Tag Archives: Doordarshan

movers-and-shakers-shekhar-suman

Movers and Shakers

If you grew up in the era of Doordarshan, ‘Surabhi’, ‘Subah Savere’ and ‘Good Morning India’ will ring gigantic, creaky bells in your head.

I remember watching everything on television – from the time the transmission began at 5 in the morning, to the time it ended at 11 pm. From the friendly aunty giving out the deaf and dumb news, the ascetic professor teaching physics formulae in Gyan darshan, to the middle aged scientist giving agricultural tips in Krishi Darshan. If there was something on TV, I was standing in front of it – watching in awe the shapes and colours, the sounds that sprang out of the box.

A few years down the line, the cable television revolution happened. I clearly remember how I heard about it. I used to play cricket in front of our house. One such day, a kid came up to me and said, “How many channels do you get on your TV?”

I looked at him as if he had asked me how many  kidneys I had. “Two”.

“We get more than 20 channels”, he said. I am generally a skeptic, so I had my doubts. I later went to his house, and was amazed to witness the miracle – in bright, shiny colours. He explained to me that there were channels that showed films all day. Only films. All day. I was shocked.

What about the Sunday evening 4.30 slot? If they showed films all day, how did the family do any work? Didn’t they all just sit and watch films day in and day out? And what about the channels that showed news all day? Who watched that channel? Who would watch a channel that showed news all day when there was a channel that was showing films all day? I felt lost, amidst the choices the remote offered, and the questions my brain posed.

In a few years, I was comfortable with cable television. Of course, we had only Doordarshan at home, but my friends at school spoke to me about the marvels of cable television. About Zee Horror show episodes, of MTV albums, of Cartoon Network shows. Eventually, we jumped on to the cable television bandwagon too.

And since I used to watch Subah Savere and Krishi Darshan, when I watched Movers and Shakers for the first time, I was charmed.

I had seen Shekhar Suman in Dekh Bhai Dekh and other shows on DD. Amidst the loud, caricaturish shows on television, his show came as a breath of fresh air.

Firstly, he openly took potshots at ministers, cricketers, and film stars – the holy trinity of our country. I marveled at the balls of the guy who could mimic Vajpayee, Laloo, Javagal Srinath on national television and get away with it.

The choice of guests – from artists, to sportsmen, writers, musicians, ad-men, to poets. For the first time, I felt that we had more than just film stars in our country. And Shekhar Suman had this way of bringing out the best from the guest.

He was cheeky with the younger ones, but reverential to the older ones. I remember watching Pandit Jasraj’s episode. Who would have thought that the man was utterly hilarious? That the man who could churn out sargams like a cursing rishi, could also be a chivalrous flirt with a pretty woman? Or the episode with Ratna Pathak Shah, or the one with Laloo himself?

Switching between Hindi and English, cheeky and inquisitive, Shekhar Suman managed a certain freshness into the show that kept me glued.

Even though Movers and Shakers was the Indian version of Letterman and Leno, it gave the younger ones something to connect to. We were too young for Shanti and Buniyaad, and slightly older for Mowgli and Captain Vyom. I was beginning to figure out news and personalities, and the show made me feel like an adult, laughing with the older ones. Shekhar Suman mixed Indian cynicism with a certain Atithi Devo Bhava respect that was perfect for the audience.

Apart from Sonu Nigam’s Sa Re Ga Ma, this was the only show I would watch religiously.

And then I grew up.

*

A few days back, I heard that the show was being rebooted.

Shekhar Suman was still there, the format was the same, even the band – Rubber Band – was the same. The man looked strangely prosthetic, like a Hindi remake of Curious Case of Benjamin Button produced by K.C. Bokadia.

The Curious Case of Shekar Suman.

Shekar Suman ki Anokhi Kahaani

The jokes remained the same, but criticizing a politician didn’t seem so sacrilegious anymore. ‘Rubber Band’ sounded like the tacky PJs I put up on Facebook. (I always wanted to have a band. Today, I only have rubber band).

After 15 minutes, I changed the channel. Probably because I knew there was a hundred other things I could watch. Or because he didn’t seem like the genuine, cheeky Shekhar Suman anymore. By then, Raju Srivastav had taken over my imagination. I would watch his sets over and over, I knew most of them by heart. In comparison, it was sad to see Shekar Suman mimic Vajpayee and Laloo, that those were the only voices he could do.

Or probably because I knew that I could always log into the internet, I could watch a film, play a game, talk to a friend, or stalk someone on Facebook. I don’t know what it was, but I just couldn’t connect to the show this time around.

Or may be some feelings are meant for a particular era, not meant to be felt again.

*

The Amazing Shaktimaan

It was a lazy evening. The sun was setting, and we were sitting on the rocks, and two of my friends were debating on who was the greatest superhero – Superman or Batman?

I just sat back and smiled at their ignorance. These fellows were lightyears away from the truth. The greatest Superhero of all time was not some Marvel of the West. DC ki AC ki taisi.

