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Monday, December 18, 2006

Tales of the Idiot and the Idiot Box!! 

So I've been super busy and then I'm also planning to go to Kolkata later this week. So those are the basic excuses for the delayed absence :) Not that I had a dearth of writing material though. I feel the list of yesteryear Hindi movie cliches that I plan to write abt, have a lot of potential - I'd say at least "15 comment worthy" (yeah, I'm gonna classify my posts in terms of how commentworthy they are). But then I wrote this pretty interesting email to a friend and the idea of this post came to my mind and I just had to get it down before I forgot it. So here it goes ...

Sundays are very different for me right now. I try to keep my Sundays free. Fridays and Saturdays normally involve a fair bit of staying up and driving. So Sundays are lazing days. I normally indulge in an afternoon nap. Maybe go for an early movie. Do my laundry in the evening. Call up home ... Sundays, now, also give me the "Tomorrow there's work" feeling. All in all Sundays now are characterized more by stray errands than anything momentous. But things used to be very different as kids. And as I thought through Sundays from the past and their meanings across multiple time frames - it struck me how big a role TV had during my growing up days!!!

I was very young then. Maybe ten. Maybe twelve. Maybe nine. Young enough to not remember too well what age I was. At that time Sundays were "Hindi movies in the evening days." Every Sunday Doordarshan would show some Hindi movie in the evening. Those were simpler times. There was no cable. There were no reality shows. We didn't even have Rakhi Sawant hogging news coverage all the time. All we had on Sundays were the movies in the evening. I remember that I used to open the morning newspaper with phenomenal anticipation to find out what movie they were screening that evening. I would then run to my father with a curious face. "Dad, they have some movie called Professor starring Shammi Kapoor. Is it any good?" The suspense used to be tremendous, as dad would pass a judgement on the movie and that meant a lot to me. Occasionally he would praise a movie and give me some additional trivia (I remember he did that for Mehmood movies). And then there were days when he would deem a movie completely unfit for my childlike innocence (I remember he did that for Ek Phool Do Mali). That would mean another week of waiting and I'd blast the Doordarshan honchos for spoiling my Sunday evenings.

I remember Sundays also had a regional language movie in the afternoon. The one that followed immediately after the news for the hearing impaired. But those movies had no charm for me. Coz the only regional language I spoke was Bengali and all the Bengali movies they ever screened in that slot were very depressing with famines and an unattractive woman always playing a central role :( So yes, Sundays then were only "Hindi movie in the evening days"!!

By the time I became fourteen, Sundays had changed a lot. VCRs had penetrated into mainstream India and watching movies on Doordarshan was loosing its charm. But the Sundays reacted well to this change. We had entered the 9-10 Ramayan/Mahabharat era. Life would reach a standstill as the entire nation came together on Sunday mornings to re-live the countries biggest epics. I used to have lunch at 1 in the afternoon those days and my Mom was kind enough to allow some lunch time TV watching too. So Indradhanush and Space City Sigma were hot topics for Sunday afternoons. Occasionally when Mom was a little more lenient, I would slip in an episode of Stone Boy too (does anybody else remember that show?). So effectively the Sunday TV extravaganza had moved from an evening affair to a morning/afternoon affair.

A few more years passed by. I was a little older then and considered the then Sunday craze Jungle Book kinda lame. I was probably the only one in the country who found the song "chaddi pehen ke phool khila hai" obnoxious. So while everybody raved abt the show, I kept it away from my morning staple. The other craze then was Ducktales, another children's favorite. But let's face it, by then I was too old for animated ducks without clothes below their waist!!! My favorite Sunday attraction had once again moved to the night time slot. It was a show that in many ways changed Indian television by introducing us to the notion of countdowns - the one that started it all - Superhit Muqabla. Yyup! I watched that show and am not ashamed to admit that I even participated in one of their competitions (if you care for more details then lemme tell you that I had voted Romeo Naam Hai Mera from Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja as my song of the week). With a host of erstwhile forgotten personalities like Baba Sehgal at its helm, the show found super success and I was part of the audience that waited all week long to find out who would reach "Hall of Fame" next weekend.

As I said in the beginning - Sundays are so different now. No TV whatsoever. Occasionally a movie. A lot of reminiscing though and that's what I did with this post. Whatever!

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