The vintage supernatural/superstition drama has made a golden comeback.
You knew boredom once. Having nothing to read, nothing to write, nothing to watch. Lingering around the house or lying on the bed for hours at a stretch, contemplating the meaning of life or the solution to Theseus’s Paradox.
You were alive and running during the Doordarshan days, and consider yourself the first Indian exponent of the term “idiot box”, though you’re unsure whether it was uttered with reference to the glass cabin the PM stood in on Independence Day or the new CRT you were forced to watch him on. Despite being religious enough to perform the surya namaskar five times a day, watching Ramayan on TV appalled you—you’d much rather visit the nearest shakha and read the lord’s story (with an addendum consisting of the bestselling Dummies Guide to the Pushpak Vimaan and Plastic Surgery).
“The oppressed housewife from Channel 102 has now turned into a mosquito to exact revenge from her evil mom-in-law.”The daily soap years offered no respite either—TV was supposed to be an escape from the slings and arrows you faced in life, not a rerun. You often wished the innocent Tulsi was half as bogged down by the weight of her night-time jewellery as you were by the monotony of your life. There were days when only Nirmal Baba could offer you much-needed respite from the travails of tedium.
No longer though, for the golden era of Indian television has dawned!
For it is only now, 40 years after Mrs. Gandhi’s trendy white streak made its first TV appearance, that the power of Indian creativity has come to the fore. And this revival has been led by the most Indian of genres—the vintage supernatural/superstition drama! For who wouldn’t fancy a couple of seasons of good old ichhadhari naagins?
Indian TV has always been celebrated for its realistic depictions of the rakshasa community. Shape-shifting humans have always been the larger of your two weaknesses (the other being antagonists with forehead-sized bindis and pea-sized brains). Mix the two with a pinch of black-robe baba, and what have you? An all-time blockbuster!
Much to your delight, the trend has been quick to catch on. The oppressed housewife from Channel 102 has now turned into a mosquito to exact revenge from her evil mom-in-law. The wounded soldier from 104 was recently visited by an all-curing frog while it seems six of the seven members of the happy family from 107 were actually aliens. Babas, it is heard, have been much in demand for prime-time slots on India TV and Times Now. You don’t mind, clearly!
And now that your TV has finally come to life, you look forward for the next 10-year-old series to turn supernatural, as a last-ditch effort to stay alive. And to the next season of Bigg Boss featuring an amalgamation creatures from worlds known and unknown (i.e., same old).
Boredom is a distant relative now.
Also published at HuffPost India.