Saturday, December 04, 2004

WEEKLY RANT – Oh! Those contests!

Yesterday again I watched another one of those crazy contests going on the idiot box. I say crazy for various reasons I give below. This was titled “India’s Best” and they were selecting a team, a hero and a heroine, for a forthcoming film.

Tears, disappointments, smiles, joy, and ecstatic hugging later the couple who would set the screen alight were selected.

It seems the entire Indian entertainment industry is set for a revamp as Priyanka Chopra very kindly informed us. Sorry, not Priyanka, it was Amrita Rao, who announced this. She said our established heroes and heroines are old so the industry is in need of new faces. Ergo, this contest. How brilliant!

Some weeks ago I had written about “Indian Idol” and had raised a groundswell of protests on this very forum. This time I hope to raise some dust and fury about “India’s Best.” Seem these people are India’s best actors. But are they? I have my doubts.

All they were tested to do were hackneyed scenes from Hindi films. They imitated Rajesh Khanna, Dev Anand, Dilip Kumar, Shah Rukh Khan, etc., all very mannered and typecast actors. They danced and contorted their bodies until, I suspect, the dance floor had holes in it.

Didn’t they have any originality in them? Instead of judging them according to their emoting power in novel situations, they were judged for how they could imitate some hackneyed actors.

So much for originality and innovation in Bollywood. The same old scripts, love stories, stupid comedies, costume dramas repeated again and again, and the same type of actors in formulaic roles. Yes, we need such talented people, as we need Dev Anand clones!

Think of the people who lost in the competition. They were heart broken, crying, hugging each other. Do we all need this melodrama to be shown on television? It brings tears to our eyes, but do we need more tears after all the melodrama shown in our films and serials?

Makes me think about the publishing business. I guess the time when the publishing companies stopped recruiting talent to write for them and appointed agents to look after their need for original works must have been the time when the death knell of publishing was sounded. Something similar seems to be going on in the Indian entertainment industry.

Sure novels and works selected by literary agents sell many copies, indeed millions. But who reads novels with the devotion and ardor there was in the heydays of the literary renaissance? Then editors spent time with authors discussing their work and spent time editing them. Books then had perfection written all over them. Now, all editors are pampered to accept only completely edited works from agents. The result? Mistakes and bad grammar that turns one off easily.

These youngsters in "India's Best" may have a direct entry into the celebrityhood that Bollywood promises. As the girl-band “Viva” had some time earlier (by the way, where are they these days, after all the tears, laughs and hugging?). “Viva” is no more because the sponsors lost interest in them.

This boy and girl pair will be dumped at some time after their movie/s are released. Then they are on their own to fight and God alone knows if they will survive in this dog-bite-dog world of entertainment.

I guess television channels have become richer because of the viewership such programs receive. Television rating points must have climbed upwards like anything, isn’t it? They just love such “reality television” for the melodrama it generates. All those genuine tears and emotions without many rehearsals are good, man.

But be prepared for a lowering of standards, good acting abilities aren’t the ones put on display at such contests. How can even talented actors perform when they know what is at stake? Don’t those rigorous elimination rounds tire them and exhaust them? Is this the correct measure of their talent, this imitation of mannered actors of yesteryears? Many a talent that cannot stand the rigorous process of elimination may be left out in the process.

Who said contests are fair?



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