Indian television is a funny land. Like the rest of the world, Indian TV now has some 683 (or so) channels out of which most of them air the dreaded Saas-Bahu sagas.
And then there are a handful English sitcoms that air with the same five shows on repeat at nights and then on the weekends. Television as such has become boring.
I don’t like watching TV precisely for these reasons. Since I catch the re-runs of the American/Australian shows on any given weekend, watching the idiot box on schedule has been limited to following the Indian cricket team winning the world cup or an odd old Hindi movie that I would want to catch on Doordarshan. (Ah! Nostalgia).
But on odd days when I have switched it on for the lack of anything better to do, I have only ended up being exasperated. Here’s why... Apparently Indian audience is not mature enough to read words like ‘condom’ or ‘sex’. I say ‘read’ because they are perfectly loud and clear when the character is saying them in the show or movie. But when it comes to the subtitles the words have been asterisked or changed to be made suitable.
So, ‘Go to hell’ becomes ‘Go to heck’, and even ‘Bottom of the shelf’ becomes ‘Rear of the shelf’. I once witnessed a subtitle that went ‘It is a b*** to my self-esteem’ – the censored word was blow!!! It is almost as if people with jobs of subtitling and censorship don’t know English at all. It’s all just a b***ytrap! A trap that was laid out so we would fall for the govt conspiracy and go n**s so we would pay Rs 100, no Rs 1,000, no Rs 10,000 per litre for petrol by the end of this September.
Another bright example of how bizarre things can get, in the same scene the word illicit was beeped out while the next sentence started with the hero cursing ‘Shit’ which was not.
Added to that are beeps that are perfectly ill timed, and complete scenes that are missing from a movie owing to the so-called gory/ inappropriate scenes. By inappropriate, I believe they mean that cuddling or a little kiss is wrong, however, the likes of Veena Malik/Dolly Bindra exposing and using cuss words on primetime TV is absolutely fine.
Digest this — in ‘Iron Man’, Tony Stark has just crawled back to his lab, apparently dying, we see Pepper Potts walk in and cut to — presto! Iron Man is fighting again. The scene was cut, because showing a reactor in Iron Man’s chest is too ‘gory’ I guess. This, in a country where women are raped once in 20 minutes, and flashed on television with little left to imagination in the countless re-enactments at primetime.
Ross and Rachel don’t kiss on ‘Friends’ anymore. Howard and Bernadette get married and never have the ‘you may now kiss the bride’ moment. I don’t know why channels even bothered airing ‘I am Legend’. And what is the sense of taking out scenes from a fantasy fiction like ‘Lord of the Rings’?
Downloading the movie doesn’t seem so bad after all, because the DVD versions have the same edits. And people still wonder why piracy is increasing by the day!
It’s true that children have no business watching ‘A’ rated movies but that’s the parents` duty to turn the TV off. The parents need to keep an eye on what their children are looking at on television. So it makes no sense that you watch the legendary ‘Jaws’ on TV while most of the movie has been cut to make it “suitable for family viewing in India”. But obviously you don’t turn your kids out of the room because now it has been edited at the appropriate places. I have seen parents take toddlers to ‘Saat Khoon Maaf’, and yet the blatant discrimination against Hollywood.
Internet, prime time news, reality TV programs, newspaper entertainment sections, and magazines they all have the skimpy clothed men and women splashed across them in every possible way. Parents and guardians don’t just stop using these altogether, instead what they need to do is keep their children aware, and use their discretion to expose them to what they feel is appropriate. But that is no excuse for the arbitrary editing and absolutely mindless subtitles that the audience is forced to watch.
I wish the torture stops so I wouldn’t have to force myself to press the off ‘B**ton’ every time I try watching a Hollywood movie on TV.
This article was first published in zeenews.india.com