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    Indian season on Channel Four

    by Rumbold on 14th January, 2010 at 5:22 pm    

    Channel Four’s ‘Indian season’ has come into for plently of criticism, as Sunny and others have pointed out the focus on the Mumbai slums. This does seem to be excessive, and does smack to a certain extent of ‘poverty porn’. It clearly does not show the whole of India.

    Yet could an ‘Indian season’ ever be created which is representative of India as a whole? Take Britain, a country with around 6% of India’s population. Could a ‘British season’ be made which reflects Britain? Would it involve binge drinking and chips, the X-Factor and Facebook, the Queen and Churchill? There are always going to be problems with trying to do such a series, as choices will inevitably involve some sort of stereotyping, or else be so eclectic as to not be representative at all. Channel Four made mistakes by focusing too much on slums, and in the way it advertised the series (with stereotypical Indian images), but it never would have been perfect.

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    Filed in: India, Media

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    1. lfc4life — on 14th January, 2010 at 7:23 pm  

      channel 4 are always doing seasons be it horror, gay, indian etc and all of them come under some kind of criticism for not including this bit or that so c4 are in a kind of no win situation!

    2. AdamR — on 14th January, 2010 at 9:11 pm  

      I spent the summer in India, living with a local family for a significant part of it. I was based in Delhi for a week and then Mumbai for the rest of my time there, leaving the cities to visit the surrounding region. It is truly an amazing and beuatiful country, with fantastic people and a dynamism I wish was replicated here.

      I think the India season on 4 is a great oppurtunity to showcase the new India, but I do agree that it is somewhat overreliant on the image of Dharavi and the Mumbai slums.

      Having been there though, I can see why this image is so often put at the forefront of western coverage. It is somewhat representative of India as a whole, as a nation of great contrasts. These are everywhere, from the fact that the biggest slum in asia, filled with poverty, is home to a massive amount of SMEs (small & medium enterprises), and has a huge estimated economic output, providing leathers, crockery and pots/pans for much of the Greater Mumbai area. There are also the more obvious contrasts within Mumbai as a whole, such as between the old, largely Colonial areas of Colaba against the huge skyscrapers of Nariman Point and Worli. The old Haji Ali and Mahalaxmi Mandir surrounded by huge Billboards advertising everything for sale. The great diversity and tolerance of the city that wants to open India to the world versus the confrontational nationalism of groups like the Shiv Sena, who hold much support over poor areas of Mumbai.

      With these contrasts, and all the recent attention garnered by films such as Slumdog Millionare, it is more understandable why Mumbai is attracting the attention, though it can obscure the wider view of India somethimes.

    3. damon — on 15th January, 2010 at 4:32 am  

      I think it would be difficult to satisfy everyone in an Indian Season of TV programmes.
      Focus too much on poverty and the inequality and you’ll upset some of those in the urban elite who resent foreign criticism. When I was in India though, I took a dislike to the culture of the consuming middle classes (who think it’s perfectly normal to have maids and drivers), and who separate themselves away in their air conditioned ”VIP” train carriages.

      Take a train journey across India (from say Dehli to Calcutta) and you’ll see more than you need, to have some informed view of what India is acutally like.

      I’m sure some people didn’t like Mark Tully’s book ”No Full Stops in India”, but I found reading it most illuminating when I was there.

      I find that focussing on the modernity of a country like India a bit vulgar, in the same way that those TV ads for the coming World Cup which gush about how great it’s going to be in the ”rainbow nation” in june are fake and smack of corporatism. (When most ordinary South Africans will not be able to afford the tickets.)

    4. Kulvinder — on 15th January, 2010 at 9:53 am  

      To be frank theres some who probably have such a thin skin and are so overly bombastic about india that any programme that didn’t spend every second highlighting india would be derided as ignorant/racist/simplistic in outlook etc.

      ‘capturing’ a country in a series of documentries is incredibly difficult as a nation is an artificial construct and attempting to ‘tie in’ and understand millions of people is something sociologists and anthropologists having been trying to understand for as long as those fields have existed.

      Personally i prefer to watch anything that just focuses in on one city/community and attempts to tell a story of the lives of those small group of people rather than a rag-tag of different programmes.

      Alternatively you find something that metaphorically of literally criss-crosses a state and tell the story of people you encounter - which is why ‘railway journey’ type programmes make such good tv.

      So all in all i don’t think Ch4 did a brilliant job, but i don’t think its that bad that it needs to be huffed about.

    5. AngryAzn — on 15th January, 2010 at 1:48 pm  

      Stop creating excuses

      Dumb gora asshole.


      Your stupid views aren’t needed either. When will dumb goras stop butting in?

    6. damon — on 15th January, 2010 at 2:24 pm  

      ‘Gora’ AngryAzn? That’s like ‘farang’ isn’t it?
      I heard a woman worker at my hotel call out to another Thai woman the other day as I was checking out, something about a farang
      I guessed it was something like ”The farang is checking out now”.
      It amuses me to pick out that word out of a language I don’t understand.

      Because I’m one of those things (like a gora in Asia) does that mean what I see around me every day is invalidated?

      But I agree that India as a whole is very complex and so different in different places. The smaller countries of south east asia, while complex in their own individual ways, seem easier to understand.

    7. Kulvinder — on 15th January, 2010 at 8:16 pm  

      Dumb gora asshole

      Tenu punjabi sumaj andhi? Kyanuki menun lagdha tera shakl cheeta hai. Apne bandhe apne apha nu azn nee blandhe; lekhan menu ki patha!?

      Jai tenu samajh andhi, te tusin menu naal we takleef hai; chup kar kuthi, agg kyun lagi? Khoi Kharab gal ne khaiah. Machaud.

      Regardless noone said anything ’stupid’ and you’re the arsehole if you can’t put together an argument to support your opinions.

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