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 Linguistic Bias

Recently there was an item in the newspapers that some of the ex-American employees of a well known Indian IT firm wanted to sue the company for linguistic bias. They complained that they had been sidelined as they did not know Hindi. They alleged that their colleagues (and probably their bosses too) would carry on in Hindi, a language they did not know, putting them at a total disadvantage.
This news item really tickled me to no end. This IT bellwether company is basically a South Indian company though with employees from all over the country and World. I can understand English being the common language of communication amongst them. But Hindi? If it has dominated their conversations, probably it is because Hindi speaking people assume that everyone knows or should know Hindi and should be able to take part in their chat sessions.
In fact, declaration of Hindi as the national language has never been totally accepted south of Vindhyas. Left to Hindi movies and songs, this part of India would perhaps have taken to Hindi spontaneously, but Imposition has always been resisted.
Well, if Hindi speaking people assume that everyone knows or at least understands their language, the people in the rest of the country assume that no one knows their language and that is where the fun lies. They assume total ignorance on the part of the other party and tend to carry on comments about strangers in the firm conviction that they are safe. For example, in one of the border road units I believe two ladies were making caustic remarks in Tamil about a Sikh gentleman who was standing close to them while watching a badminton match. What would have been the reaction of those ladies if they had known that the said gentleman had done all his schooling and college in Tamilnadu and could understand every word of what they were saying!
Once we travelled from North to South India in a 2-tier sleeper coach by train. Our co-passengers were a Tamil couple. Even as the train started, they tried to release the sleeper plank and spread their beds on it though it was broad daylight. My husband opposed it vehemently as it was creating acute discomfort to us in the opposite berth. He even pointed to the rules that the sleeper planks should be used only between 9pm and 5 am.
Looking at his smart military moustache, his tight T shirt through which his muscles were rippling and his use of English language (obviously a language in which they were perhaps not well conversant) the couple reluctantly conceded with very little grace. As they settled down into their sitting positions, they commented between themselves in Tamil, “Looks like a Malayali, See how aggressive he is, behaving as if the train is his father’s property “etc. We just smiled and kept up the pretence.
When the train stopped at Madras central station, we let forth a torrent of Tamil just before we parted company from our co-passengers, leaving them open mouthed and aghast.
By Vimala Ramu