Gouri Dange: Surprise! The non-Simipering talk show

14 Dec,2011

By Gouri Dange

 

I quite like Love to Hate You (Star World 7pm). There, I’ve said it – I actually like something on Indian television. And no, it’s not only about the eye-candy host chap. His cuteness helps, but there’s more to it than just that. I find him a relaxed non-badgery host, almost old-world if I can use that expression, in the way he totally avoids the two syndromes that afflict most Indian TV hosts – which are: a) insufferable peacock preening, b) equally insufferable toadying-to-the- guest.

 

In Love to Hate You (what’s with the ugly title lettering, though?), the host brings on a celebrity guest and an ordinary guest who dislikes the celebrity. The ordinary one gets a chance to speak his/her mind about why they don’t like the person’s work; and what really works about this is that they come up with pretty incisive, convincing and articulate stuff about the celeb that they don’t like. The other nice thing is that the celeb takes all this on board, and defends him/herself pretty ably. And yet, the makers of this show avoid the temptation of letting it all descend into a slanging match (a la TV debates) where the two participants circle each other with low growls, fangs exposed and hackles rising.

 

The two people, and their host (the dishy one) actually talk, no one shouts, and the camera doesn’t subtly go into those ‘kill, kill, kill’ kind of angles used to cover wrestling matches. For the first time, I see people not interrupting each other, and actually looking interested in the other’s viewpoint, absorbing it, and then replying instead of rubbishing the point.

 

The host plays mediator at times, completely at ease with himself and his guests, and never harangues. Mercifully, there is no Simipering, I mean simpering, and no Daah-ling-ing of anyone. If he knows the celeb guest well, the host makes that clear in a fairly matter-of-fact way, rather than using that as a chance to create an instant club of ‘us’ness. I like it!

 

The format allows the ‘hater’ to first mouth-off at the ‘hatee’, without actually facing the hatee. And with very specific reasons (not just ‘your books suck’ or ‘your singing is awful’, but with examples of the suckiness or tunelessness.) The two are then put together, and the hatee manfully (personfully) sits through some of the criticism. Obviously the hatee too is either chosen for his/her maturity, and does not pout and say provocative or defensive stuff back. The hater is sometimes drawn into trying his/her hand at what the hatee does, and sportingly admits that it is hard work! And yet the whole thing doesn’t seem overly rigged in any direction.

 

There should be a new genre-label coined for shows in which the celeb is put in the dock… it’s not just a talk show, it’s a ‘talk your way out of this’ kind of show, right?

 

What is astounding about Love to Hate You, so far, is that one actually sees both guests backing down and shifting positions gracefully at times. The host is not invested in making anyone feel horrible, and has not developed cutting-off and putting-down or cosying-up into a fine art.

 

(Contrast this with the ‘debates’ in which it’s usually Delhi Harpies versus Mumbai Sharpies, all conducted by Ms Hector or Mr Harangue, and you’ll know why I am so taken with this new show.)

 

And Tears In The Kitchen

On another note, did I say earlier that I find the combo of food and tears and runny noses on MasterChef (Indian and Oz) unpleasant? Well, that was tame stuff, apparently, now that MasterChef USA is here, with bleeped out words from judges, clanging of garbage pails in which not-good preparations are hurled, and many of the contestants probably back to bedwetting at nights. So now tears, snot and bladder malfunction too, in the kitchen… Please, spare me the drama and let me go next door and have a masala dosa.

 

There is a new amusing sign that MasterChef is creating a whole new downstream market of buy-buy-buying Indian consumers: People who can’t cook or usually have someone cooking their meals, are suddenly re-doing their kitchens into replicas of the MasterChef sets. There’s wall-to-wall buff steel everywhere, six- and eight-burner stove tops, industrial-sized ovens, knives and choppers with which you can fell a buffalo. Words like claypot, tureen, coulis, hop, are being bandied about with eager-sophistication.

 

I recently visited one such home, and sat watching a hapless chicken going round and round on a giant rotisserie, stubbornly refusing to get cooked. The host-cook, a man who can’t fry an egg, watched grimly on, while his wife wistfully fingered the take-away menu of the kabab-korner down the road. On my way home, I stopped at the bhurji cartwallah and had the best, made in minutes on a dented tava atop an old biscuit tin.

 

Naming no Names is the mid-week column where novelist, columnist and counsellor Gouri Dange presents her tongue-in-cheek view of our world. The views expressed here are her own.

Post a Comment 

3 responses to “Gouri Dange: Surprise! The non-Simipering talk show”

  1. Pooja says:

    Watched the show thanks to this column. Really enjoyed the honest display of face-to-face criticism. I wish I could introduce a Love to Hate You Hour at the office 🙂 Will definitely reduce some of the back channels chat!

    • Gouri Dange says:

      aha, then also see the show on BBC Entertainment where the boss goes incognito to his work place among the ranks…it’s called something like Boss’s Day Out…i think

  2. Civil Me says:

    Haven’t watched Love to Hate You — but would Love to Watch It now!

    But if you hate the insufferable shouting matches that go on in the name of exciting discussion, where we can’t hear either point of view, I’m there fully with you.