Tuesday, November 02, 2004

“Indian Idol”

I sat down to see Indian Idol on television. My son tells me it is a copy of an American program of the same name called American Idol.

A pretty young thing, a participant, walks in. Agreed, she isn’t a great singer. The judges, celebrities themselves insults her and says she should give up singing. The girl is almost in tears. We are shown background material about her preparing, her expectant parents encouraging her, the jitters, and her ultimate debacle. I wonder what right the judges have to insult her like this. Just tell her she doesn’t make the grade and let her go.

“But it is like that in America,” My son says. So what? Must we ape the bad qualities of those Americans? The celebrity judges must remember they are on national television and they themselves are celebrities, and it reflects badly on their standing as celebrities.

Will every one of these participants take this lying down? No. One brash type, a participant, objects and says, “You could have put this in a better way.” The judges instead of apologizing and saying sorry, say, “You put on star airs when you walked in.” Meaning, it is star airs they were watching and not his singing style. Hello! Are you there to judge their clothes and appearance or their singing?

Another one, a scared looking man, is told, “You are a timid man. You will never make it.” He goes back crestfallen. What right do you have, celebrities, to insult a man like this. This is what I find objectionable about “Indian Idol.” But my son says, “Papa, it is like that in America.” I say “So what? If they are bad should we also be bad?”

We are obsessed by America and whatever is done in America cannot be bad. Who says so? Some of our youngsters think talking bluntly like the American working class in their slang is cool and fun. No it isn’t. It doesn’t suit our Indian sensibilities and please don’t tell me, son, “It is like that in America.”

It also raises questions about this great unchecked, un-critiqued medium of television. I think we are crossing the limits somewhere. Aren’t we? Do we have to impose the moral standards of America on our unsuspecting viewers most of whom are our youth who are in the most impressionable stages in their lives?

Raises questions, I don’t have answers. Maybe I should put that to Anu Malik, Farah Khan and Sonu Nigam.

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