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Bombay Chanakya’s “T.R.P.”

How real is reality?

Suganthy Krishnamachari

 

A scene from Bombay Chanakya’s TRP, Tamil play

On TV channels and manipulations

Who is the bad guy of the modern world? According to Bombay Chanakya, it is the electronic media, as he argues in Kalamandir’s play ‘TRP’ (for Kartik Fine Arts at the Narada Gana Sabha) concludes that it is the media. Through the story of Janani, he shows the cynical manipulation of the gullible by television channels, which have their eye on the TRP ratings of every programme, because the ratings indicate the money spinning potential of a programme. Reality shows are dangerous charades, designed to exploit the viewers’ desire to have voyeuristic peeps into other people’s lives. Nothing is sacrosanct. Prurience sells.

Tambaram Ratnavel Purushottaman – TRP (Bombay Kumar) – is the villain, but the real brain behind the villainy is Ananya (good performance by Sangeetha). Janani falls prey to the desire for fame and money, and participates in a reality show. Ananya steers the show in such a way that Janani is made to appear as an immoral woman. Unable to bear the humiliation, Janani loses her mental balance. Damayanthi (Dr. Sharmila), a distinguished lawyer takes up the cudgels on her behalf.

The theme is the callousness of the media, but the story itself is wafer thin. Chanakya aims many well-deserved barbs at the media. Damayanthi traces the evolution of television entertainment, early days of DD being the starting point, and the degeneration that has set in.

The absence of a judge on stage in the court scene and Sharmila addressing the audience instead was a nice touch. Meenakshi as Janani portrayed fear, shame and shock so well, that it was hard to believe that this was her stage outing. Baby Ritvika as Bharati, was perfectly at ease on stage.

Why was most of the important dialogue in English? The hard-hitting lines against the procrastination of the Central Government in acting against the corrupt were pertinent. The description of Kapil Sibal as the “Defence Minister” because he is forever defending his party on various television channels was met with a roar of approval from the audience.

The conclusion was that the media is quick to pass judgment on others and anyone who takes up the challenge comes a cropper. The end, however, was rather tame, with a person running up to the stage from the audience and saying that he will no longer watch programmes that are exploitative and dishonest. Can that stop reality shows, and the selective presentation of news? And for want of better options people end up watching programmes that they would rather not. How will we break the vicious cycle? No solutions offered.

 

  1. Prof T.K.Srinivasan
    October 13, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    The play is a bold ‘expose’ of the degeneration of the ‘TV’ & as rightly mentioned.’the callousness of the media”,so how can it be said that the story itself is wafer-thin?In fact
    Innocent Janani’s,suffering so deeply due to a normal endeavour of any housewife in sending an’sms’, out of curiosity– in being chosen to go for the “interviiew’ and the sequel are all part of a strong ‘storyline’ in defence of what Chanakya wants to convey.I agree that some die-hard fans deciding not to see such programmes may not solve the issue,Perhaps
    “A Strong Censoring Committee to screen all TV programmes” may offer a better solution.
    But in this country when the PM’s letter is given the ‘goby’ by a minister & no action is even breathed by the PM, can this also offer a strong solution? Anyway, “kudos” to Chanakya and all the actors of the play for exposing, a very prevalent malady, which is afflicting every household and cries for ‘halt’!

  2. October 14, 2011 at 11:02 am

    At the outset,the play was good.When u have talked so much about TRP,if I am right,u have not mentioned how exactly TRP is collected.Many people think that it is by opinion poll.Not so.It is by a gadget attached to the cable in a house without the knowledge of even the inmate.Your lenghthy dialogue should refer to this to educate the viewer and also make the play complete.I hope u agree with me.I shall be grateful for your reply.Regards
    Dr G.Sundaram.

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