Entertainment in installments,
Best Subject for mockery

For past week there has been lots of discussion going on Entertainment, people preference, etc. So it’s my turn to talk about Entertainment, this time I choose Entertainment in installments, what do I mean by this? Checking the thesaurus you might get a popular matching word – SOAP; NO!, not the XML based data protocol from Microsoft, I am going to talk about the serial killer that visits homes ever day - Drum roll - “Tamil serials”

Recently I spoke to my school day buddy, I was happy to see his business flourish, he owns a big single family home in a posh locality and drives Honda City, and he says “thanks to the television serials”, if you think he is producer or an actor, you are wrong, he is one of the main supplier of Glycerin to the movie/TV industry. Don’t believe me, you are dam correct I made up the story, but the fact in it still remains true, the Glycerin is one most important “must have” prerequisite for any television producer. Often in party’s lady folks are seen busy discussing about their favorite TV “entertainment in installments” AKA soaps. Men usually bump in to spill their esteemed comments before they walk away from the scene. Most men swear that they don’t watch it and treat it like crap. Yes I have also done this quite well.

For most in my neck of the woods, Metti Oli ranks first, followed by may be Anandam. Experts tell me the amount glycerin sales have tripled for past 4 years, this time I did not make it up, this is due to 24/7 weeping heroine in Kolangal. Hope the divine elephant rescues the script soon. Hope you remember the director of this television serial, last year he made fun of a so called American return Tamilan, this character talks Tamil in a very bizarre manner. But if you carefully watch this director talk, he would miss pronounce most Tamil letters and will not hesitate to substitute with few hand made letters at his own comfort. His Tamil sucks quite royally. It is pity that there is no single soul to put it up straight to him. Alright, we hear”Srikanth that’s enough” stop yapping and “for once why don’t you talk about the serials in a positive way”. Ok here it is.

Each episode is carefully planned and laid out by its producers in order to fetch more money. They make sure they break even in the cost, and keeps the story [if any] running. It is a business and they earn by selling the advertisement slots. There are about 10 serials a day ranging from pathetically made the magical my dear Mamiyar oops Bootham to urban life Selvi. Though some of them are “grinded batter”, we need to appreciate the technical efforts that went into these productions. For example Music, though loud in most places music production is sincere, like wise the camera work, editing and few more technical aspects are very sincere. What are the benefits of TV serials? [I promise this question was not asked in this years SSLC exam] Answer: pure entertainment, push advertisements, making money, kill time, increase creativity? You are welcome to guess the answer.

In my opinion, apart from the primary motive of making money, there are good points coming out of them “The quality of production”. I consider these serials to be like county cricket, first the actors, they get to practice over and over again which will eventually raise the quality of acting. Stage dramas helped stalwarts like Nadigar thilagam/Major, using it they established a standard in acting, like wise, these serials over a period of time will create a good community of artists. It will take time but we will be there soon. People will be trained to do every roll. This will serve as an acting school for many.

On the technical side, in some of the episodes I do spot tight camera work with good lighting. We can clearly say that the Director of Photography [DP] and his crew have worked hard, however the quality of the script is so boring, most their effort goes unnoticed or simply it is drowned in the tears of the crying heroine. Coming back to Music, the title songs are really clean in most serials. Especially in the morning shows. The success here is repeating the same thing about 5 times a week, anything that is repeated is bound to be remembered. More than the title song, the music director who scores the backgrounds works really hard; I do hear many good sequences that are worth a mention. But just like the camera work, this also goes unnoticed why? Once again Thanks to the passed out stale script. The directors need to run the story for 5 years, he/she over kills anything in the teleplay. For example for a normal person to walk down the stairs it takes about 30 seconds but in a serial the director makes sure they waste about 2 minutes of music before the character actually walks down.

In my opinion I feel there is no point for a title song with group dance every day. There is a difference between cinema and TV, What? You might ask, if you want to do a song like in a movie, the efforts are totally different. TV group dances due their budget constraints end up as Saturday night live comic. The “ammii ammii “dance [metti oli] in particular, in first place the story seems to be very serious and over the period it has changed so much that there is no meaning for the title song and its ridiculous dance. Take “Sukanya” she is portrayed as a mid aged lady in “anandam” but she is seen dancing in full swing in title, does that match the script?, just for having a dance some where in the title, directors force themselves to have one , and that too showing this daily is a punishment [for the TV].

In a 30 minute program clock, the first 30 seconds – laundry list of all the sponsors, read by someone who would eventually end up in asthma. Next 5-7 minutes - the same Title song with a group dance. [Some serials show previous day’s clip for and waste about extra 2 minutes] ; Scene One – 5 – minutes ; Commercials for 3 minute ; Scene two – 5 minutes ; Commercials for 3 minute ; Scene 3 – 3 minutes; Scene 3a- a dramatic still pose for 30 seconds. Finally - 50 seconds to the read the laundry of sponsor once again. Directors! Don’t you have any creativity?

To conclude, there are areas that these television serials help improve. But there is one major area that is going to degrade everything over period of time. The script writers/the directors/ the creative heads [Yes we have lots of new designations] will lose their ability to think genuine screen [Tele] play. Often they are forced to slow down the story at snail pace. Thanks to the stupid life span of the serials, “Entertainment in Installments”. Everyone is forced to see things at slower pace. Just to keep the show running even a well planned show gets compromised. The directors adopt stupid and silly methods just to complete the dam assignment, result - our Television serials are the best subject for mockery. Do we blame the audience here? Actually we can’t, TV is a forced medium that reaches people hence they don’t have any other choice other than to watch, even if it is a crap. Most watch it, many like it, love it, enjoy it,some hate it, preferences are different, I cannot question them, however I have the right to feel that it is the responsibility of the directors/the script writer/creative heads to use this medium properly. The crude truth in my opinion - "As of today the enormous medium of Tamil satellite television is right royally screwed up".