Indian television

Channel surfing: When light snacking, don’t forget to look at the label

Lifestyle shows don’t offer much of an escape from biases and clichés.

The news is never good news anymore, so I can’t blame you if you’re also flicking channels on a weekend, looking for something light to snack on. Appointment viewing is passé, but there is something liberating about choosing from among a pre-selected list and not having any control on what’s on there. Also, sometimes binge-watching gets tiring.

So if Gotham is my guilty pleasure when I’m feeling particularly brain-fried (and I’ll blame whichever airline it was that introduced me to the show last year), Masterchef Australia has more than its share of everybody hooked – it’s beautifully shot, choreographed and the in-built drama, no less.

One morning, after a small dose of Masterchef Australia, I tuned in to the Tara Sharma show, having only belatedly discovering her online on YouTube. I had enjoyed one or two episodes and been impressed by the production quality, not to mention the star power – she always seems to get some celebrity guest or the other. This should be fun, I thought.

I’m not sure what’s getting lost in transition from YouTube to Star World, but it was saccharine stuff.
I tuned in just as there was a “Pampers challenge” with two men, a woman and three teddy bears. No prizes for guessing who won that challenge? (The woman, who turns out to be the very talented Genesia Alves). At that point, I missed regular astons, and didn’t know who was who.

The hostess earnestly asked her three guests to give tips or advice to others on parenting. (Here’s a tip, gratis: Don’t do it! No one wants your unsolicited advice.)

But loosely paraphrased, Alves said, “Give the dad the opportunity to see how much fun it is.” One of the male guests said something along the lines of, “For every father, make a good team with your wife, don’t doubt your wife. Also, something about how that partnership is what every child needs.”

I would never have known.

That question again, but a different interrogator

I flicked back to another channel to ease my nerves, coming back only to see part of Sharma’s interview with Sonam Kapoor, who in the teaser undoubtedly piqued viewer interest with a story of being a brat on set as a child. She threw a tantrum because her shoelaces came untied, so she insisted on sitting on dad Anil Kapoor’s lap and settled down only after he tied the laces for her.

I’m sure the rest of the film crew appreciated that.

Normally, I’m quite a fan of Kapoor’s candour and charming laugh. So I enjoyed hearing about how she’s been independent from a young age. She was apparently living at home but after 18 didn’t get an allowance from her father. She’s suitably vague on whether her parents were strict – they didn’t allow to her to do some stuff, but if she really wanted to do it, she could. And she appreciates the boundaries and lessons. Her message to all daughters out there is to listen to your parents, learn from their mistakes as well as their triumphs, pointing out that as kids we tend to think we know better, and focus on their mistakes.

That’s true, enough.

But just when I thought we’d find some suitably anodyne words with which to wind down, Sharma asks Kapoor, “Do you have maternal instincts? Would you like to be a mom, soon-ish?”

She’s met with that trademark tinkle of laughter and again, suitably vaguely, I’m not even married yet. She’s asked, “What kind of husband would you like?”

I’m almost convinced that the range of furniture on sale from PepperFry (the main sponsor of the show) includes various models – the hunk; the intellectual; the fellow actor. Sadly, no such display was brought out. Kapoor giggled a bit and talked about wanting to be married at some point, and also said that whenever she does have a child, she will be a hands-on mother and not be one of those mums who delegate all that motherly work, or what-not. Sigh.

Considering how much grief and brouhaha there was about Rajdeep Sardesai asking Sania Mirza that question – rightfully so, to some extent, as he himself realised while apologising go her – why is it alright when it’s women asking other women? Or do we really not expect much more from our actors and celebrities than to play that ultimate role, mother- or wife-in-waiting?

Amrita Tripathi is an author and recovering news junkie. She can be reached @amritat.

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