The greatest superhero was right here. Homegrown, and our very own.


Now wait, all you snobs who read this and sniggered, just you wait. In the next ten minutes, I am going to wipe that smirk off your face.

Here are some of the reasons why Shaktimaan can beat any of the others with his left hand (he is right handed):

Powers: What differentiates a Superhero from a hero? Quite simply the superpowers they have.

The conventional superheroes have a limited set of powers that they exercise when they get an opportunity. Most of these powers are related to strength, speed, agility, or a special weapon. And here is where Shaktimaan beats the others hollow.

HE HAS GOT INFINITE POWERS.

Being a wise man, Gandalf never shows his backside to Shaktimaan.

Every episode of Shaktimaan revealed a new power. He could fly, burn metal with his gaze, crush rocks with his bare hands, among many other awesome things. Now, suppose Superman is flying to Canada to save someone. You construct a huge wall in middle. What does the Man of Steel do? Turn around and risk flying over the Bermuda Triangle. What does Shaktimaan do? He just appears there!

AWESOMENESS TEST #1: DIFFUSE A NUCLEAR MISSILE

How Iron Man does it: Check for speed, velocity, trajectory, impact, and target.

How Shaktimaan does it: Bicycle kick

You see, in the 21st century, you cannot fall back on your limited set of powers. You have to innovate and use your mind to work out of problems. And Shaktimaan? Unlimited powers, mofos! Eat that!!

Shaktimaan propogates Indian culture:

As your parents, elders, neighbours, their elders, politicians, TV shows, films, and anyone else will tell you, what makes us the greatest nation in the world in spite of our poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, and corruption, is our culture.

Now, Shaktimaan upholds Indian culture. He never does vulgar stuff (like that Superman fellow flying around in his inners) or He-Man (whose costume and bob-cut blond hair make you wonder – “Is He Man?”)

Shaktimaan was born out of the rays that came out of the foreheads of seven rishis, and hence Indian culture is inherently there inside him. He regularly chants Gayatri mantra, Om, and other such prayers on the show.

Shaktimaan does not have sidekicks and lady loves:

Even though Superman has been around for more than 50 years, the charms of a woman still make him go weak in the knees. Spiderman fellow toh is a big pansy fuck, peeping into a girl’s window in the night. Which superhero does that, man?

A superhero’s life may be awesome, but the one curse they share is that they cannot marry, start a family, and go shopping – maximum they get to kiss the girl in the end of the film, that’s all. Even though they know this, all the superheroes cannot resist the charms of a woman.

Shaktimaan? Hah! He has resisted Geeta’s charms for more than a decade now. He doesn’t indulge in love-shove bullshit (also it’s not Indian culture, ya).

Another thing superheroes suffer is sidekicks. Now tell me, if you are a superhero, why do you need a sidekick? Why not create an army then? Losers! No wonder Batman’s sidekick is called Dick! Shaktimaan is enough by himself, ok? He doesn’t need these daisydicks sidekicks and other distractions.

Shaktimaan has a paunch:

In India, everyone has a paunch. We are a country of extremes when it comes to body shapes – an Indian will either be stick thin, or have a paunch. Shaktimaan, who understands market dynamics (plus the whole rishi forehead – centre of knowledge thing), has a paunch, and has no qualms showing it off.

Shaktimaan packing a paunch

In this way, he gives hope to millions of Indians to aspire to become better, super versions of themselves. And what is this need to have abs and all, man? If you are a superhero, you anyway have superpowers. Why do you need to wake up in the morning and do pushups and crunches? Dumb fellows!

Shaktimaan is concerned about the future of the country:

Shaktimaan has a humane side. After every episode, he advices children on different subjects – like switching off fans and lights before leaving the room. His sole purpose of existence is not just victory of good over evil. He is not avenging his father’s death. He is concerned in creating good citizens for the country.

Also, in the 21st century, one cannot go about breaking bridges and buildings. One needs to think about the environment, sustainable superheroism, and limited resources. This is where Shaktimaan scores over others by a large distance.

Sl. No. Superman Spiderman Batman Ironman Shaktimaan
Can fly Yes No No Yes Yes
X- Ray vision Yes No No Yes Yes
Concerned about Society Yes No No No Yes
Free from female distraction No No No No Yes
Can you walk around in his costume? No No Yes No Yes
Can deal with nuclear attacks Yes No No Yes Yes
Loves kids Yes Yes No NA Yes
Emit Fire, Water, and use other elements? No No No No Yes

Yeah, fuckers! Who is laughing now?

Unfortunately, for all his awesomeness, Shaktimaan was given a raw deal. If it was aired on BBC, we would have had aliens sitting in a dharna demanding him for themselves. Unfortunately, he was on Doordarshan.

And the world forgot about him – the Messiah of the Good, the hero with a heart, fists of steel, and at the same time a khata-peeta khaandan ka ladka.

You were not meant for this age. Your time did not respect you. On behalf of the world, the era, and all the homo sapiens of the earth, all I can say is: