MY PIQUE-LIST

All of us have pet peeves – it is only the degree of contempt that varies. Some of our gripes are shared, like the one most of us have against government officials in general and politicians in particular. My modest list, which forms the crux of this blog, may find resonance with a few of you reading this.

I must confess – I keep myself updated with all the latest happenings in Indian TV serial world. This is not intentional, but since I pore over a lot of newspapers everyday (which include the now mandatory but asinine “entertainment” section) I invariably end up gleaning unwanted information on the shenanigans of these impossibly silly characters who populate this phantasmagorical universe. When it comes to TV serials, Indians take the cake (and the baker) with their soppy, juvenile and ridiculously improbable storylines. Clichéd acting, pathetic production values, laughably formulaic scripting and interminable lengths, are some of the maladies that affect our TV serials. We have serials that take time leaps of centuries (invariably to boost their dead plotlines), but have characters who do not seem age even by a day. Most of us would love to have such naturally black hair and wrinkle-free skin, even when we become great, great grandparents! I wonder where in India do women go to bed with all their jewelry on and wake up with their hair and make-up intact? We also have prime-time serials which promulgate the Indian version of urban legends like the “ichchadhaari nagins” and “bhootnis” who fall in love with fair (!!!) and handsome Indian men. In comparison, the TV “dramas” churned out in our neighbouring country are extremely well-made, well-acted and superiorly scripted. The best part about these Pakistani dramas are that they complete their storylines within a matter of few weeks (or in rare cases a couple of months). Of course, there are a few Indian serials that are exceptions to this rule (“24” comes readily to mind), but they are few and far between. For a country that has produced the likes of Rabindranath Tagore, Munshi Premchand, Mahasweta Devi and Ruskin Bond, we seem to be woefully short of story ideas and plots when it comes to our TV serials.

We Indians love to deliberate – rather yell in the guise of deliberation, and the great Indian TV debates are trenchant examples of that. We Indians can debate on any topic under the sun (and moon, and the universe) and our accepted version of such discussions is to try and out-shout our fellow debaters. In such debates even a semblance of logic and common sense gets thrown out of the window in an attempt to prove one’s nonpareil lung-power and substandard intellect. In this milieu of garrulous nonsense, we have some brash and uncouth moderators (inanely elevated to being celebrities themselves), who rather than arbitrate, try to drown out the cacophony of other speakers with voluble and unwarranted decibel levels of their own. Add to this potpourri a few good-for-nothing politicians, who bring in their celebrated cerebral bankruptcy to the table and you have a lovely but totally unpalatable “khichdi” to spoil the rest of your day.

From being a country where epics have depicted most of our Gods as tall and dark, we somehow seem to have regressed to being a country obsessed with fair skin. On any given day in any given hour there would be nothing less than half a dozen TV commercials espousing the benefits of a fairness cream, and funnily enough we even have our grossly overpaid celebrities endorsing these creams – even the ones with naturally dark skin! Long gone are the days when our ladies used to swoon over tall, dark and handsome heroes. Most modern day visual interpretations of our Gods and heroes are of them being fair-skinned, with the darker shades being relegated to demons and villains. Rather than being proud of our natural Indian skin tone, we have now created an industry which unabashedly thrives on creating mass hysteria with the artificially created psychological disadvantage of being a “darkie”. Health hazards apart, why is it so difficult for some of us to accept the fact that the Indian skin tone is naturally darker due to our complicated ancestry and genetics (and our prevailing weather conditions to some extent)? When I last checked, fair skinned Indians did not have any special characteristics that made them any more superior to their dark-skinned counterparts! But alas, being fair, fairer and fairest seems to be our motto only in the unintentionally funny and intentionally blinkered matrimonial ads that appear in our print media, but not in our day-to-day dealing with other human beings…

I have a few more peeves like the ludicrous Indian obsession with celebrities, our treating cricket as a religion rather than a mere game, fake and undecipherable accents put on by our celebrities, our unjustified inability to laugh at ourselves, and a few such, but the need to maintain brevity in my blogs leads me to truncate this to the above list (lest my blog becomes someone else’s peeve!). I personally have nothing against people who consider these as non-irritants. I have some good friends who use fairness creams, watch these TV serials and debates, and I appreciate them for it, as they give me a different perspective to the mystery we call life. I recollect in school we had a chapter in Hindi which opened with the lines “duniya ek ajaayab khaana”, which roughly translates to the whole wide world of ours being a museum (it somehow loses its rustic flavor in translation), but it succinctly sums up my motto in life – live and let live!

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