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Guest Column <br>Newsmanic: Rakhi Sawant and the torture of toddlers, Imagine!

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Guest Column <br>Newsmanic:  Rakhi Sawant and the torture of toddlers, Imagine!

Not long ago, NDTV Imagine helped Rakhi Sawant find a suitable boy. They said she would marry him, but that was scaled down to an engagement which took place on screen, but left many in doubt if even that was just make-believe.

Imagine has now decided that while Rakhi’s marriage can wait, she needs urgent training in minding babies and has devised the show ‘Pati, Patni aur Woh’.

The ‘Woh’ in this case is not another desi beau who has caught NRI Elesh’s fancy, but an unfortunate toddler whose parents have left him in Rakhi’s care for a few days. Yes, Imagine is readying Rakhi for motherhood and since she can’t have babies without whatever-whatever (Rakhi might be TV Goddess, but she is incapable of divine conception), the channel has borrowed a baby from a couple who seemed to have taken leave of their senses.

Many viewers are madly angry at the stupidity of the parents in lending their baby to further Rakhi’s TV career, Imagine’s GRPs and a few extra bucks in their banks (I’m just Imagining they are paid, too, but maybe they are not and maybe they are more stupid than we think and are doing it for free and a few days of fame).

But angry viewers is good for Imagine, because it means they are watching the show and will continue to watch, and that means Sameer Nair will sweat a little less under his hot collar.

I have two points to raise about this show. One is a worry, the other a question. Let’s say, by the end of the show, thanks to Imagine, Rakhi is a well-trained mom (for now the poor little kid is having a horrible time away from his real mother who is watching him and shedding copious paid tears to add her two bits to the choreographed drama). Then, will Imagine devise another televised training session in life for Rakhi? And then another and then another… That will be quite a pain.

I am aware that I have been talking only about Rakhi. I know there are four other half-celebs and five other unfortunate babies, including a set of twins on the show. I have omitted the other celebs from the discussion, not out of ignorance, but out of conviction that they are only incidental to the show. Rakhi is the star and Rakhi it is who will give Imagine what Sameer Nair wants. The format of the show is not clear yet, but I can take a bet that Rakhi will be in the show till the last frame.

The question I have is this: Why is there no noise on this torture of the toddlers? Where are all those people who screamed blue murder at ‘Balika Vadhu’ and ‘Sach ka Saamna’? I hate to invite the attention and ire of the Establishment in matters of content, but who will stop such brutality on six babies by a channel starved of GRPs and a TV star, who makes a feast of national prime time? And who will save the babies from their own parents, obviously blinded by fame or money or both?

The problem with nuisance-makers is that they are not around when they actually have some work to do. ‘Pati, Patni aur Woh’ would have meant gainful employment for them, because God knows the babies need to be rescued. We won’t know the trauma this separation is causing the kids because they can’t articulate their emotions other than to cry endlessly, but even a pop-psychologist will tell us this can leave permanent scars on the babies’ minds.

As I write this, the baby with Rakhi has been crying his heart out for hours and Rakhi is distraught. The baby’s real mother enters the house and the baby is instantly at peace. The real mother gives Rakhi a few tips and says: “Just read the manual I have given you. Everything is written there on how to look after him.” Motherhood by manual. Dumb.

Now Imagine the trauma when the real mother disappears again and dumps him once again in strange surroundings and with strange people. Criminal negligence of parenting. Crazy.

The channel’s defence is that the real parents are always at hand to take care of the babies if things go out of control. If that is true, the show is a hoax because the full-page advertisements on the opening day claimed that the screen parents have no help at all, not even a maid.

But if NDTV Imagine can go a few points up in the GRPs who cares if six infants are traumatised? One answer seals all debate around content in India these days: The viewers love it. Suckers.

Good ones: Spotted some good shows on CNN-IBN. The first one on 50 years of Doordarshan was a well-choreographed dance down memory lane. Anubha Bhonsle strung the show very well as the lead reporter. The second was on the 80th birthday of Lata Mangeshkar. Javed Akhtar interviewed her in the presence of a studio audience. Though Javed’s interview did not rise to the heights it could have, the show was worth it because Lata in a studio is a big catch. Another big catch for CNN-IBN was to get P Chidambaram in the studio for a long interview. It’s been a long time since we have seen a Home Minister in the studios.

(The views expressed here are of the writer’s and not those of the editors and publisher of


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