfi. Recently, she gave her followers a pleasant surprise with her music album Exotic. And now we have Quantico, a daily soap on a leading American Television Channel-Star World. Many of her Industry colleagues are calling it a great success-what a leap her career has taken, they wonder.She still confessed "You can take the girl out of India but you can't take India out of the girl!"Very true. For us Indians even a short stint on American television amounts to a success story!

Movie artists doing television can be traced back to Dada Muni narrating the story of Hum Log, Amitabh Bachan/Shah Rukh Khan hosting KBC. There are various genres of movie artists doing television. Some like Shah Rukh Khan/Salman Khan have tried to host Hindi versions of popular Anglo-American serials such as Kya aap panchvi paas se tez hai? /Knock Out/ Big Boss. Some like Karan Johar, Anupam Kher and Simmi Garewal, who conduct talk shows for their so called chaddi buddies. Some others who are always judging celebrities to amateurs to tele stars like Malaika Arora, Madhuri Dixit, Sonali Bendre, Annu Malik, Kiron Kher, Archana Puran Singh Farah Khan ….the list just goes on. But, recently Anil Kapoor as a cop in 24 and Amitabh Bachan in Rann have shown that mainstream Bollywood actors are interested in doing serious television serials on a daily/weekly basis. 

 We also have some serious directors like Anurag Basu doing television. He directed short stories of Rabindranath Tagore on Epic channel which he says he has specially done for those who don’t watch movies. None of the big Bollywood maestros feature in his episodes (except a few like  Radhika Apte who is trying all kinds of media ranging from web stories to television so can’t truly symbolize the Bollywood band wagon). Priyanka Chopra aka Piggy Chops has gone a step ahead and grabbed the lead role in a daily soap on American TV. Looks great for her. Is that actually the graph of growth for an Indian artist?

Does it say that we in India lack in providing our talent with the opportunities that the global world is providing? If that was the case, we wouldn’t have had the honour to showcase Court, Killa, Talwar, Masaan and many such masterpieces. Yes, more often than not we are stereotypes with our Dance Basantis and London Thumakdas. But, we must agree that times are changing, movies are experimenting, audience is more receptive, and the whole experience of watching movies is changing. 

And in such times isn’t it more challenging to stick around and back up such talented amateurs than go overseas to do mundane `pity me, I am the wronged one and I will prove that’ melodrama in American, for a completely unrelated audience. Not to forget, Mrs Chopra's (Priyanka's mommy darling) production house has started to sponsor movies in Marathi with rising artists. Priyanka, for once has proved that there is a difference between artists of yonder years and the Generation Next. Artists aren’t emotional fools, anymore. They are smart, money-making franchisee holders who know how to exploit their sale ability till they own it. Brand endorsements, wedding performances, television appearances it’s all good as long as the money keeps flowing. No wonder, theater doesn’t feature in this list. But don’t be surprised if Broadway does. Growth, challenges can take a backseat for a while.

 Back home, ask any other housewife, it’s just like any other crime thrillers NYPD, Blacklist, Hawaii-O-Five. They all seem similar. Just as our own Hindi daily soaps, be it Kumkum Bhagya or Qubool Hai. You won’t miss much even if you don’t see them for a fortnight because there’s hardly anything new happening. It’s time to deconstruct and remind people of Bard’s opinion `` What`s in a name”-Quantico or Qubool Hai-daily soaps aired on Indian ,Korean as well as American Television are the same. The only respite may be that some are seasonal whereas some others seem to go on for ages. 


Celebrating Gandhi Jayanti :Jai Jawan Jai kisan


Gandhi Is Fasting
By Langston Hughes

Mighty Britain, tremble!
Let your empire’s standard sway
Let it break entirely—
My Gandhi fasts today

You may think it foolish—
That there’s no truth in what I say—
That all of Asia’s watching
As Gandhi fasts today

All of Asia’s watching
And I am watching, too,
For I am also jim crowed –
As India is jim crowed by you.

You know quite well, Great Britain
That it is not right
To starve and beat and oppress
Those who are not white.

Of course, we do it too.
Here in the U.S.A.
May Gandhi’s prayers help us, as well
As he fasts today.

``Children are such couch potatoes these days. They prefer video games over Basketball. Even I am okay with it. I don’t want them to be sweaty, tanned children?’’
`` My daughter is my world- our single child. But she is getting fatter and fatter. Now she just doesn’t go to play in the park. She says her friends call her Moti (Fatso).’’

Mothers will be mothers. We dote on our children, we know their follies and we make them mend their ways too. It’s just that children are smarter than us. For them our Actions do speak louder than our preaching. So when they see us sitting at home in the evenings watching our favourite daily soaps, they too find opportunities to hang around and avoid outdoor games. This made three of us, mothers of daughters living in the same building to do something to move our daughters to the streets.

On second October last year, we decided to celebrate Gandhi Jayanti on the street, but not sweeping the streets but playing funny races with our daughters. Games were finalized and the girls chose to share the eatables. A day prior girls had a meeting, cards were made and invitations exchanged. 

Seriously, we were ready to organize some funny sports races for our daughters. The neighbourhood was full of energy and excitement. 
We decided that we would forego our sweet dreams in the early mornings and started the events early at seven. 
The girls were so excited that they got up early and were ready wearing their sports gear. 
They chalked out the start and finish lines on the road itself. 
And we started! 
We began with slow walking race, three-legged race, Hunt the coin and run race and concluded with a skating race
Then the girls had a break. 
They had enjoyed the races so much, as all had won one or the other race. 
So everyone had something to talk about.

Mommies had made some lemonade, pop-corn and some munchies which the girls shared with each other. 
Even the youngest toddler was so excited at seeing the Didis( elder sisters) run and make merry. 
Then the mothers narrated stories from their school times which made the girls giggle and laugh heartily. 
The merriment ended with a delicious Jalebis race
The girls were so engrossed in eating the hot, crispy Jalebis that they forgot to run back and complete the race. 

But we mothers were happy, at least they were all together and eating something other than junk food and chocolates, for a change. 
We  are not sure whether the girls will associate 02nd October with Gandhiji this year. But even though they are not together anymore, they will definitely remember to come out and test their grit, 02nd October. 
The Runs for Fun and the shared eatables, odd jobs ended with claps for all of us, some selfish selfies, lots of claps but no prizes since we didn’t want to rate them the first or last. 

Finally, they are all our darlings and we just wanted them to put their best foot forward and enjoy life.
Mothers want them to be ready when the time comes to do the EKALA CHALO RE act.

And we all know they will…….. Just like Kasturba and Gandhiji.