The Incredible Indian

They say India is well on its way to becoming a superpower. They feel proud of the country's rapid economic growth. They celebrate the high stock prices, and rejoice the growing political and cultural clout of the country. They stake claim to a permanent UNSC membership. They call it 'Incredible India'.

Really now? Well, i'm not against my country's growth nor am I against the opinion that India is making great strides in every field, right from swindling millions of rupees in scams to winning the most prestigious international contracts. I just think that in pursuit of the 'incredible' we have lost touch of the 'credible'. India is good, Indian is not. I don't know if losing the culture and letting in western influence was a big deal, but I just cant stand the way we have dumped all our values and mannerisms. Perhaps, we never really had them? Yes, we will be a superpower one day. A superpower of zombies - lifeless, valueless, devoid of all emotions that maketh a man.

While there are several examples that I can use to elucidate my point, I would only go as far as my aching back allows me today. I'm particularly pissed with the way the Indian entertainment industry is doing its best to pluck out all possible humanly emotions from each one of us, be it a poor villager who can't afford a day's meal, or an educated westernised youth with all mental faculties peaking. And with time, its starting to show in people's behaviour and mannerisms. I dont really watch TV a lot when I'm in Bangalore, but I can't help laughing my ass off looking at all the tv shows my parents, my grandparents and my sis watch whenever I'm home. Its not even their fault, becuase TV's an obvious form of entertainment for them for whatever time they have during the day after all the daily chores. But what's shown on TV is what bothers me.

On the one hand are the  innumerable family soaps, which should be given a "100+ and still alive to watch" rating. I never understand how people even digest the utter crap they show every time, episode after episode. Saasu maas exploiting teenage married bahus, exploiting grandmothers trying to screw a girl child's life, jealous bhabhis mixing pepper in food cooked by the innocent bahus, husbands spying on every move the wife makes outside the house - hatred, envy, vanity, pride, heartache, wham bam damn! Its like every house in TV's tinsel town is trying to plot against every inhabitant in new and innovative ways and somehow burn itself down.

The other end of the spectrum belongs to reality shows like Emotional Atyachar, Splitsvilla, Big Boss, and the likes on Bindaas, MTV, etc. Although I do think they're much more entertaining than the former class of TV shows and much more watchable for pure entertainment purposes, they still only add up to the big black hole of values that could make us a better class of people than we are, or are becoming. By trying to show that all one cares about is sex and money, they not just pass on a wrong message, but also corrupt many impressionable minds out there. The day is not far when people become so comfortable with whats shown that they wont bother when all this happens in real life, so much so that they'll even start doing it themselves. No respect for relationships, shallow mindset revolving around scheming, plotting, and not even thinking twice about right or wrong - all of this is getting branded on every Indian as the years pass by.

Ofcourse we all know what a joke the news channels have made of such a serious subject as news. You would think no1 can screw up something as simple as an omelette, and yet you watch these channels screwing up facts every day. A scientific approach to disseminating the correct information to the masses is the least one would expect of a news channel. Not an indian news channel though. In this age when everyone wants to get away from superstitious beliefs and old, outdated thinking, the channels seem hell bent in bringing it back in fashion!

While Indians are busy trying to recite the last rites for their values and righteousness, the west is exalting every possible possible human emotion by atleast the ways which creative media allow. I've been watching US and British TV shows atleast since the last 6 years now, and even though all of them may not seem too generous on good stuff, atleast more than three quarters convey beautiful messages through each episode. While shows such as OC show how family bonds can help one overcome any kind of trouble in any stage of life, shows like friends, How i met your mother, etc keep the funny bone tickling and yet explore the different facets of friendship, without any stupid negativity coming in the picture. Even superhero shows like Smallville always build the episodes on a theme - love, family, friendship, pride and honour, humility, truth, etc. There are shows that make you laugh, ones that make you cry, and everything in between too. Yet, they have an underlying feel good factor about them, that fails to find parallel in modern Indian entertainment industry. Think about it, when was the last time you actually saw something on indian TV, other than a politician accepting a briefcase full of bribe, that actually gave you goosebumps and made you think?

Creativity, too, seems like a forgotten art when it comes to Indian TV. All I can see in the name of creativity these days is - some very lame stand up comedy shows, and some very very lame news headlines ("Indian Cow kidnapped by Alien spaceship"). I miss the good shows - Banegi apni baat, Just mohobbat, dil kya chahta hai, special squad, khichdi, sarabhai vs. sarabhai, and so many others before these. They were atleast light hearted takes on different situations in life, and more closer to reality than the current crop of shows.

My point, after all this ranting is, that the west is generally growing happier and more positive in its outlook. People genuinely take interest in the life they live, and not just stuff they have to do everyday. With the global churn and changing landscape, India is growing more powerful, but with each step ahead, Indians are losing it, on all levels of humanity. I dont know the last time when I met a stranger in this country and noted some genuine compassion. I have, in all my innumerable visits abroad, atleast found much warmer handshakes, hugs and eye contact. For Indians, the whole world can go to hell. Its my friggin world and I dont care what anyone's doing, its my friggin road and I can drive wherever I want, its my frigging piss and I can dispose it off wherever it's clean enough to do so, its my frigging govt. and I can earn as much money as I desire, by any means possible. What a shallow race we have become. And I blame the media and entertainment industry in part, for whatever small amount of recurring damage it has been doing since the last 10 years. I hope we can get our act together and, if nothing else, atleast play the Incredible Indian in a credible way - because when this country goes into a huge financial recession, or a nuclear war, all the vain vanity will bury its head in the ground, and all that will be left will be an ass to kick.


Onward said...

Slightly biased I feel. Though I totally agree that we overdo the saas bahu drama and our reality shows(like most reality shows) are over hyped and in bad taste, our British and American counterparts indulge in a lot of stereotypical drama too.

I guess it comes down to mentality actually. We have no qualms about watching a million different serials about friends sitting at a bar and talking life and sex but our saas-bahu drama makes us puke inside.

Maybe the Indian is Incredible after all...maybe its just me, u and our kind who have a problem :)

Aupsy-The cOOlest One!! said...

I agree that its biased and thats precisely why this is in my blog and not in a newspaper :D

And I also agree that so many US and brit shows are also vague, but the point of them is that so many of them aren't! There are so many that you'd watch everyday and just feel touched with the way they portray life. Even the ones around a bunch of friends sitting in a bar and talking about sex make a very convincing point about the value of friends in life. Name a few indian shows that do the same?

Its just like corruption u know. Its everywhere, but atleast in the US corrupt corporators do get some work done for the people. In india, they take money and sit back and chillax. Similarly, even the shows abroad based on sex atleast give some kind of useful message at the end. Take the Ted-isms for example. And you and I watch these shows because of these reasons, and not just because we love to hear those guys talk about sex! :)

Anonymous said...

I didn't notice you had a new blogpost! And a good one at that!
Indian TV used to have good shows in yester-years but now it's all a pile of trash seriously..
Contrast that with Saturday Night Live. SNL is like the most creative and mocking show ever.They make UNCENSORED fun of every politician, movie star ,religion..well, everything under the sun,including the President- things which,if talked about in India, will lead to lawsuits and illegal shut-downs by politicians.. Imagine someone mocking Sonia Gandhi or MMS. They deserve some good old sarcasm.

Anonymous said...

"shallow mindset revolving around scheming, plotting"

Well said :-).

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