By Malangba Bangormayum
Around 6.30 p.m., there is a tussle for the remote, most days of the week. My son, mother and father have their favourite programmes around that time. I somehow, entice the first one to the lap-top. My mother concedes to my father’s 20 minutes of religious talk on T.V. But, the uneasy truce can be felt. The hold that T.V. has on us is amazing. A popular group sang describing this hold, with the words “even better than the real thing”. The irony is that the song, which is supposed to be an expression of T.V.’s hold on us, had to be through M.T.V. Maybe it is more than an irony; it perhaps speaks of a tragic situation.
Do I have had enough of these superstars selling from two minute noodles to dreams to be a crorepati? My son calls out the names of these stars by name while he does not know the name of his cousin or his uncle.
Everyone wants fame. It sounds true to me. Everyone wants to be known. That desire, if some analysis could be tolerated, seems to be connected to the phenomenon of star worship. I have seen some extreme forms. I spent some time in the southern part of India. There was this grocery shop where we used to get our monthly stock of rice. Somehow it had good rice at a reasonable price. During Diwali, I once noticed that amongst the gods and goddesses worshipped with ardour amidst the throbbing multi-coloured lights, there was this photograph of a very famous southern star. He has been instituted in the pantheon on this auspicious day. It was partly amusing, partly revolting. The latter emotion I wish I did not have but I could not help not having it.
I was sickly then. A chronic case of pharyngitis had me pop antibiotics on a regular basis. The doctor advised that I should gain some weight. Imagine, now I am overweight and trying everything in the book to shed some flab.I joined a gym to pump some weight in the hope that I would gain some weight and a better immunity. One day, I saw from the corner of my eyes that people were hanging from the windows, the parapet,and the balcony resembling some variety of fruits, over-ripe, and ready to shed its load at the slightest breeze.This sudden mushrooming of people of all ages on the surrounding concrete constructionswas, I found out later, the presence of two superstars, who were on some promotion event.They had to choose this particular gym to work out! I worked out in the same room as these demi-gods. The problem was that the gym owners locked us in. There was danger of a stampede happening. You see, why I have this thing about superstars. I wanted to go home and all because of these two superstars, I could not go home. Maybe because of that incident, or maybe because I was not gaining any muscles, I discontinued my affair with weights, gyms and sweat.
One of those two superstars, the shorter one is known by my son. He calls out his name whenever he is seen on T.V. I love the antics of my son. But sometimes, the fondness that he shows generates some negative emotions. Am I feeling jealous here?These people do not seem to age. This chap looks the same as I had seen from close quarters two decades ago. Recently, I have noticed a profusion of grey hairs – on me.
Thinking about development, progress and such related notions, I once came to the idea that perhaps choice or the availability of choice hasto play a role in these notions. Development I thought was all about the availability of choices. A place where you have the choice amongst hospitals, amongst ambulances, amongst universities is a better place than a place where options are limited or there are no options at all. I had not thought about options regarding some other things: which superstar to vote for, which NGO to approach when you have trouble. My theorisation needs drastic revision in the face of unlimited options that we have, which we wish we did not have.
One such opening of options is the choice between the program with the superstar host that also sells two minute noodles… should I be watching the one who sells jasmine scented detergent… or should I switch on to the one who sells the comfort of a particular brand of men’s underwear…the possibilities are endless. It is an embarrassment of choices. Or is this feeling of the availability of choice just an illusion? I am beginning to think that this may be the case. The choice between a two minute noodle seller and a potato chip seller is no choice at all. A better choice is to turn off the T.V. I opt for this route.