The NITK Numbskulls Page

TV: On the control being remote and short films

Posted in movies by wanderlust on June 26, 2008

I’d quite lost the TV addiction due to NITK. Apart from cricket, I’ve never watched anything in the GB TV room, thanks to the consensus there being on shows I really hate to watch, ranging from Indian Idol to K-serials.

Apart from that, I’ve had my main source of news as the Internet for quite a while now. Which makes all the crap shown on TV quite boring, repetitive, hackneyed, biased, unintelligent and aimed at misinformation and sensationalization aimed at increasing TRPs – like someone said at Last Word @ Engi ’08, some 700 people decide what the whole nation watches.

I’ve lost the taste for television. And the non-habit has become so entrenched that I don’t even watch the movies I mark with a tick in the newspaper listings while doing the Su-doku. So when a friend messaged me saying Joe Sat concert was on VH1, I took it as an excuse to switch on the idiot box for once.

Wonder of wonders, the remote that worked so well just yesterday wasn’t, now. Or maybe I just absorb electricity and infra-red waves. I was reduced to walking back and forth to change channels. And for the first time, I came close to questioning my paranoia about sitting too close to the TV that might ruin your eyes. Yeah, they say there’s no concrete evidence on that, but if I went by that, I would be defeating the whole purpose of a paranoia.

So… well… there was no changing channels at short intervals. It actually felt good, not being a slave to a low attention span. And not acting on the impulse of “Egad… I might be missing out on what’s happening in Star One.. and what the hell are they now playing on VH1?”

For the first time in a long time, I felt in control. [Ooh, corny line!]

Moving on to the second part of the title, I chanced upon this show called Gateway. From what I saw of it (which was pitifully less), it seemed an awesome show with a deserving winner, but according to some others, it was just an elaborate excuse for Ashok Amritraj to give a Hollywood internship and a dream directorial assignment under his Hyde Park Entertainment away to Raj Babbar’s son-in-law Bejoy Nambiar.

I was quite impressed by two short films of Bejoy that I saw – I only caught two episodes.

I don’t remember what the first one was called, but it went like this. There was a middle-aged man, and a younger man touring Mumbai. They are taking pictures around the various tourist spots and landmarks. The middle-aged man seems to be in every frame. And the second-last shot shows the middle-aged man feeling the pictures – he’s blind! And then you realize you should have seen it all along.

The second one was on the last episode. It was called Soap. Something about a man (Jackie Shroff) watching a channel on TV that seems to mirror his life. And everything that is shown on TV seems to be happening to him in the near future. So he fixes his breaking marriage, his daughter getting abused, his coworkers making fun of him… when he sees him fallen with his head bleeding. Turns out he does get slightly bruised, but the actor playing him in the soap is bleeding even more profusely at the same scene.

The only thing I didn’t like was the ending – he quits watching the soap, his wife starts watching it. The standard it-starts-all-over-again ending.

His flicks were full of life, well-shot, contemporary and all those things that makes for watchable, believable, entertaining viewing. Quite unlike the other finalist Prashant, whose ten-minute film was on alien abductions and subsequent matings with earth women, and the wonder-progeny that produced – “Children of Light”, apparently. I found the narration unnecessary and irrelevant, the performances shoddy, the dialogues even more so. The SFX might have been innovative, but it really didn’t improve the film in any way.

Bejoy no doubt was good, but heck, he’s supposed to be – he’s been assistant director for Bollywood movies, and he’s even worked under Mani Ratnam for Guru! And there was talk of the rules being bent to include him among the final 18…

I checked out the Gateway site, and the entry videos. Some if not most are way, way better than those shown in that miserable excuse for a movie called Dus Kahaaniyan. However, I didn’t understand Bejoy Nambiar’s entry, an international award winning short film called Reflections, starring – hold your breath – Mohanlal.

I’m still in the process of watching all the episodes, but I really must say it was a great concept… for once the viewer could judge… movies are made for the viewer, aren’t they? Quite unlike all those singing and dancing contests where the differences between good and better are so subtle they are imperceptible to the untrained eye or ear. Besides, a film takes time to get done, so there’s less of a question of “something went wrong in those four minutes”. I’d surely like to watch another season.

And there have been movies that have made me feel “Heck, I can do better than that!”, but I guess I won’t, for starters because I’ll have to actually sit down and do something more than armchair filmmaking.

Postscript: Now for something that’ll bring together both the aspects I’ve mentioned. I once saw this ad. There’s this old-ish man who sits down to watch his TV. He gets bored of what he’s watching and proceeds to change the channel. He ignores the remote and walks all the way to the TV to change channels. After a few seconds, it’s apparent he’s zapping channels, but each time he changes the channel, he walks all the way to the TV and back. And then’s the copy: Diabetes can be controlled with exercise. Make the time.

Post-Postscript: I wrote this quite a long time back, it was languishing among the incomplete drafts… I’d like to add I now watch Get Gorgeous 5 and Splitsvilla. The former is on [V], about grooming and picking models, and the latter is on MTV and is about… well…. two former Roadies contestants looking for love and co-hosts for shows… you have some fifteen-twenty girls looking to get the attention of two bad-looking, totally uninteresting, badly-dressed men, who give them tasks every day, and “dump” one girl at the end of the day. Sure hope there’s atleast one girl who walks out of the show saying “I find you both to be boring, not at all goodlooking, chauvinistic, and heck, you could use some English classes and gym sessions. I’m dumping you.”. And it’d probably be more awesome if the girl did this after “winning” the contest.

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