Oh Dear, Tamil TV Serials!


(This post was prompted by another “duel” for the remote control on the horizon and yes, it is going to be with the same old aunty)

Read these first:-

The-Big-Bang-Theory-029

(One of the funniest and most educational TV sitcom to date – thanks to “mommy had him tested” Sheldon, who is by the way standing on the far right there – and I love every episode of it but why can’t the same winning formula be repeated in other places – places like the huge, extensive world of Indian entertainment industry where there is no short of talented, funny actors and scriptwriters? Why?  Image source: http://tvbreakroom.com)

It was a lazy Sunday evening (it was rather a very late evening) several weeks ago when I woke up from my slumber afternoon nap (with a baby in tow, afternoon naps are a luxury these days – some of you will know what I mean) and walked down downstairs where some kind of award show was on ASTRO with my grandma and my mum watching it.

It was the Sun Kudumbam Awards (if you have not heard of this, I don’t blame you) and I did not really catch the gist of the award until much later (yes, I was still in a daze from my afternoon nap) and realized that it was part of the Sun TV to award those in the TV serials “industry” in various categories. All the glitters and pompousness of a mega star studded award show with very revealing clothed dance performances was on the spot but looking at the various categories contested, it made little sense on the minds of the audience. I mean there was very little to shout for – all are TV serials with similar or overlapping story-lines and with categories like the best mother-in-law, best father-in-law and best brother-in-law, the whole award show seemed to be nothing but a well dress circus show. But still nothing happens without a sustained demand from the audience and the same happens here. The serials are there because of the demand from audience (likely to be housewives who have this for entertainment after a good day work of cleaning the house and cooking) and that is perfectly fine.

But certainly large entertainment corporation like SunTV with all it’s financial resources, creativity and talents (and a good pool of ready audience – both in India and internationally) can come up with Tamil serials on subjects other than on family problems, misery, back-stabbing, in-fighting between the in-laws and scheming, right? Just take a good look at some of the serials – see how long they drag the scene that in reality would probably take micro-seconds to complete – in the serials, they drag it to a point where it occupies the entire episode.

I saw one such nonsense some days ago – someone asking a lady if she can follow him to a place. In reality, we would have expected direct questions and answers – yes or no and perhaps why, where and when. But not in this serial! The background music somehow got more tense as the person looks at the lady in distress and the lady (as if she have committed some serious crime) looks back rather panicky and this goes on for a couple a minutes before the lady opens her mouth and asks why (even that took a couple of minutes before we got some kind of answer). Thank God, they are not doing western theme in Tamil Serials otherwise the quick duel with the pistols between 2 mean cowboys outside the bar would have been painfully long (laced with plenty of crying from the family members, emotional speeches and appearance of missing relatives at the last moment) and to a point, real cowboys would have gone back to the bar, order some root-beers and get themselves drunk like hell.

Certainty they can come up with serials that have a complete fast paced story within one episode (crying from start to end does not count here) whilst at the same time, having another bigger but slow paced story that needs one to keep up with all the episodes to know its final outcome. What they can do? What kind of TV serials that we can hope to see in the near future and where one does not need to (desperately) create award categories like best mother-in-law, best father-in-law and best brother-in-law just to keep the competition between the various serials stiff?

If they are scratching their head for a good theme, maybe they can look at these genres:-

Police & Law Enforcement

A story of a police station in a small town with colourful characters as the policemen on duty and led by a young, intelligent but inexperienced inspector. The focus of this story would be on the cases that the police station gets from the public and how the “men in blue” work their way to solve the crimes (I am sure they can pull success stories from the many police stations in the country). Added into this story are known criminals and corrupted politicians who are not happy on how close the police are getting in uncovering their criminal. The “SIDE” story in this serial would be the policemen interaction with their family. I say “side” because the last thing we want is for the family story to take the limelight and the actual policing work to be shown in the intermittent (if this is so, then we are back to square one).

Law

A story of 3 young lawyers who graduated from the same law school and are in the same law firm, each trying to impress all in their way up in civil suits to be senior partners of the firm whilst at the same time, maintaining the dignity and justice of the legal system. A good study would be made during the show on Indian legal systems, the various precedent judgements from the past court cases and perhaps suggestions to close the various loopholes in the system. It would be very highly educational for the common man to understand his rights and the implications under the law.

Paranormal

Short paranormal stories – it could be based on true story or fictional and to string all the short stories would be investigative reporter who goes around looking for paranormal incidents. One rule of thumb though – each case must start and end within the same episode and not not after 600++ episodes later. Zee TV already showing something similar (the show simply named “Fear Files“) in Hindi and it is quite good. Have something similar in Tamil and you are good to go.

