Anyone who knows me knows by now that I only study in front of the TV. I suspect it’s because anything on TV is so crap these days that I would actually be turned off so much to go and pursue some comparatively less mind-numbing activity like watching paint dry.
Today however, I was completely mesmerized (so mesmerized in fact that I was stirred out of my self-imposed blogexile) by this riveting piece of Indian cinematic achievement - Shaktimaan. For the uninitiated, Shaktimaan is India’s answer to superman. It first aired on Doordarshan, a public broadcast television network (and one of the largest, bringing pain and misery to millions nation-wide right into your sitting rooms!) in Hindi and then was translated to English and is currently airing on Pogo every weekday from 6 to 6 30, turning countless toddlers’ brains into mush. I suspect this is a government initiated effort at population control - putting millions of people out of their misery one episode at a time.
To give you a taste of what to expect in this compelling, provocative, intellectually stimulating piece of entertainment that reflects real world issues, here’s a sample.
The episode is called ‘Geeta is kidnapped’.
It opens with a presumably hearing impaired woman who seems to have had a battle with her makeup set and lost, clutching a piece of paper and storming into what looks like an uncanny imitation of AbuGharib Prison, housing 3 randomly placed chairs and one unfortunate fellow hitting away furiously at a typewriter while staring intently into the monitor of an IBM 360 mounted on a stool. From his over-sized glasses, unkempt hair and khadi bag we understand he is a journalist, in fact a sub-editor for the famous nationally published newspaper where this episode is set.
Geeta, which we understand is the painted poodle’s name, starts frantically waving a sheet of paper under the sub-editor nose who is understandably irked at having his game of minesweeper interrupted.
Geeta : “ Why didn’t you print my article”
Subeditor: “ I cannot print your article. What are you thinking in your head!”
Geeta : “Oh! So you cannot tell me why you have not printed my article is it”
Subeditor: “ See I am the sub-editor, you cannot come talking to me like this! What do you think of yourself. I did not publish it because it is against the policy of the newspaper”
Geeta : “Policy is it? What policy!”
Subeditor: “What kind of a journalist you are. This is really very bad. I am a sub-editor I cannot be wasting my time explaining these minor minor points to you. Shaktimaan is a murderer’s son, you are writing Shaktimaan is a hero. This is against the policy of the newspaper, I cannot publish your article!”
Enter a large fat man wearing dhoti and chewing paan with all the vigor and vitality of a sea-mollusk, we understand he is the Railway Minister of India. Behind him… oh sorry, wrong channel. Enter a large fat man wearing dhoti and chewing paan with all the vigor and vitality of a sea-mollusk, we understand he is the chief editor of this startlingly professional newspaper agency.
Editor:”Arre, what is happening here”
BAM BAM BAM
(Special effects using advanced technology to alternate between 33456xx zoomed-in shots of Geeta’s and the sub-editor’s face, with large nuclear-war-type sound effects in the background, so that viewers are subtly made aware of the hostility exuding thru their minute pores, which are countable by the way, for the truly interested, courtesy of 33456xx zoomed-in shots)
Geeta : “Sir, he is not printing my article”
Editor: “ Arre, why you are not printing her article. Idiot! Fool! You are the most nonsense fellow in this organization. Who do you think you are. Only sub-editor. You cannot do like this.
Subeditor: “ But sir, she said that Shaktimaan is a hero. But he is son of a murderer”
Editor:” Aha, so you will try to put obstacles in her path is it. I know. You do not like to see anything come up in life, that is why your only job is to be putting obstacles in everyone. Geeta is a smart, intelligent girl in our organization and we want more people like her na. But you are only putting obstacles. You get out of my sight. Better publish the article”
Throughout this articulate appeal to one’s higher intellectual senses, the sub-editor is trying to protest with such pearls of verbal manna like “But saar”, “Yackchually” and such other eloquently worded protests peppered by the occasional shrug.
Having expertly diffused the situation with all the tact of a Wild Buffalo in heat, The Editor calls Geeta into his office, a wallpapered rooms stacked with moldy files dating back to 4BC. Reliable sources confirm that the death certificate of Herod the Great lies safely cushioned between two promising looking moulds of high ecosystem activity.
Editor: “ You are very bright girl in the organization. But everyone is having bad things in themselves. I have faults, you also have faults. Everyone is having faults. I will tell you what is your biggest fault”
Geeta : “What sir”
Editor: “ You are only writing about Shaktimaan. See, there are many many things that are happening all around in the world around. You do not even know what it is. You must also write about all the important things happening in the world all around us. Today one important person is getting fellatioated in the city.”
Geeta : “Oh is it? Who is that important person getting felicitated in the city”
Editor: “ That important person getting fellatioated is Dr Cherian. He is a famous scientist. He has done so many good works for the country. America has been after him for years. You know America? They are offering him citizenship. But he has said no. You know why? Because he is a patriot. He has made many inventions but still he wants to be in India only. He is truly a great person. You go there immediately and write a report on this.”
Exit Geeta with a sense of dawning comprehension and new-found respect on her painted face. Camera zooms in on close up of Editor’s paan stained lips for the benefit of lip-readers and hearing impaired viewers (who constitute the majority of the show’s loyal following judging by the decibel levels) so that they can be confused by his mouthing hindi words while English audio streams from the speakers. As we count the number of cavities he has, the editor talks to a wallpapered room about his ploy to send Geeta on such unimportant tasks everyday so that she will forget about Shaktimaan.
BAM BAM BAM
(Zoomed in shot of Editor’s evil grin.
Audio of nuclear explosion.
Zoomed out shot of Editor’s evil grin.
Zoomed in shot of Editor’s raised evil eyebrow.
Audio of nuclear explosion.
