Unfamiliar Entertainment

Toilet stalls urinals (c) Anupam Choudhury

Before Netflix and Amazon Prime, before YouTube, before even cable TV, Indians\’ choice in television entertainment was limited. Severely limited. To two: Doordarshan and DD Metro. And before that, just one: DD.

ALL Indians (who could afford a TV and had electricity) watched the same programme at the same time across the country.

So, basically, everybody had the same thing to discuss the next day. All adults had the same news and family dramas to analyze. All children had the same cartoons and kids shows to play act.

I suspect that this lead to a communal sharing of experiences that brought people together. From a social perspective, perhaps there was some merit in this lack of options.

Television was like going to the amusement park together; like going to a diner and sitting at the same table eating the same food.

Everyone\’s always been different, but a kind of uniformity was imposed. I feel that people then tolerated each other much better since they had the same experiences and always had something to talk about.

Now we have more than we can handle, more than we need, more than we ever desired. And yet, we\’ve never had so much FOMO.

Someone\’s watching Comicstaan and someone\’s watching Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. Some watch Fleabag and others, Narcos. There are so many cricket matches that even cricket fans have to skip some.

You meet your friends, but because you\’re different people, your taste in entertainment is different, and you end up talking about the weather and the state of the economy in vague terms. (Unless it\’s something as wildly popular as Game of Thrones.)

Families are split: father, mother, daughter, dog, each has their own preference. Out comes the smartphone and out goes family time. Now we go to the same restaurant but sit on separate tables. We don\’t even go to the same amusement park anymore.

I guess the jury is still out on whether we\’ve lost something valuable in gaining options.

Published by Anupam Choudhury

I'm a writer, editor, and blogger from New Delhi, India.

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