Punjabi antenna
Focus on sacrifice and freedom
Randeep Wadehra

Randeep WadehraLast fortnight, Punjabi television offered an interesting mix of programmes. Not surprising, really, as it had been an eventful fortnight. The protests against CWG shenanigans reached a crescendo, matching the cloudburst over Leh in decibel levels, although the latter proved to be far more tragic in terms of human lives lost. This was also the fortnight when Independence Day was observed, with our Prime Minister reaching out to the violence-stricken Kashmir. Since the rains have been unusually bountiful, there were some unusual TV shows, too.

On August 14, PTC news telecasted Kavi Darbar – a poetry recitation programme, the star performer being Surjit Patar. The same night, viewers were regaled by singer Satinder Sartaj’s renderings at Attari; the show was billed as a token of Indo-Pak friendship. Optimism is one thing we are never short of! Not to be left behind, Zee Punjabi’s anchors, draped in Tricolours, mouthed patriotic platitudes.

On August 15 morning, there were the usual speeches by the Punjab Chief Minister on DD Punjabi and PTC News. Zee Punjabi’s Sohani Saver hosted noted singer Sardool Sikander, who gave his views on what patriotism actually is – a minor faux pas was committed by the singer, he kept on referring to the Sohani Saver show as Sajjri Saver, which is actually the name of a DD Punjabi show.

Then there were news items of ordinary Punjabis, expressing their patriotic sentiments in different ways; there was this man wearing a tricoloured turban going from place to place on his bicycle to spread the nationalist message.

Patriotism was a hot topic on Zee Punjabi’s special, Salaam Hindustan. Punjabi youngsters talked of different aspects of patriotism, including the sacrifices made by various freedom fighters. Punjab Speaks, on PTC News, too, recalled the Kuka rebellion and the subsequent 1857 War of Independence, as well as bravery of Udham Singh, Bhagat Singh etc.

More urgent issues were discussed on Khabarsaar and Masle on August 16. While the former talked of various types of freedom that should be available to the common man, the latter focussed on the current flare-up in Kashmir. It is not just the domination of the foreign power that our freedom fighters were struggling to do away with. Freedom from the colonial mindset, fear, want, too, was cherished. The panellists on Khabarsaar lamented that even after 63 years of independence, the economic and social disparities have been on the increase.

While Dr Akshay Kumar felt that people should be more patient while waiting for things to improve, Bir Devinder Singh hinted darkly at the situation worsening in the country if one goes by the rising violence in the society – be it Naxalites or the Kashmiri separatists. Although, governance was not brought directly under the scanner, the message got through. Similarly, in Masle, the panellists enumerated various gaffes committed by our politico-bureaucratic set-up while handling the situation in Kashmir. Many an opportunity to resolve the problem once and for all was missed, the panellists rued.

Monsoons continued to be celebrated on the small screen with news snippets of Teeyan celebrations in various girls’ colleges in the region. But the most memorable show was Pindan Vichchon Pind, wherein the Wadali brothers featured. Their Sufi Kalaam was sublime, as usual, and so were the classical renderings. However, it was good to see the two brothers – Pooran Chand and Pyare Lal – scotching the rumours of their break-up as singing team. No matter how good the former is, Pyare Lal’s supporting role is vital to taking his singing quality several notches above the ordinary.

DD Punjabi’s Sur Punjabi, too, featured a Sufi singer, Sanawarjit, who is young and talented. His rendering of Bulle Shah’s composition was fairly good. It would be interesting to see how this singer develops in the coming years.