'Cameroon' in India and other stories

The news is seldom good and, although it is often entertaining, entertaining, entertaining, rarely is it funny. In the last few days, however, it has been really laughable.

For instance: the morning lady anchor on Times Now (Monday) and the News Night lady on DD News (Tuesday), both informed us that "Cameroon" was in India unquestionably the eighth wonder of the world. We've heard of mountains moving but a whole country, that too all the way from west Africa to India? "Cameroon" was, of course, not a country, but the British Prime Minister David Cameron on a visit to India.

Cameron's stay in Mumbai prompted the BBC to spend Monday there too. Anchor Jon Sopel, flown out specially for the visit, seized the occasion to celebrate India's "growing economy" (something most Indians find laughable) and other subjects that caught his fancy. The recent Delhi gangrape prompted him to discuss women's safety in India with actress Tara Sharma who happily promoted her TV show (The Tara Sharma Show, Colors) during the interview. Sopel was clearly impressed by her views (or her?) and couldn't tear himself away even though he informed us that his producer in London was whispering in his ear to do so. He was so boyish and bashful you had to laugh. He also did an Oprah in Mumbai by walking through its slums and driving in a rich man's Jaguar to illustrate the city's contrasts.

Markandey Katju is quite impressed by his own views and it must be said, he has them in plenty. But on Monday, he was enraged by Arun Jaitley's views of his views. "I speak what I think", he proclaimed (NDTV 24x7). And then added with Newtonian logic, "If I think 2+2=4, I will say it". Jaitley, he added, was not "cut out for politics" and recommended "sanyas" for him. However, his most priceless statement was yet to be: "In 20 years, India and Pakistan will reunite under a secular government". Honestly, you didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

Yogendra Yadav experienced no such dilemma: he tittered. Yes tittered, not twittered after Arindam Chaudhuri had raved against the UGC in a discussion on his IIPM and the blocking of web pages he believed were maligning it. As he continued to yell like a spoilt child, anchor Sonia Verma commanded him to "please stop shouting", whereupon panelist Suhel Seth laughed (why?) and Yadav remarked, spelling out each word like a kindergarten school teacher, "I th-ou-gh-t th-e-re a-re so-me nor-ms about being a teacher". Then he tittered.

And finally, the Times Now promo on the weekend and into the new week: praising itself (who else?), the news channel staked its claim to be running the country. According to the promo, Times Now investigations had forced the CBI team to visit Italy in connection with the AgustaWestland chopper scam; they had single-handedly reopened all the files on the deal and forced the government to reconsider it. What say Times Now contests the next general elections? Imagine AAP ka party and "your channel" in the fray together? It that laughable or scary?

Onto less amusing matters but no less entertaining: if you want to watch the most recent Hindi film releases, don't bother with the theatres. Turn to Colors instead. On Sunday, it ran two very recent films back to back: first Inkaar and then Table No. 21. The films may not have broken box office records that's why they have premiered so quickly on TV but they're better than watching Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham (Star Plus) for the hundredth time in a hundred Sundays, or Wanted every other weekend.

Wonder whether you want to watch Welcome: Baazi Mehmaan Nawaazi Ki (Life OK) where Rakhi Sawant was drinking something like tomato juice looking like a virgin bloody Mary and then breaking the crockery at the dinner table? Everyone else invited to the Come Dine with Me copy was equally rude about the food: "yeh bakwaas hai, woh kachha hai", etc. Worse, the show is treated like a regular soap opera with conflicts galore, dramatic music and colour-coding for different reactions to the food. So if there is too much salt, they turn white, right?

shailaja.bajpai@expressindia.com

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