We do realise we have a choice regarding what we watch on TV, right?

I could have put a more catchy title, the one that entices the reader into clicking it the moment he sees it. I desisted from it because ‘de-sensationalisation’ is the topic of this post.

As far as I remember, it all started with Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki. (You know what.)

In 90s, TV serials like Hum Paanch, Dekh Bhai Dekh, Hasratein, Junoon, Shanti were popular. They were a mix of comedy and drama. I remember watching Junoon with intrigue, though I had no clue what was going on. Serials in the 90s had a defined genre and each channel (as far as I remember the popular ones were DD, Zee, Sony, Home TV, Star) showed a mix of each genre.

The drama serials like Saans, Saara Aakash had a central theme and refrained from over-dramatisation – the famous thappad scenes from Ekta Kapoor’s serials or slow motions weren’t used then. Background music served to help immerse the viewer in the scene, not to agitate his very core and raise heartbeats for an outlandish scene unfolding on the screen.

You might notice I use ‘he’ for the viewer. A majority of serial viewers are ‘she’ then and now. I use ‘he’ because it is my writing style. However, it is a fact that in the 90s, at least the males in the house sometimes watched these soaps. Now, the Saas-Bahu and other supernatural sagas are so over-the-top that they seem to cater to only the women folk in the house. Don’t get me wrong, I am not stereotyping by saying that women love these garish soaps and men are more mature in their preference of TV serials. What I want to say is – most men have opted out when they found that the soaps are not of their taste, while the women have unwittingly adapted to watching whatever the telly throws at them. That said, there are still men who enjoy the present day soaps. To each his own, eh?

Yes, to each his own. Till they leave what they watch on screen and flip back to real life. What I see happening is – under the pretext of harmless indulgence, the ‘watchers’ of these serials are taking ‘lessons’ from them and implementing them in real life. The ‘middle-class’ that once prided itself on being educated and above the lowly family drama happening in the lives of the uneducated, is now relishing the added spice in their lives by replicating the drama happening in similar educated middle-class families’ lives on screen. If you know what kind of soaps are being shown on the TV these days, you might understand where I am coming from. You might also see that I am beating around the bush by not pinpointing the exact strains these serials are creating within the key relationships in households.

Compare an out and out Saas-Bahu drama with Tu-Tu Main-Main. Which one would you rather watch? If we don’t have a Tu-Tu Main-Main now, why are we lamely accepting the Saas-Bahu drama being telecast in its slot? Why don’t we switch to Discovery or National Geographic instead? Or why don’t we simply switch off the TV?!

That brings me to comedy. Point me to a good Hindi comedy show, and I’ll take this whole article back. Taarak Mehta was good when it started. Now it has become a caricature of itself. (Oh it was a caricature from the start? Well, I agree. Read the original Taarak Mehta to know the actual wit of the author.) Kapil Sharma Show is hideous. Yes, hideous. It tries bringing Omar Sherif’s ‘Bakra Kishton Pe’ flavour, by showing unnecessary and cliched husband-wife exchanges but doesn’t realise that the time when such jokes were socially acceptable is passé. Well, how do I blame them? When viewers are lapping up the trashy comedy, who am I to say that it is unacceptable?

I have more to say on this subject. I stop here, to return to it with more organised thoughts. Till then, hope you find something good and worthwhile to watch on the telly. Otherwise, you’ll be lending credence to its much popularised and undeserved nickname – The Idiot Box.

As for me, I find solace in YouTubing the shows that I like.



Get ready to ramble!

As you might already know, February is the month of rambling – thanks to the awesome Lady at Shail’s Nest.

You post about anything that catches your attention at the moment or tell a story you just remembered or post flash fiction or rant or just go on rambling every single day in February. It is also a blog hop, so you meet and greet your fellow Ramblers.

January has almost ended. 2017 has begun. February is about to start. Why am I stating the obvious? Because I am getting in the groove for rambling.

Just so you know, I have resumed my shooting practice this week. It has become such an integral part of my life now that I was feeling restless in the one month of ‘rest’ that I was forced into.

What am I going to ramble about this year? I don’t know. Can you plan rambling? Then it is not rambling.

Maybe I’ll talk about things I have started this year. Like driving. I knew driving since I was 16. Being under age, I was not allowed to drive outside our compound. Somehow, the under age/ un-prepared tag stuck till 30! Better late than never, they say! So yeah, I am experiencing the adrenaline rush that a teen has when he first rides a moped by himself or when a child rides a bicycle without training wheels. It is empowering too. Gives a feeling of being in control. Sheesh, I rambled about driving here itself. What shall I ramble about in the Ramblings now?!

IWSG : January Question

This post is part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop. The first Wednesday of every month is Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. My awesome co-hosts today are Eva @ Lillicasplace, Crystal Collier, Sheena-kay Graham, Chemist Ken, LG Keltner, and Heather Gardner!


January Question : What writing rule do you wish you’d never heard?

I have grown up reading old classics by Jule Verne, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, R.L.Stevenson, Charles Dickens – to name a few. It tried my patience to get ‘well into’ the book as the descriptions of the surroundings went on and on in the first few pages. If it was not about the type of scenery or the grandeur of the mansion that the characters lived in, it was about the typical habits of the character in question. It was as if there was nothing happening in the book except when you were into the 2nd or the 3rd chapter. If you were real unlucky, the book would pick up pace well after the first half.

This was my feeling when I was a teen. As I got accustomed to this style of writing and grew in years, I began to appreciate knowing where my characters are. The descriptive surroundings lent credence to the traits that the character got as a result of inhabiting them at that point of time/in the past.

Recently I finished reading Jane Austen and loved her descriptions of the manors and houses that her characters lived in, and the ball rooms they visited.

I have attended several writing workshops, and read several ‘How to write a successful novel’ articles which say that the ‘First sentence matters’. It should never be about the time of the day or about the surroundings. I interpret that as : The first sentence should not be something that a regular someone would say while narrating a story (like, ‘Once upon a time…). It should be striking; something that a reporter would say to catch your attention in a fraction of a second, and stop you in your tracks when you are surfing channels on the TV.

Mumbo-jumbo, I say. I call the bluff! How many first sentences (of the books you have read) do you remember? I just remember the last sentence of Gone with the Wind – ‘Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn!’

And that exactly sums up my feeling about this writing rule. Never start your novel with a sentence describing the time of the day or the surroundings. If your writing is honest, your reader will have patience to turn the next 2-3 pages and see if your story entices him further. If not, well, too bad! I am not writing a novel to please my readers, I am writing to tell a story I want to tell. I won’t tell it by adhering to some imaginary writing rules which claim to make your book an overnight bestseller.

Other than grammar rules and maintaining a decent sense of chronology, I don’t have much respect for writing rules at all. Writing is an art, you can establish vague pointers, but you cannot have people writing out of a rule book. Tch!

I wish I had never heard the never begin your story with description rule.

Dangal – an eye opener

I watched Dangal yesterday.

As you might know if you happen to visit this blog often, I have taken up shooting professionally in 2016. Seeing the Phogat sisters slog at 5 AM in the morning, I was considerably moved. This is what hard work looks like.

When Geeta Phogat went on thrashing one after another contender in the National Championships – with no other worthy challenger, my mind went back to the National Shooting Championship Competitions (NSCC) that I had just been a part of. There was a vast difference between entry-level athletes, regular athletes and the world class athletes.

Was the difference only in skill? No. The primary difference is ‘how seriously do you take your sport?’

The difference is truly revealed when a National level Champion moves to the International circles. It’s like climbing the highest local peak (in a plateau area) and immediately having to climb Mount Everest in all its harshest climatic glory without any necessary training. It is a rude shock – for those who let their focus slip after becoming a known name in the Nationals.

Every scene in the movie, coupled with the memory of every shot I took at the NSCC has given me a much needed rude awakening. Let’s face it – shooting 40-60 pellets a day after some limbering exercises, feigned meditation and 30 mins of holding doesn’t a world class shooter make.

Geeta and Babita’s Dad quit his job to devote his 100% to coaching them. I have quit my job to devote my 100% to becoming a good shooter. Not having a working day creates an illusion of having ample time on your hands. You do every little household chore that you think needs to be done, you make time to accommodate almost all requests of friends and family, and with the time that remains – you make hay while the sun shines – you goof off! (Reading every other ’10 things…’ article, scanning FB feeds with no agenda in mind, etc. I can think of a million things that I don’t want to or shouldn’t do and I am doing.)

I need to become ‘hanikarak’ for myself and start working towards the goal that I have set for myself. It ain’t easy, but it ain’t hard too. I was one of the ‘mediocre’ athletes in NSCC (who are labelled aspiring along with all the real aspiring deals out there. I might add, there are even ‘renowned shots’ who are mediocre, but let’s not get into that.)

Abhinav Bindra laments the increasing number of wildcards, which render the NSCC less reputable, and make it tough for the seasoned athletes to concentrate on their game. I might not completely agree, but I get where he’s coming from. If there is no serious competition, it can be disheartening for the International-level athletes to compete with little or no serious competition. (Then there is also the lack of glamour that they deserve at the medal distribution. There is hardly any crowd to see and snap them at the podium, but I digress.) The bottomline is most Indians – players, coaches, sports officials and bystanders alike – take our sports too lightly.

I had gone easy on myself since I knew I got into the Nationals. I just wanted the ‘feel’ of the games. There’s nothing wrong in it, but going easy should not mean not living up to your everyday potential. The week before the Nationals, we had a family event, and I kinda ignored my training. Probably I would not have, if I were younger, and did not have any other responsibilities. Is this true? I ask myself, and the answer is a resounding NO.

I have always found a way to not give enough and justify it. At times it is the lack of guidance, lack of confidence, lack of energy, lack of time and above all – the unwarranted sense of contentment that I use as blinds to stop the reality glaring me in the eyes. The reality is – I ain’t doing enough!

I need to take a leaf out of Dangal, and start prepping with a willing heart. My eyes have been opened. Let’s do this!