Gouri Dange: A Random Harvest

18 Jan,2012

By Gouri Dange


I honestly tried, the other day, to watch a random Hindi soap. I first hid the remote, so that I was not tempted to shout in Marathi “shyaa kay rubbish” and switch channels. So I hung in there. While I watched the crumpled drama unfolding, I also noticed the way they put together a sequence even now, in most soap opera shoots. Which is that most of the actors have no idea what the script is or what episode they’re shooting for. The director or eighth assistant director is put in charge of extracting (yes, like toothpaste from a finished tube) reaction shots from one actor. The seventh assistant director is getting another actor to deliver lines, of course without anyone in front of him/her to give appropriate reactions. “Sab editing mey ho jaygega” is the assurance that is given. And there you are, watching the results – just a series of close-ups and chopped up shots that are supposed to make up a scene.


Anyway, all this is old hat, and the one soap that I used to watch that looked like real people and real situations and real interiors (Ladies Special) and good composite shots with several actors actually in the same frame, was summarily pulled off the air a while ago, reconfirming that I live in a bubble.


So then I took hold of the remote again, and pressed the ‘i’ button on it – i for information about this particular soap. Here is the information provided by the channel, and now you tell me, does this not merit jumping to the next channel:  ‘Vijay stops Jay from being reckless and she realizes that Moniya will eventually hurt Uday’s ego. Uday threatens Moniya into coming for a drive. Moniya is getting bored and is expected to spot Akash.’  (I swear I am not making this up – including the first confusing ‘she’ in reference to said Vijay and Jay.) All I could say was huh? and switch channels.


There was Alfred Hitchcock Presents on FX. I watched a full episode, and I may be committing a big crime here by saying this, but it was rather boring and flat. This is the second one that I watched, and I was disappointed for the second time. There were simpleton-set-ups, trite dialogues, and predictable endings. To top it all, Hitch himself appears at the end, and where earlier he would add a grim note and send more shivers down your spine, in these episodes he further dilutes the effect by making some joke about the episode or the victim. No fun… whatever happened to the episodes that would leave you so frozen in fear that you would not dare put your foot off the sofa to get to your bedroom, when it was done?  But of course I loved the lighting, the B&W faces, the Classic American diction that was different from today’s American mumble.


On I wandered randomly, without much hope, to be rewarded at 7.30 pm by Classic Legends on Z Classic. Javed Akhtar talks about some of the greats of Hindi Cinema (this time it was Bimal Roy). And what a raconteur he is. I am told he speaks from memory and not a written script at all, and I believe it. Firstly it is such a pleasure to hear good Hindi (after a day of listening to the chuckleheads on FM Radio in your car speaking the idiot-version of ‘chat-pata’ Hindi). And then there are his insights, the stories, and those little particular things that he points the viewer towards, before showing a small clip that illustrates his point. It is as if he shows you that one pivot of the entire film that he is talking about, that one crucial well-oiled piece of machinery, on which that film rides. You have been up until then unconscious of it, but what he tells you about it and the clip that he chooses to show – they give you that ‘aha’ moment; you recognize why you have been so involved and moved by that particular part.  For instance, he spoke about the forlon foghorn of the boat scene in Bandini, and when the clip is played, you say to yourself, ‘of course, I know how this sound makes me feel whenever I have seen it!’ A programme like this sets off your own memories and associations, as all legends must and do.


I have only one crib (or perhaps three) about this programme. Why such a generic and vague sounding title ‘Classic Legends’? Why the cold set which looks like Javed Akhtar has been plucked out of his own sitting room and placed in some large desolate half-warehouse  half-disco during off hours?  And lastly, you have to listen to the programme at a fairly high volume (prompting others around you to smirk about you going deaf etc) because the last three words of each sentence are simply not audible, or are severely shortened/eaten up. Given that Javed Akhtar’s every word counts, I feel slightly cheated.


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One response to “Gouri Dange: A Random Harvest”

  1. ChannelSwitcher says:

    Gouri, you’ve gotta call a spade a spade.

    “shyaa kay rubbish” is not Marathi, it is standard Minglish. Or perhaps E-marathi.

    And, BTW, I hope you’re not implying that Marathi soaps are any better. They’re not.

    But, yes, Javed Akhtar rocks.