Not What You Think. Close, but not quite. This post is about Indian television. So what's on the Swami screen?
As one would expect, most channels are filled with elaborate musicals. Then there are the over-the-top music videos dripping with huge dance numbers and silly telenovela-like soap operas -- both taking their style cues from Bollywood. There are also tons of competition shows in the "Idol" vein.
Filling out the programming are a surprising bunch of news yap shows like the type on Fox or MSNBC. Just imagine how many talking heads are available in a country of 1.2 billion and you get a pile of mind-numbing, quick-talking, garish, graphic talkathons. Maybe those shows are a sign of a vibrant, albeit, sometimes corrupt public life. Or as Woody Allen says in Stardust Memories, "I'm for total honest democracy. I also believe the American system can work." Easily adaptable to India.
Those shows are in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and other Indian languages. For the English language channels, we get the expected exports from the US and UK. CNN, BBC, Discovery, HBO, WB, TCM, FX etc. Psssst, ruin their reputation: HBO runs commercials. Tons of them.
English language programming really comes down to two similar genres. Action movies and nature shows that are heavy on hunting animals. It's all about the killing -- human or beast -- the language that's spoken universally around the world. Throw in the occasional funniest home video (silent movie descendent) or car/factory (how-to) shows and that's what's on TV.
There is one exception. On one of the English channels, we actually get an India-based show. It's great.
Our hero, Lisa, travels around India, visiting various jewelry stores and shops selling wearable items that contain gold. She tries on a pile of the stuff, makes sure to shout out prices and then moves on to more establishments. Week after week. Robin Leach would be so proud!