Indian television

Channel surfing: I tried to take a break from the news and ran into Pahlaj Nihalani

Seeking a respite from the headlines? Non-news programming can be equally confounding.

Let’s face it, sometimes the news gets too overwhelming, too OTT, too loud, too much. It’s probably true what they say about appointment viewing going down. We’re all so much happier “snacking” on the news in more palatable chunks online. The likes and shares are a barometer of public appetite, though you might be forgiven for thinking more of us are invested in fashion faux pas, the lifestyles of the rich and famous, Kim Kardashian’s latest disrobing, or the listicles that abound.

Or we’re just suckers for clickbait.

In any event, sometimes news fatigue does set in. It’s so much easier to look away from apoplectic anchors and multiple heads bobbing on the screens, soothe your soul and calm your fraying nerves with the fiction on offer. The thought is that you’ll catch up on everything online anyway or understand things better and more in depth the following morning with your regular newspaper. (Once interest in newspapers also fades, one is in dangerous territory.)

So what’s on, you wonder? Full-on blasts from the past are my go-to. I have watched one of my all-time favourite movies, Stardust, instead of the news at least three times, marvelling each time at the creepiness that Michelle Pfeiffer brings to the role. And how delightful is Robert de Niro as the campy pirate Captain Shakespeare? Not to mention the utterly delectable Charlie Cox playing Tristan and Claire Danes as Yvaine. Like anything Neil Gaiman-based, this one’s a magical ride, and guaranteed to take your attention away from the gloom and doom (and noise) that prevails in the real world. I have to say, I’m also a sucker for My Cousin Vinny, and can watch some of those scenes with Marisa Tomei and Joe Pesci innumerable times.

But it’s not as though watching TV – even if you record it and skip the pesky ads – is entirely stress- free. In fact, it can be downright confounding if you’re watching the shows you enjoy, and want to watch regularly. Forget Game Of Thrones, which is probably near-impossible to understand with half its dialogue cut and its scenes (nudity and violence) censored. I am routinely surprised to find random names and words bleeped out of even regular TV shows, such as Jimmy Fallon, Steve Colbert and some of Jimmy Kimmel. In one show, the name of an American politician on Kimmel was bleeped out. I couldn’t even deduce who it was! It makes zero sense to me.

East India Comedy’s comedy spot on censorship on Indian TV.

Is this some sort of paranoia that’s crept in?

Possibly not, as a friend at Star once told me about the sheer volume of complaints that comes in to the channel based on objectionable language to content. Clearly some of you out there prefer the nanny state approach to adult TV consumption.

Here’s hoping the fall-out of the Udta Punjab controversy, which has equal parts elevated and lowered the discourse on censorship (elevating it to the judicial level and lowering it given the basis of objections from the censor board), has some sort of positive ripple effect or at least triggers more conversations on censorship. The Bombay High Court’s observations that the Central Board of Film Certification need not be overly critical are more than welcome. And let’s hear it for the phrase it used “Let the public decide”.

I don’t understand why we can’t have a system whereby adults watch uncensored programmes on channels that they pay to subscribe to. Monitor the children watching, by all means, parents! But what’s the deal with monitoring adults? Who said we need uber-adult supervision? What’s the corrupting effect that bad language might have on the average denizen of Delhi, I ask? (For one, it’s hilarious to think that anyone can teach Delhiites better gaalis than we already have.)

But sure, I only mean loosen the shackles within reason, if that makes you comfortable – this isn’t a call to anarchy!

In the meantime, I’m going back to my tried and tested staple diet of 20-odd years ago, F.R.I.E.N.D.S. Though it’s highly unlikely that on the 200th viewing of the 300th re-run, or whatever it is, that there’s an episode I will have missed, some of that light-hearted humour still gets me. Every time. Switch on, switch off, laugh, repeat.

Amrita Tripathi is an author and recovering news junkie. She has previously worked for CNN-IBN and The Indian Express. At times, she may have a glancing familiarity or more with the news players mentioned.

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It’s the new year and it’s already time to plan your next holiday

Here are some great destinations for you to consider.

