The Tribune - Spectrum

Sunday, May 13, 2001

It’s guiles & wiles all the way

EVER imagined the possibilities of an Indian political backdrop for the British serial Yes Minister? You don’t have to go far. Just plug into Star Plus on Thursday at 9.30 pm. Ji Mantriji is a satirical look at India’s colourful political canvas and bizarre characters.

Shaikh, Kaul and Kriplani in Ji Mantriji: Survival of the fittestFarooque Shaikh plays Surya Prakash Singh, a newly appointed minister, who is determined to make his mark by changing things around him. He may have had his way, but his secretary is determined to puncture all his efforts at change, as change for the Indian bureaucrat is anathema that jeopardises many of his privileges.

Rajnath Mathur, the secretary, played by Jayant Kripalani, is a seasoned, senior bureaucrat. He is both devious and charming as also a master manipulator. He has a condescending attitude to dirty politics, though he is not above playing a few dirty tricks himself ! He hates change as his years in the civil service have made him a champion of "masterly inactivity". A bureaucrat who thrives by completely confusing people around him.

Kaul, the minister’s private secretary is torn between loyalty to the bureaucrat and to the minister. Earnest and slightly nervous, he is relatively junior in the hierarchy, and is learning the tricks of the trade. The three run rings around each other, two steps forward and one step back, achieving a sum total of nothing.

Though the concept is almost the same as Yes Minister, what makes Ji Mantriji different is how it has been adapted to the Indian political scenario, making each episode both contemporary and hilarious.

A suspense serial on a lavish scale
May 6, 2001
Engaging, though fanciful, serial
April 29, 2001
Power struggle in the world of glamour
April 22, 2001
Something to smile about
April 15, 2001
The mainstay of Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki
April 1, 2001
The goddess from Bengal
March 25, 2001

In search of greener pastures abroad
March 18, 2001

Another soap about trials of family life
March 4, 2001

The fine art of murder
February 25, 2001

A predictable but absorbing tale
February 18, 2001

The longest-running comedy is a winner
February 11, 2001
Woman power to the fore
February 4, 2001
Another run-of-the-mill serial
January 28,2001
An engrossing tale of relationships
January 21,2001
A familiar, predictable family drama
January 14,2001

Life’s like that!

She’s young, she’s mild-mannered, she’s sweet. Her parents love her as much as she loves them. Meet Kusum every Tuesday at 9 pm on Sony Entertainment Television. She could be your sister, your friend or just that nice girl who lives next door.

Kusum: Middle-class aspirationsAnd if you could see beyond her simple sweetness, if you would look closely enough, you would perhaps notice how, sometimes, her eyelids droop beneath the pressures of her middle-class working girl existence. How worry clouds her sweet face.

Nevertheless, Kusum smiles bravely on. Struggling to fulfil the the role of a daughter, a sister and a working girl. Even as she winces at the wild-eyed crowd that hurtles past her in the mad rat race every day, she struggles to keep pace with it.

Dreams? Sure, she would dream if she could. But she can’t, as she just doesn’t have the time. All she hopes for is very normal life. She doesn’t want a millionaire prince charming. She just hopes for a simple husband who loves her. She wants her parents to be happy and her brothers and sisters to get educated.

Simple hopes, wouldn’t you say? Ones that life wouldn’t grudge anybody, least of all the sweet, dutiful, hardworking Kusum. Right? Wrong! Life has something completely different in store for her! A serial which will touch the heart of every struggling middle class family.

The Mahatma revisited

There have been countless stage plays, documentaries, TV serials, Hindi films and even a Hollywood blockbuster. Yet, Mahatma Gandhi never fails to inspire writers, directors, actors and viewers.

Meri Kahani: A great tale retoldMeri Kahani on Doordarshan every Sunday at 10.30 am is yet another attempt to unfold the life of the Father of the Nation. The serial attempts to unravel the Mahatma behind Gandhi.

The serial is presented in the format of a narrator (sutradhar), who is Gandhiji himself. Since he stopped writing about his life after 1921, the serial takes the help, of Louis Fischer’s authoritative book, The life of Mahatma Gandhi which is a complete story of his life till January 30, 1948.

