Appearance and deception

Can we identify with TV characters who look nothing like us?

They sing like larks, they dance with silken limbs, they flirt like experienced coquettes: "badtameez dil, badtameez dil" they coo to uproarious applause. And they truly deserve to be applauded for mimicking the stars of Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani so perfectly. You would like to clap till your hands fall off but for one fact: the performers are young children, some still very young. Day after day, they recite lyrics of love, longing and sexual passion feelings they have yet to feel. So while Indian Idol Junior (Sony) must be thanked for unearthing wonderful young singers with mellifluous voices, you are left wondering whether these children might be growing up before their time.

You turn away from talented children and encounter their equally talented mothers (Dance India Dance Super Moms, Zee). Here, women of all shapes and sizes fling themselves about with complete abandon. The show celebrates the fact that you don't have to a Katrina Kaif or a Deepika Padukone to be light on your feet and dance the wax off the floor (or whatever it is they use these days). For all the melodrama of winning and losing, there's a sense of being grounded in reality about the Super Moms: here are adult women giving an arm and leg (quite literally) to be famous.

Reality is not something we accuse the daily soap operas of imitating. Just looking at them you think, uh-oh, another costume drama. For instance, consider the clothes the daughters-in-law other than Chhanchhan wear to the modern modular kitchen in their joint family home (Chhanchhan, Sony): everything from the attire to the jewellery is straight out of Jodha Akbar (Zee) or Bharat Ka Veer Putra Maharana Pratap (Sony): what if haldi stains the clothes? It beggars belief.

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