Saturday, April 08, 2006

500 Television Channels

I have vague recollections of my earlier years of the entire locality descending on our drawing room every Sunday morning without fail. No, my father didn’t run a weekly panchayat a la Sarkar or Godfather, and neither did our neighbor’s love for us sprung in such coordinated weekly basis. It was actually Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayana aired on television (read Doordarshan) which played the role of Kama’s bow (his bow was made of sugarcane and the bowstring of bees). During that time ours was the only house to have a television, or perhaps a color television, and so that explains this odd social behavior. Those were the days when I just couldn’t figure out why the remote control had buttons for eight channels, whereas there was just on television, Doordarshan.

Along came Rupert Murdoch and his cable television revolution in the early 1990s and watching television was never the same again. Channles multiplied faster than my friend’s pet rabbits. And the users became spoilt for choices of programs. Mind you all this was even before eKta Kapoor (wrong capitalization intentional, please overlook) and her K-revolution overtook the Indian television industry. Anyway coming back to the numbers game, it suddenly became a fad to have a television with more channels than your next door neighbor or the one next to this one. For quite some time 20-30 channels was the norm and the friends staying in some fancy area in New Delhi come over and use the most condescending tone to tell us how difficult life is without 43 channels.

Cut to circa 2006, and the remote control makers have given up the impossible war against the television channels. They have stopped putting in further efforts of inserting a zillion buttons on those 8 inches by 3 inches life-controls. They have instead put in things like, +10, +100, single digit/double digit/triple digit etc making watching television a mathematically challenging experience. 500 television channels is still not exactly a reality but it’s so much ‘almost there’ that we won’t even notice when we start getting a new channel on pressing the ‘next’ button while watching channel no. 499.

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