Vacation planning can get serious and strategic. Some people swear by the save and splurge approach that allows for one mini getaway and one dream holiday in a year. Others use the solo to family tactic and distribute their budget across solo trips, couple getaways and family holidays. Regardless of what strategy you implement to plan your trip, the holiday list is a handy tool for eager travellers. After having extensively studied the 2018 holiday list, here’s what we recommend:

March: 10 days of literature, art and culture in Toronto

For those you have pledged to read more or have more artistic experiences in 2018, Toronto offers the Biblio-Mat, the world’s first randomising vending machine for old books. You can find the Biblio-Mat, paper artefacts, rare books and more at The Monkey’s Paw, an antiquarian bookseller. If you can tear yourself away from this eclectic bookstore, head over to The Public Library in Toronto for the Merril Collection of over 72000 items of science fiction, fantasy magic realism and graphic novels. With your bag full of books, grab a coffee at Room 2046 – a café cum store cum studio that celebrates all things whimsical and creative. Next, experience art while cycling across the 80km Pan Am Path. Built for walking, running, cycling and wheeling, the Pan Am Path is a recreational pathway that offers a green, scenic and river views along with art projects sprinkled throughout the route. You can opt for a guided tour of the path or wander aimlessly for serendipitous discoveries.

Nothing beats camping to ruminate over all those new ideas collected over the past few days. Make way to Killarney Provincial Park for 2-3 days for some quiet time amongst lakes and hills. You can grab a canoe, go hiking or get back to nature, but don’t forget to bring a tent.

If you use the long-weekend of 2nd March to extend your trip, you get to experience the Toronto Light Festival as a dazzling bonus.

June: 10 days of culinary treats, happy feet and a million laughs in Chicago

Famous for creating the deep-dish pizza and improv comedy, Chicago promises to banish that mid-year lull. Get tickets for The Second City’s Legendary Laughs at The UP-Comedy Club - the company that gave us the legendary Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert and Key & Peele. All that laughter can sure work up an appetite, one that can be satiated with Lou Malnati’s classic deep-dish pizza. For dessert, head over to the Ferrara Original Bakery for mouth-watering treats.

Chicago in June is pleasant and warm enough to explore the outdoors and what better way to soak in the sunshine, than by having a picnic at the Maggie Daley Park. Picnic groves, wall climbing, mini golf, roller blading – the park offers a plethora of activities for individuals as well as families.

If you use the long weekend of 15th June, you can extend your trip to go for Country LakeShake – Chicago’s country music festival featuring Blake Shelton and Dierks Bentley.

August: 7 days in London for Europe’s biggest street festival

Since 1964, the Notting Hill Carnival has been celebrating London’s Caribbean communities with dancing, masquerade and music ranging from reggae to salsa. Watch London burst into colours and sparkle at the Notting Hill Carnival. Home to Sherlock Holmes and Charles Dickens Museum, London is best experienced by wandering through its tiny streets. Chance encounters with bookstores such as Foyles and Housemans, soaking in historic sights while enjoying breakfast at Arthur’s Café or Blackbird Bakery, rummaging the stalls at Broadway market or Camden Market – you can do so much in London while doing nothing at all.

The Museum of Brand, Packaging and Advertising can send you reminiscing about those old ads, while the Clowns Gallery Museum can give you an insight in clown-culture. If you’d rather not roam aimlessly, book a street-art tour run by Alternative London or a Jack the Ripper Tour.

October: 10 days of an out-of-body experience in Vegas

About 16 km south of the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and St. Rose Parkway in Henderson, lies a visual spectacle. Seven Magic Mountains, an art installation by Ugo Rondinone, stands far away from the wild vibe that people expect in Las Vegas and instead offers a sense of wonder. Imagine seven pillars of huge, neon boulders, stacked up against one another stretched towards the sky. There’s a lot more where that came from, in Las Vegas. Captivating colour at the permanent James Turrell exhibit in Louis Vuitton, outdoor adventures at the Bootleg Canyon and vintage shopping at Patina Décor offer experiences that are not usually associated with Vegas. For that quintessential Vegas show, go for Shannon McBeath: Absinthe for some circus-style entertainment. If you put the holiday list to use, you can make it for the risefestival – think thousands of lanterns floating in the sky, right above you.

It’s time to get on with the vacation planning for the new year. So, pin up the holiday list, look up deals on hotels and flights and start booking. Save money by taking advantage of the British Airways Holiday Sale. With up to 25% off on flight, the offer is available to book until 31st January 2018 for travel up to 31st December in economy and premium economy and up to 31st August for business class. For great fares to great destinations, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of British Airways and not by the Scroll editorial team.