Thursday, July 23, 2009

Let's Face the Truth

Let’s face the truth. Let’s admit there’s a bit of a voyeur in all of us. Our ordinary, mundane lives, stitched together by humdrum routine, make us easy prey for TRP hunters. We ogle, we leer and we drool at the sight of nasty idiot box sirens exposing their oh-gawd-how-terrible past. We watch the sizzling emotional striptease in rapt attention. So, if Sach Ka Saamna confronts an Urvashi Dholakia with the disrobing question if she had been expelled after she conceived during her college days, the prude in each one of us says yes and no at the same time. In public, we let the nays have it. We have to make a show of the verbal abuse we can rain down on the Moment of Truth. We love it but we shout out aloud from rooftops how deeply offended we are.

That is the despicable plateau of what we presume to be the moral high ground of Indian culture. We allow ourselves to be titillated but we would never on this godforsaken earth admit the fact of that titillation. We forget that there’s nothing to be ashamed of. Hypocrisy is an integral part of every culture. The Taliban builds its morality superstructure on foundations of fantastic hypocrisy. Even the open and frank Americans are neat and tidy hypocrites. The degree of advancement of a civilization depends on the subtleties and finesse of its inherent hypocrisy. It can’t be as crass and obvious as that of our Rajya Sabha MPs who raised the Sach Ka Saamna issue in such a helplessly offended manner.

Societies and their moral policemen survive on concealing their women’s attitude to sex or lust. Dholakia made the viewers quite excitable with her admission that she loved watching male strippers. Another contestant gave away the truth that she would have probably loved sleeping with somebody else other than her husband. Skeletons like her husband was an alcoholic tumbled out with liquid ease. There may have been even more interesting episodes, similarly sparkling in content, which I unfortunately didn’t have the time to watch. Kambli’s revelation that Sachin never did much for him was a relatively innocent confession and paled into insignificance in comparison with what followed.

Our politicians who believe it is their business to have an opinion on everything have now intervened. They want the content suitably inspected before the show-host goes on air. Censorship is the only option available to politically-inclined wise men when they find new truths have overtaken their stagnant lives. Their response, therefore, has been predictable. Culture is a living entity and it knows that it has to be finally answerable to the logic of commerce not to the stale wisdom of politicians imprisoned in medieval inhibitions.

At the same time, let’s agree also there’s nothing to laud about Sach Ka Saamna. It is possibly a fixed entertainment show planned carefully with out-of-job entertainers. It’s a game with your dirty linen that you play in public for money. If the credulous audience laps it up, so be it. I subscribe to the fundamental logic that every society gets the soap or reality show it deserves. A political protest, which doesn’t have the open backing of the viewing public, is bound to help the ratings soar. More people will be attracted to the nudity of a soul whose old wounds are yet to heal and sores fester before the powerful camera lenses.

Drab lives they say feed on lives that are lived with a greater degree of fun and sin. For some, as Robert Frost explained, the road not taken would always be a regret. Let not a discussion on the indefinable word -- Culture -- lose its way in that labyrinth. Let's not analyze the reasons for greater viewing of Saach Ka Saamna. Let’s only admit there’s an insatiable hunger for a confession-based reality show in today’s India.

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