TV goof ups

Smw Cartoon for Pinterest

Come winter, there would be ever so many  music and dance programs arranged in different venues. Some of them are telecast live on Doordarshan channels. Out of these, the music and dance festivals in Odisha are my favourites. These festivals, soaked in culture as they are, provide good dose of entertainment enough to last the rest of the year.

There is a certain pattern to the conduct of these festivals. There will always be two announcers- one to introduce the chief guests and artists and compere the program in Odiya language and the other to do so in Hindi and English. In fact, these announcements take away quite a chunk from the main program time.

This time in the Rajrani music festival conducted in the premises of Rajrani temple, the person chosen for Hindi and English was a seasoned announcer from DD and the one to do in Odiya was an academic obviously not acquainted with the TV procedure. The announcements in Odiya always preceded those in Hindi an English. But the portly, bespectacled academic would never know when the camera was on her; she would be looking here and there at the audience and the other announcer had to goad and prod her with her elbow and gesture with her hand to look at the camera and start talking which the lady academic would do with a blink and a jerk. It was hilarious to watch it on all the 3 days.

These gestures and movements when done in the programs recorded earlier in studios can always be edited and later shown with smooth beginnings. But an outdoor live program is nothing if not a charade as every single gesture is very obviously seen by the viewers.

In fact, in some live shows conducted in TV studios, it is pretty funny to watch the untutored artist nodding his/her head to the videographer’s cue, sometimes even making the typically Indian multidimensional movement of the head to convey to the cameraman that he/she had totally comprehended his signal.

When Bangalore DD was new, we could see the camera focusing on the non- speaking characters in interviews and plays while the audio would be from someone else who would be grudgingly missing seconds of their precious visual exposure.

This reminds me how the crowd scene in our teleplay ‘Choma’ was shot with a single camera in 80’s. We all had been asked to mention some dummy word before our ‘one-liners’, so that the cameraman would have time to turn the camera towards the speaking person and catch the   sentence from the beginning. Later, the dummy word would be edited making the presentation fluid.

It is really a pleasure to watch the present- day anchors and announcers responding spontaneously to the camera, something which they must have acquired after a lot of practice.

cartoon courtesy pinterest.


The Odissi Dance I Saw


DD Bharti (National TV channel for cultural items) is always known to telecast classy programs. One of the items I best like to watch is the direct live telecast of Indian classical dance festivals held in Khajuraho, Bhubaneswar and other places in Madhya Pradesh and Orissa.

The dances are mostly Odissi with items of Kathak, Kuchipudi and Bharathnatyam on some days. The settings are beautiful with the programs held on open air stages with the famed temples in the background. The timing being 6 in the evening onwards is just perfect. The stage lighting is very aesthetic and efficient. The colour filters, the strobe, the dimmer –all work without a hitch and are no distraction from the presented performances. The background music artists are introduced by the emcee (MC) with spotlights trained on them in the dark. They carry on the rest of the time with a flash- light trained on the sheet containing the lyrics.

The audience is an interested, culturally aware, and well behaved one with a few foreign faces here and there.

The stages are wide enough to accommodate a number of artistes and the dance dramas are well choreographed with many young artists with slim figures undulating gracefully.

The only snag is when the organizers want to honor senior artistes by allowing them to perform on the stage. Arts like music, literature and painting appeal to the connoisseurs irrespective of the age and fitness of the artists. But a performing art like Indian classical dance is one where there ought to be an age limit. I know that artists as they age and mature acquire a great degree of knowledge, skill and depth in their art; but they forget that their presentation has to appeal to the audience. Their bodies may not be able to cope with different nuances of their art which is pre-eminently visual in nature. As a result most of the senior artists make their performances a long saga of Abhinayam (mime)  with hardly any footwork which any expressive face, say that of  an actor can project and emote.

With due apologies to senior dance artists, I must say that I am not asking them not to dance. But let them do it in privacy. While concert goers prefer to avail of season passes, the organizers should not cheat them by introducing a geriatric element and force them to watch.

The particular dance I witnessed (Of course I could have switched off the TV and saved myself from the torture. But then I would not have got this blogJ) was of Radha and Krishna. The lady artiste playing Radha was quite old. At least her body was. Her face had been heavily painted to cover the wrinkles (very obvious in close-ups). Dewlaps of loose flesh were hanging from her arms and they quivered with every movement of her arms distracting one totally from the dance. Her dance movements gesticulating full breasts were pathetic to say the least. Though Odissi is a dance of tribhangi with head, thorax and hips moving independently, the poor lady’s body was a single solid mass not registering any individual body movements or swayings (And this in Khajuraho which is known for wall carvings of shapely damsels).