Situation Comedy

It is a fact that there are way too many talented comedians in the entertainment industry so getting the right people for a situation comedy would not be so hard to do. There used to be one but it was laced with countdown to the top 10 songs for the week. They can start with something similar to The Big Bang Theory – a story of 4 bachelors who are well educated and living together in a small apartment in the city with multiple personalities including one that talks and acts like Sheldon.

Corporate Drama

A story of 2 business rivals who is trying to outdo each in business, not be scheming, backstabbing or by use of violence but rather by sound business decisions and making the right strategic moves. What are the best practices in business? How one inspires high productivity among his employees? How one deals with shortage of funds and insane call of order at the very last minute.

Farmer Story

Nothing beats seeing something very green on television – but then again, a story about a farmer means waking up early morning, a whole day nothing but hard work and putting the faith on a good weather and getting a harvest at the end of the day.

Historical Story

What was life of our ancestors or of great men & women in the early 1900s or 1800s or even BC? Wouldn’t that make an interesting story for the next generations? No special effects, no modern technology – just pure history studies. What they did for leisure? How they did their shopping and cooked their meals? What were the ancient games that the kids played when they are not busy with school or work at the fields.

Sci-Fi Story

We cannot talk about a futuristic Earth with warp speed spaceships here – I don’t think some of the housewives are ready for that yet but we can talk about an alternate reality, something along the line of women is the more pre-dominant gender and men are confined to homes to do the house chores and to cook (the housewives will love this). Or why not pick something sci-fi from Enthiran – what if the mad scientist also created other robots in secret – perhaps in form of small children.

Children Story

You don’t have to go far. Take Enid Bylton’s The Famous Five as the base of the storyline and put cute, witty kids in the key roles and you have a killer show for all generations. It has been done before and I am sure that an Indian version of it would be a hit too.

Mystery / Conspiracy Theory

Are all those in the Government aliens in disguise? Or the Government has a dark secret division which is doing out-of-world missions on a regular basis but no one knows about it (in likes of Men In Black)? Or what if someone had found something from ancient times that could change the future of mankind and they had to fend off the bad guys from getting it and use it for the wrong reasons? Yes, an Indian version of the X-Files!

At the end of the day, whilst we are fine with the entertainment side of TV serials, on a longer run it must also educate and inspire the viewer to see things from a different and positive perspective. The current (tiring) family themed TV serials are fine for its short term entertainment values but where are the long term positive points when at most of the time; it is nothing but family feuds, conspiracies and sabotage? What about family bonding, maintaining good relationship and positive inspiration? When we going to see them coming up soon on our local channels? I hope very, very soon. Viewers are getting more sophisticated and in more demands than ever (they should be – they are not paying small money for the satellite channels) and if they are not, the entertainment industry must be willing to be more innovative and realistic when it comes to making the viewers to be one.

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Chennai Trip – Part 2


In case you have missed the starting line, read the prologue and Part 1 first

(The way to start the day – Chennai style – light filter coffee with thick cow milk in a small tumbler. The small plate at the bottom is known as ‘dabarah’ which is supposed to be used to cool down the hot coffee but Malaysians like us, we just blow on the top of the cup and drank the milk rich coffee)

The clock on the wall was showing 1 in the morning when we managed to clear away our luggage and sat down for a late dinner (our relations have prepared delicious idlis, anticipating us arriving hungry – it was a wise call)

Our relations are staying in a 3 storey house in Mylapore, about 30 minutes drive from the airport – it was a peaceful neighbourhood and within the vicinity of a 2,000 years old temple. We suppose to “take over” the unused 3rd floor. We stored our luggage and started to unpack the gifts & clothes from Malaysia. We were unpacking when we were informed that our sleeping quarters have been prepared on the 2nd floor where our relations were staying.

Given the summer season, it was very warm during the nights but the 3rd floor had ceiling fans (we were prepared for it) but instead we were asked to sleep in air-conditioned rooms in the 2nd floor. Our host were certainly very generous and had taken great measures to ensure that we were very comfortable (We promised our ourselves to return the favour as soon as possible).

The night passed without any problems – thanks to our very generous hosts. The next day – we woke up early. No sign of jet lags or tiredness. The big boss, as usual, woke up on his own sweet time. Breakfast was ready – thosai with chicken curry and a hot cup of strong coffee – served Chennai style. To tell you the truth, the coffee was a bit too rich for me. I always had teh-O in the mornings. As the rest of us was planning the activities for the day which is  nothing but shopping, I got busied myself with the local cable channels. Thankfully there was HBO and Discovery channel for me. There was about 30 or so channels in Tamil for the rest of us.