It starts in 1921, with a fade-in of Gandhiji writing his autobiography. His voice overlaps his images and the serial cuts back and forth to heighten the drama. To make the situations more realistic, most of the events have been shot in real locations and important historical events are all taken from the old stocks of the Films Division.

Though not on the scale of Shyam Benegal’s Making of Mahatma, this new serial does have its strong points as it uses excellent techniques to highlight the important phases in the life of Gandhiji.

Death of a dream

Nothing can be more hurtful than being betrayed by a loved one. That’s what Sanskruti on Mondays at 1.30 pm on Star Plus is all about. It explores the relationships in a family where the foundation of marriage gets irrevocably shaken after the death of one partner.

Sanskruti: No terms of endearmentKrishnakant, a middle-aged, successful businessman who owns a chain of hotels in Delhi, Mumbai and Dehra Dun is an ideal family man, a doting father and loving husband of Rukmani. Everyone looks upon him with great respect.

But misfortune strikes as Krishnakant dies suddenly, leaving a trail of undiscovered truths for his family. The tragedy is followed by crisis when a woman walks in with her three children claiming to be Krishnakant’s second wife for many years.

However, what further complicates the situation is Krishnakant’s will which states that after his death the two women would have to stay together under the same roof as one family.

Will Rukmani ever be able to forgive her husband’s betrayal? Will she and her children accept the other woman and her kids? Will there be a change, an evolution in the thinking of the two women Krishnakant had so dearly loved in his lifetime?

Sanskruti is about a man-woman relationship in marriage, their trust, loyalty, pain and disillusionment. And a will that makes little sense. A gripping serial that should go down well with the viewers.

Nothing dumb about them

Elusive, cunning, strategic and resourceful — animals have amazed humans from time immemorial with their range of survival tactics. Through centuries of evolution and inherited instinct, polar bears, lions, orangutans and others have guaranteed the future existence of their species by using their brains as well as their brawn.

Animal Intelligence — The Thinkers: Amazing survival tacticsAnimal Intelligence — The Thinkers on Animal Planet, May 26, from 6 pm to 9 pm shows viewers that animals are more than just creatures of instinct — they are intellectuals. The first part reveals how the carnivorous kingfishers have managed to adopt to life on every continent except Antarctica.

The second part illustrates Charles Darwin’s evolutionary theory of survival of th fittest by comparing wildlife footage from the 1950s to the animal population of today. Viewers find out which species diminished and disappeared, as well as which ones adapted and thrived and learn their amazing secrets of survival.

The show concludes with a revealing look at how modern-day zoos are keeping animals intrigued and engaged with activities that help them maintain their wild instincts. A place where they learn to exhibit their wits and interact with humans.

For lovers of wildlife, Animal Intelligence — The Thinkers is a fascinating peep into the minds of creatures we mistakenly call dumb.

Getting funnier

Here’s more fun and masti for kids during their summer vacation. Toon Tamasha, Cartoon Network’s trilingual series available in English, Hindi and Tamil has shed its old image and emerged with new goodies in store for all.

Scooby Doo: All-new series on Cartoon NetworkJoining the team of Scooby & Scrappy Doo, The Mask, Addams family and The Flintstones are Dexter’s Laboratory, The New Scooby Doo Mysteries and The New Scooby & Scrappy Doo show.

The new series can now be seen on Fridays from 10 pm to 11 am and 5 pm to 6 pm and weekends from 9 am to 10 am and 5 pm to 6 pm. Together they promise to add more thrill and excitement.

Viewers are invited to join the mystery-solving mayhem with Scooby-Doo, Scrappy-Doo and their teenaged gang. Viewers also get to witness the intriguing lifestyle of the modern Stone Age family, The Flintstones. The faithful followers of Einstein can share the excitement of inventions and discoveries with the network’s boy genius, Dexter, in Dexter’s Laboratory. And the the scene gets a whole lot crazier with the wacky adventures of The Mask and the wonderfully weird Addam’s Family. So, kids hang on to your seats.

Mukesh Khosla

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