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Guest Column Newsmanic: Top 10 dumb lines on the idiot box

26-June-2009
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Guest Column Newsmanic: Top 10 dumb lines on the idiot box

I always thought that the immortal Amitabh line in Sholay, “Tera naam kya hain, Basanti” (what’s your name, Basanti?) was unbeatable for its eloquent, if deliberate, stupidity. But try this for competition: NDTV’s Nagma was in Surat, outside a shop that caters to Andhra migrants. Nagma, to the shopkeeper: Aap ka naam bataiye, Telugu mein bataiye (tell us your name, tell us your name in Telugu)! He said his name was ‘Anil’. Wonder what his name would be Hindi!

That was the tailpiece that brought up the rear of my inaugural column on e4m. In the weeks since, I have added to the collection. So here’s my list of Top 10 dumb lines on TV. They are in random order. Some channels figure more than the others and some just don’t, that’s just incidental and does not mean some are better than the others. It just means I was not looking hard enough!

1. Marne se pehle likha suicide note!

Zee News headline to a report about a man who wiped out his family and killed himself: He wrote the suicide note before death! Quite an organized chap, he obviously didn’t leave much work for later, especially after death.

2. Philhaal, Saina 2-1 ki antar se khitaab jeeti hain.

NDTV India anchor breaking the news of Saina Nehwal’s victory: As of now, Saina has won with a 2-1 margin! Yeah, how could she be sure the score line wouldn’t change by the morrow?

3. National pride is “common bond” between Sri Lanka and Pakistan!

That was the headline to a NewsX curtain-raiser for the Sri Lanka-Pakistan t20 final. The story began by saying how Sri Lanka and Pakistan had chartered contrasting paths to the final. Lanka was consistent, Pak was mercurial. Lanka played as a team, Pak depended on individuals. But, when both the teams meet, “national pride” would be the common bond. Did NewsX confuse the Lankan team? Did they play for Pakistan’s national pride by mistake?

4. I am literally standing at the gateway to Lalgarh

CNN-IBN reporter at a wooden bridge that connects Lalgarh to other villages. The Maoists have just damaged this bridge to stop the advance of the security forces. So the reporter says: “I am literally standing at the gateway to Lalgarh. Why are you so unsure if you are standing or not? If you are literally standing, what exactly is that position?

5. Despite ban, Naxalites go on rampage.

That’s Times Now, just a day after the ban on the Maoists. It seemed surprised that the Naxals were reacting to the ban with more violence. It’s almost like the channel expected them to wilt in guilt and wither away in shame now that their activities were declared unlawful. They are Naxalite, you see, not little children forbidden some Diwali excesses. (Papa told you no more crackers, right? Then, why are you still hanging out?)!

6. India is the Global “hotbed” of swine flu.

What’s TV without a bit of exaggeration? Yes, that was Times Now on June 8, way before the WHO pandemic announcement. And how many cases caused this prognosis? Ten in all of the country! With 63 cases by the last count, would that make India the “killing fields of swine flu” now?

7. There’s the magnificent trophy, that’s what they are playing for…

That’s what every commentator on SET Max said every time the camera panned to the IPL trophy. Never before were so many diamonds, gems and so much gold made to look so ugly. In fact, if Anil Kumble had said that the Bangalore Challengers lost the final because they didn’t want to take that trophy home, most of us would have believed him!

8. Anasuya is my name/Sports 24x7 is my game/Liverpool lost…/What a shame!

Hmm…what do I say to this lyrical onslaught on NDTV 24x7? Venkat is the name/Column 1x7 is my game/what a shame…/It’s a pathetic poem!

9. Times Now Exclusive: Dawood brother Anees shot?

One, if it is your exclusive, how come you don’t know whether Anees is shot or not? Two, if you don’t know, why ask me? How do I know? Three, if you are saying it is an exclusive “thought” that occurred only to you, let me tell you, that dream sequence was playing out on 50 other channels simultaneously.

10. And finally…

“And finally…” is the pet phrase for bringing up the last item. And so went our NDTV 24x7 anchor on auto-pilot: “And finally…sarod maestro Ustaad Ali Akbar Khan is dead”. Lady, what’s the reason for such personal relief? Just how long have you been waiting for this legend to die? And why?

(Venkat, as the author is called, thinks the channels are littered with such dumb dumplings. If you have collected your own dumb-list share it with him at padmabv@hotmail.com for future use with credits.)

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