20 years of Tellywood


There were many men in my life back in the Nineties.

There were many men in my life back in the Nineties. And I've been in trouble ever since. CNN's Peter Arnett with a wisp of hair swaying in whichever direction the winds of war blew. I remember our first date: Baghdad, 1991. Subhash Chandra Goel, who went from toothpaste tubes to the tube of plenty (1992). Li Ka-shing's STAR TV that courted me with Star Plus, BBC and MTV. In 1993, that man Murdoch came calling. And let's not forget the phlegmatic Dr Manmohan Singh and former PM Narasimha Rao. But for them, foreign broadcasters and our own broadcast industry would not have bloomed and I would not be writing this piece about how an oblong box called the set-top box wired to a thick black cable seduced me.

The most important man in my life, however, was Babloo (or was it Bunty?) from Regency Cable. We met often, sometimes every day. I could not live without him nor he without me. He'd arrive on a third-hand Bajaj scooter, saunter in with his tool box and give me what I wanted most: no, not something out of Fifty Shades of Grey but a good, clear cable connection so that I could rendezvous with all the other men I met on TV.

Men like Ridge Strong-Jaw Forrester. Remington Dishy Steele, and Mitch, the bare-chested coastguard (Baywatch). Or Agent Mulder and his paramour Agent Scully (X-Files). A younger man? Found him at Beverly Hills, 90210.

These gentlemen were soon replaced in my affections. Cable TV made us fickle, choosy, picky. Suddenly, we did what had been unthinkable until then — had over a dozen out-of-the-box affairs. Instead of one Doordarshan channel, we had 10, 20 and then 50 channels: now, 20 years late, we have over 800 TV channel choices.

... contd.

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