My mother likes television serials – what you might call Tamil Telenovelas. She is not that far-gone yet that she plans her day and life around their schedules but she likes to watch them. My tiny nuclear family does not own a TV – we do watch stuff on our laptops but we neither have cable nor have a satellite connection. So when my mother visited us, I tried to find her favourite telenovelas on the internet. I found them. And realized what a terrible thing I have done. I got a glimpse of this parallel universe which is so mind-boggling that any neuron that was still alive in my brain just gave up and died. So you wonder how come I am still alive and writing here? I was reborn – my husband made me watch some of the classics from our list like ‘Usual Suspects’ and ‘Battlestar Galactica‘ to resuscitate my brain.
I thought I shall share this harrowing experience with you and warn you one-and-all to keep away from telenovelas in India – it takes a special kind of strength to survive them. My mother has that kind of strength, I do not. I am really not a discerning kind – far from it- I love all kinds of movies and TV series. I have even sat through Teletubbies, once. But the telenovelas defy any categorization. They all seem to have the same kind of people in them (perhaps they are all the same people, I could not tell in the short time I died) – there is either a dominant evil mother-in-law or a sweet naive mother-in-law, then there is her opponent daughter-in-law, there is a father-in-law who is there to bulk out the no. of characters, a son who may or may not play an important role. Then there are usually some other sundry in-laws and friends who may or may not be good/evil. The real hero of the story of course is the camera that zooms in and out and the musician who can only do one note that goes up in crescendo and then decrescendo.
I do not know if there is a special class for all TV-serials cameramen where they are taught, that only way to dramatize a scene is to use the close-up shot of all the characters that are in the scene. And sometimes the cameraman shows initiative and pans from left-to-right, then right-to-left. Throughout this scene where the camera is being artistic, the characters all stand either in a line or in a semi-circle (depending on the set size) with some of them wringing their hands with wide-eyes (usually the good guys) or biting their teeth and wide-eyes (usually the bad guys).
What is the musician up to, you ask? Well, if the camera is doing close-ups and then zooms out, music goes dynamic and then goes down again abruptly. But if the camera is panning, then music builds up-to a crescendo and peters out again.
Is there more? Yes, the complicated storyline which is so full of holes that would shame a colander! If all this is not enough, there is always the actors themselves who are chosen purely for their eye-size and screeching voices.
And after all this drama, if you feel dizzy or queasy, it could be a concussion. You probably fell down unconscious and hit your head pretty hard. In this case, I highly recommend ‘Battlestar Galactica’ (sci-fi TV series), any part of ‘Lord of the Rings’ (I am partial to part I), highly-effective ‘Usual Suspects’ or any of your favourite movie/episode from TV series. Any of these could bring you back to life, provided they are watched immediately after.
A note to my European friends who think the telenovelas are funny only because they watch it with the sound muted- the damage could show up much later in your life, like a dormant virus. Beware!