Tamil serial is also a problem in the house with the elderly going crazy with it and the young ones oppose watching it.

(The ‘big boss’ at the centre of the roller coaster – snap taken before we started the journey. No seatbelts, no insurance coverage, driver wants to compete with larger vehicle makes the auto ride a definite roller coaster on the road )

We had to change money – ringgit to local currency, rupee and my brother in law wanted to visit the local telco customer service (he had a problem with the local sim card), so we arrange for an auto to pick us up from the house – first stop was to the telco company. My son joined us (me and my brother in law) and the ride was a roller coaster to him. The interior of the auto was clean and the driver was downright polite (but not to other road users). I got my son to sit in the middle although he wanted to sit nearer to the side.

I was more worried about the auto driver taking the various short cuts and riding against the traffic at certain part of the town but he managed to get us to the telco building in one piece. We asked him to wait whilst we had to walk towards the customer service counters. Too bad for us, there was a blackout and the guy behind the counter could not help us. It was getting too warm for us to stay for the electricity to be back so we decided to get a new sim card nearer to the house. The auto driver was waiting for us when we walked back and in a short moment, we were taken to a small sundry shop.

(As I mentioned – in the city, it is not easy to see the Indian made Ambassador but rather the latest Honda Civic is easy to see. Perhaps the next trip, need to try to drive around in an Ambassador – I heard it is built like a tank)

We walked inside and informed that we wanted to change to the local currency. The friendly man behind the counter opened the bag, checked our notes and gave handful of cash to us (no dirty notes found). We got a good rate (compared to the lousy rate at the airport).

We returned in-time for lunch (we had to wait for a little while longer as our wives decided to get busy in the kitchen, helping the aunty to cook lunch). Another delicious meal before we started with our shopping activities. But before that, I had to take shower again – I was sweating the whole lot.

To be continued in Part 3…

Clash of the “Titans”


Update 1: I thought I was alone with this Tamil Serial problem. I hopped to Visithra’s blog and find that she is doing her own “battle” with her mom on the Tamil Serials. May the force be with her on this.It has nothing to do with the movie. This is tougher than that…I have found a stiff competitor for the Astro remote control at home.

Back to the original post…

In the past, I was pretty much the master of the house, having absolute control over what to watch over Astro. No matter what my parents or my siblings or my wife will be watching, when I return home, I get to decide what to watch (with the exception of my son of course – his favorite channel 63 takes precedent over everything at any given time). One can only watch HBO or the Discovery Channels or AXN when I am in front of the TV.

Things were fairly going fine until a “disaster” happened

An ageing relative from my dad’s side came to live with us. We had the room for her and she was very handy at home – helping out my wife and taking care of my son when my wife is busy with housework. We were delighted to have her around the house.

The downside was however is that she loves to watch the Tamil Serials over Channel 6 & 73. When I say “love”, I meant in the form of a die hard fan – really, really love Tamil Serial. Tamil Serials will be running on the screen almost the whole day long especially during my time to watch TV from 7.00 pm to 11.00 pm. The remote control will practically be resting on her lap all the time – as if she does not want anyone switching to other channels. At first, I did not mind the rather “over-exposure” of Tamil Serials on the TV. I had my computer games and thick novels to spend the time.

However as time went on and couple of good shows was shown on the other channels in Astro, the fight for “who holds the remote control” just got fiercer.

Yes, it can be as tough as this sometimes at home. Cartoon source: www.cartoonstock.com

Frankly speaking I did not want to be rude to the old lady but at times, desperation can lead a man to do “hard but sensible” things. I would sit down and grab the remote from her and with a poker looking face; I would quickly navigate my way to HBO or AXN. The old lady would not protest and argue with me on this. She will keep quiet but I noticed from the corner of my eyes, she will be looking at me and the remote and me and the remote…you know what I mean.

The moment I take a quick break (during the commercials) and go to the kitchen to grab a drink, the Tamil Serial will be back on the TV with the remote safely back on the old lady’s lap. I will be standing helplessly with a drink in my hand. I have no heart to fight the old lady – she is a nice lady but with an obsession with Tamil Serials. All I could do is to shout “Arrrrgggghhhhh” inside me.

Watching Tamil Serials all day long just makes me crazy to the wall. Of course I don’t sit and watch it but I still can hear the sound. At times, I would feel like throwing the TV set out of the window. Damn! Even my grandma is not that die-hard fan as this old relative of mine. At least, my grandma watches CSI and Discovery Channels as passionately as I do.

Oh by way, as I was drafting this post, the remote was safely back on my lap with my TV tuned to AXN. Damn, she is looking at me and the remote and me…again.

Read also: Tamil Serials (God save us!)

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