Zoomed out shot of Editor’s raised evil eyebrow.
Zoomed in shot of new species of mold-type microorganism copulating.
Audio of nuclear explosion.
Zoomed out shot of new species of mold-type microorganism copulating.)
End Suspense sequence.
Cut to shot of a white-haired, white-bearded, white-eyebrowed man clad in 3 piece suit, shawl, gloves, and intellectual looking glasses, accompanied by nondescript man and several bodyguards wielding AK-47s. Judging from his formal and completely appropriate attire for 45’C Delhi summer, one can only conclude that he must be the world renowned scientist Dr.Cherian whose mind is undoubtedly so occupied with creating earth-shattering inventions that he cannot spare a single brain cell to dress himself in a way that does not look like he’s masquerading as a Sherpa.
Nondescript man: “Sir, There are lot of people here. Let us go thru the back door”
(This, after they have both walked down the long impressive looking steps of an impressive looking building and are now exactly 2 inches before members of the press and other assortments)
Eskimo Scientist: “No I am a patriot. These people are Indian. I will not avoid them. I will answer all their questions. Come, tell me”
Reporter 1:”Sir, what will you invent next”
Eskimo Scientist: “I will invent a machine that will make something out of air and again change it back to air”
(Note: I am NOT making this up! These are his exact words, if you have any doubt, watch ‘Geeta is kidnapped’. This blog cannot be held responsible for any medical complications arising out of such act. You have been warned.)
Reporter 1:”Sir, How far are you successful”
Eskimo Scientist:” I am almost successful in my experiment”
Geeta: “Sir, why don’t u go to America because they have better facility”
Eskimo Scientist: “What are you talking. What nonsense! How you can say like that. India is my country. All Indians are my brothers and sisters. I love my country and I am proud of its rich and varied heritage. I shall always strive to be worthy of it. I shall… (Oh wait, that’s not it, seemed to have sidetracked. Right then…)
What are you talking. What nonsense! How you can say like that. India is my country. Because I am Indian I don’t want facility for research. I will only work in India. All patriots for India must only work in India. America is evil. Die infidel. You will burn in hell for the blood of innocent civilians. Allah is great. Long live… (Oh crap, sidetracked again. Anyway, you get the gist!)
This is when I suffer a slight brain hemorrhage from prolonged watching of this serial and am forced to interrupt my entertainment to receive medical treatment.
So THAT is Shaktimaan, the superman of India. Now you know. Of course, in attempting to recreate the aesthetic and linguistic elegance of the original, certain attributes unfortunately cannot be captured on text. Intonation, for one.
For example, a really authentic and faithful reproduction of
Editor: “ That important person getting fellatioated is Dr Cherian. He is a famous scientist. He has done so many good works for the country. America has been after him from years. You know America? They are offering him citizenship. But he has said no. You know why? Because he is a patriot. He has made many inventions but still he wants to be in India only. He is truly a great person. You go there immediately and write a report on this.”
Will instead read as:
Editor: “ That YIMportant parson getting fellatioated is Dactar TCHAYerian!!! He is a FAAMMous scientist!!! He has done SOOO many good WARKSCHSH for the GUNDRY. YAMrica has been after him for EARS. You know YAMrica? They are offering him JITIJANJIP!!! But he has said NO!!! You know why???!??!!? Because he is a PARROTIoat!!! He has made MANY invenjens but STILL he wants to be in YINdia WONLY!!! He is truly a Greeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaat parson. You go there YIMMMIDIAATLY and write a report on this!! Archyachyachyswchtchushaschth (paan chewing)”
It also helps if you yell at a volume slightly higher than that of a Concorde taking off and spew paan in all directions in the bargain.
After I had been revived from my Shaktimaan induced coma, I wondered who really watches this serial voluntarily. It is a well-established fact that the government has been using tapes of Shaktimaan reruns and other staple Doordarshan fare as means of prying information from the most hardened criminals for decades with quite a good success rate. But the question is, who would out of his own free will, choose to subject himself to such inhuman torture.
On careful retrospection, I realized that Shaktimaan airs in Pogo right between Mr.Bean and Takeshi’s castle. Coincidence? I think not. Obviously this is a ploy by a huge, evil, corrupt, tottering, multinational media conglomerate to do what exactly, well I’m still working on that one, but one thing's for sure, it’s up to no good!
Why else would someone insert this diabolical piece of mind-rotting… uh, ROT oh-so-innocently between two children-targeted comedy shows? This is no doubt motivated by some dark and insidious purpose lurking beneath the surface.
I thought if I knew who was really watching this show; I’d have a better understanding of what’s really behind this show. So I watched the commercials that aired during Shaktimaan’s telecast.
Pantene. Children’s Toys. Munch Chocolate. Rasna. Brittania Biscuits. Maggi Noodles. Pedigree Dogfood. Lion Dates Syrup. Washing detergent. Boost energy drink. Anti-wrinkle cream.
Right. So the show is obviously targeted at long-haired wrinkled cleanliness-obsessed toddler gluttonous hyperactive hearing-impaired colour-blind (hey! Don’t forget the sound effects or the make up) dogs who watch TV at 6 every weekday. Very informative but complete useless. I’m back to square one.
What could anyone possibly gain by inducing brain aneurysms in long-haired wrinkled cleanliness-obsessed toddler gluttonous hyperactive hearing-impaired colour-blind dogs who watch TV at 6 every weekday? I guess some things we’ll never know. The only one who can shed light on this perplexing conundrum is the inappropriately attired Dactar TCHAYerian, who sadly at this moment, is thinking long and hard about how to create something out of nothing and make it nothing once again so that the whole Gundry can benefit from the undeniable usefulness of his patriotic invention.
Where is Shaktimaan when you really need him?