Anything goes, anything went

How do you describe a week of TV where Kaikeyi appeared dressed as a thoroughly modern saas-bahu in a sheer saree revealing her curvaceous body, eyebrows plucked into half moons, the head uncovered and her tresses fluttering with each indignant swell of her breast (Ramayan, Zee)? Where two splendid cricket centuries are scored in Ahmedabad but the most intriguing match was the one of Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly in the commentary box (Star Cricket)? Where a shootout at Chhattarpur (in Delhi) between two brothers and their supporters was more riveting than anything Gangs of Wasseypur could conjure up? And where the Chadha brothers were the only human beings who managed, at least briefly, to come between television news and Bal Thackeray?

Fantastical? Unbelievable? Or simply disproportionate? In the event, TV news gave the Shiv Sena supremo more live coverage in death than perhaps his lifetime. You must have seen it. From Saturday afternoon till late Sunday evening, the news channels, both Hindi and English, kept a very respectful vigil by the political leader's side; first at his home and then snaking their way through Mumbai at the same pace as his funeral cortege, they accompanied him and lakhs of Mumbaikars with ceaseless commentary on his character, his characteristics (his wit especially), his politics and his legacy right up to the moment his pyre was lit: "What a moment this is", breathed Arnab Goswami (Times Now) audibly moved by the spectacle, some 10 hours after he first went on air.

Bal Thackeray's legacy was described as "controversial", "polarised", "divisive" and "mixed" by TV anchors and their guests. For the most part, however, the inmates of TV studios were determined to follow the adage, speak no evil of the dead. Only praise him. TV anchors/ reporters from Mumbai and their expert panelists eulogised the departed leader: they were adulatory, complimentary, effusive or affectionate. Anchors like Goswami and Rajdeep Sardesai spoke of him the way they might of an eccentric but lovable elderly uncle. So did their counterparts on NDTV 24x7, Headlines Today, Aaj Tak, Zee News, etc.

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