Television for Dummies

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Coming Soon, The End by Omkar Sane, book reviewFour friends who work in television – Grass from a Kids’ Channel, Bass, the girl who handles the music shows, Crass from General Entertainment and Farce who, because he works in news, always has all the gossip, walk into a bar to spend the evening. There, a man called Mass intrigued by their conversation walks over to join them and a new reality show called Television begins.

Omkar Sane’s previous book, Welcome to Advertising, Now Get Lost, kicked off a new train of humorous satire with a lighthearted though sometimes heavy handed dig at advertising. One would have expected Coming Soon. The End to continue in that vein. Expectations notwithstanding, the format is interesting – the book is written in the form of a TV script.

However, unlike advertising where Sane could assume that people at least knew something about it, when it comes to the matter of television, he decides to start at a very grassroots level. His concept is simple – to relate to the anxiety and frustration that plagues most people where the media, most particularly television is concerned while poking fun at it all

His four allegorical characters classify themselves as ‘whores’ as one of the conversations clearly indicates:
Oh, you guys work in television?” the fat man interrupted, waiting for his bill.
“No, we’re whores,” Bass replied.
“Oh, I thought I heard you say Television,” the fat man said apologetically.
“It’s the same thing.”

According to Sane, the general reader really knows nothing about television and the world behind it. Mass, who works in a bank and represents the ordinary viewer, is a man with little or no knowledge about television or even advertising. When he is told that the actress Kareena Kapoor is paid by Airtel to say the things that she does in an ad, he is totally taken aback.

What the book turns out to be is a version of Television for Dummies, with questions and answers that make everything very simple for those who are not quite sure what the media is all about. For example “What is packaging? Answer: God, I never thought I’d meet someone who would ask me that.” Three lines later: “What is a tune-in show? Answer: God. This will never end. One question leads to many more.”

The chapter headings are snappy ones like Anchors Aren’t Anchors – which consist a list of catchphrases used by anchors and just about covers two pages or Cool. Or Uncool. TV’s Like That.

On the whole, Sane’s take of television is a rather dark one, but to be fair to him, Indian television veers from highs to abysmal lows, covering patriarchal soaps which do nothing for the Indian woman, news coverage that is more a circus than anything else and some other strange programmes in between. Films like Peepli Live have been made highlighting the fact that the media is far more interested in TRP ratings than in actually projecting the truth to their audiences. As a result statements like the fact that TV channels only go to the villages to highlight things like farmer suicides can be accepted with a certain amount of sympathy, as can the fact that, according to Sane, the media measures society according to the opinions of the urban glitterati – which is why he says on talk shows celebrities, socialites, film stars and politicians proliferate.

After you’ve read the book, as the Dummies series says, you can turn ‘I can’t’ into ‘I can’ and you will probably understand some of the reasons for why the television industry does what it does.

Coming Soon.The End by Omkar Sane
Published by Tranquebar in India

Buy book online
Buy book online
Coming Soon. The End
by Omkar Sane

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Written by Anjana Basu
Anjana Basu

Anjana Basu works as an advertising consultant in Calcutta. In 2003, Harper Collins India brought out her novel Curses In Ivory. In 2004, she was awarded a Hawthornden Fellowship in Scotland where she worked on her second novel, Black Tongue, published by Roli in 2007. In February 2010. her children's novel Chinku and the Wolfboy was brought out by Roli. She writes features for travel magazines and reviews for Indian newspapers.

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