Good Morning J&K: A Visual Torture

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By Jamsheed Rasool

Good Morning J&k 1Launched with much fanfare, the LIVE Morning show of DD Kashmir is a damp squib. The repetitive segments mostly about historical monuments, archaic style of anchoring, ill-devised format and far too liberal choice of guests has rendered it nothing more than a visual torture.

It was formulated, some four years ago, for ‘unifying the three regions of the state of Jammu and Kashmir’ ideologically and philosophically. Practically, it was supposed to assiduously knit together the three geographically, linguistically and culturally different regions of Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh. The guesswork contemplated at the time was that even if the outlandish target of unifying the three regions is not achieved, we could somehow telepathically (rather in an occultist way) cobble up a similarly-thinking, similarly-expressing populace who would forget the thousand-year-old differences in their culture and jump to the wretched conclusion that they were brothers who somehow during biblical times decided to live in the three geographical zones of the state. It was this integrally flawed thinking which triggered a floodgate of unpardonable blunders from the state’s premier broadcasting house.

In 2011, there was a considerable opposition to the prospect of the first LIVE morning show thrown up by the then director DD Kashir Shami Shair. But she was adamant that since it was a proposal of the central government doing anything to the contrary would amount to treachery. Despite a relentless inquisitiveness exhibited by the higher ups at the broadcasting house the then Director remained tight-lipped who the people in the union government making launch of this LIVE morning program a matter of life and death were.

Bossed over with firm orders, at times with a tinge of terseness, the sub-ordinates had no choice but to ‘make it possible’. Many seniors expressing some reservations, however, remained aloof to the idea. Their opposition was based on solid facts. The fact that DD Kashir officials did not have the decisive willingness to shot newer segments every day and were utterly ill-equipped to do so even if they somehow garnered willingness prevailed upon the senior Program Executives to cold shoulder such a ‘dicey’ proposal.

Finally a well-meaning sycophant among the flock flung a mouth-watering prospect of hauling out the past footage from the archives and sand-witching it in between the discourse to make it look as if shot just the day before. The idea mooted was lend credence by the general faulty assumption that since the memory of the populace is very short-lived, so with a bit of editing they could pass off archival footage as freshly shot. It was this mid-day robbery which was so well executed that people were all praises and the LIVE Good Morning show was credited as the flagship program of the state’s Premier broadcasting house. In one locality of downtown Srinagar it was reported that an old woman, after watching a segment about artisans, fainted seeing her deceased husband in his salt-n-pepper days speak about the poor fate of artisans- the gentleman having had died some two decades ago. The fact that this archival footage was being played without any sub-text of “Archival footage” was a faux pas.

The problem of connecting the format to the audiences in Jammu and Ladakh were fixed by cherry picking a segment from Jammu and Ladakh regions. These segments, mostly about historical monuments, were supposed to act as covalent bond to unremittingly interweave together the three regions. These segments, along with the equally monotonous segments from the Kashmir valley, gave the program a hotchpotch, airy-fairy color. In fact in one of the programs, in sub-zero temperature, a retired judge was served cold water. The retired judge, true to his fearless reputation, used the LIVE program as a medium to convey his inconvenience regarding the wrong choice of beverage. Some problem-solver got this fixed with a samovar on the sets and the man in charge of hospitality was ordered to make sure it should vaporize whenever camera caught it.

Just in a few months time the archival stock thinned out which again showed how much work had been done during past three decades. In an utterly shameless endeavor the authorities would broadcast the segments repeatedly over. This was cheating with the tax-paying viewer who pays to watch quality stuff on state’s official broadcaster.

Auditioned hard during the pre-production phase of the program, the greenhorn hosts, after being given a couple of episodes was shown the door. The graying old anchors were given preference- one among them renowned for his wrinkled, haggard face. The scholars studying Broadcast Media conclusively prove that a face on Television, no matter how good, has a shelf life. The anchors are rooted in a medieval world view and indulge in undue commentary on the answers given by the hosts (hell breaks loose when a poet is guest in the program). At one point in the four-year-old mottled history of the program the other anchor (usually a female) co-anchoring the show with the “wrinkled veteran” was ordered to act mute and only nod the head all along the torturous one hour duration. This particular practice went on for months together as if the other anchor was Neanderthal and slowly transforming into a Cro-Magnon through careful listening and meticulous nodding of head.

Almost all the male anchors of the program are approved drama artists, a tradition strongly loathed by the Prasar Bharati higher ups given the sensibilities of the audience. One younger male anchor was found playing a goon in a Tele serial who teases innocent female students at the University of Kashmir, the drama being broadcast just half an hour after the male anchor had lectured on morality during the morning show.

This program was also notorious for bringing undue favors to the DD Kashir higher ups after it emerged that a gazelle-eyed female anchor hobnobbing with the ‘official heavyweights” in the program was caught in a compromising position with a politician in a houseboat and a First Information Report( FIR) registered against her. The very next morning to the surprise of “all and sundry” she was seen hosting the program. The incident created a furor after which the then director was transferred.

The fact that this crap on DD Kashir is emblematic of Kashmiris’ unflinching love for mediocrity is to be gloomed over. Host Zahid Mukhtar steals the show. Even the most naïve feel he overdoes it. The segments sand-witched in between the doleful discourse is repeated more times in a month than a neighborhood aunty flaunts her high-heeled pedigree. The set currently in use would fit any third-rate comedy show (If DD Kashir auctions the set they would jump to buy it.) If somehow aliens saw it, they would gauge our naivety and think of colonizing us. Only Hitler would award it an equivalent of Oscars for visual torture (Sajid Nadiadwala’s Himmatwala being a distant runner up). I cannot help put on record a popular joke which says that if you are good enough to tie your shoe laces all by yourself, absolutely unaided, you have the seat of guest waiting for you in Good Morning J&K. It is a cul-de-sac of mediocrity and tail-end of moroseness. Does this nation with more than two thousand years of rich literature deserve this as the “Morning Show”?  If the producers cannot shoot newer segments every day then what is it that they are doing there? Is all our excellence past us? Are we just pale shadows of our glorious broadcasting past and would we keep on dishing out such pathetic shows just because someone said that the show must go on? DD Kashir has a lot to answer for.

17396_10206115847365620_9132191528047622491_n(Jamsheed Rasool is an MERC graduate. Ideas expressed in this article are author’s own.)

2 Comments

  1. Qayum Tariq Khan on

    The above article ” good morning J&K ” carries the prejudiced face of personal opinions and moves from one phase to another with highly negative point of view that one can’t title factual analysis based on the facts or its direct or indirect detrimental bearing on the general mind set of the populace or an effort to redefine historical realities, with an ostensible or concealed agenda of conferring different sense and meaning contrary to admitted facts. In all countries of the world there are programmes of this sort between 7.30 AM to 9.AM simply to make feel home leaving people for work that they work and live in conducive social environment not in conflict with their everyday life. Often these programmes are oriented toward socio- cultural issues to creat positive atmosphere of social homoganity. Kashmir being mosaic of multi dimensional cultural and geographical entities and expressions has rich heritage and fabulous identity with its oldest history records like ” Nilmathpran” , thus to represent the people of all cultures with their social back grounds is no so easy job to do everyday. Credit goes to the producers and presentators for evolving new concepts to hold the interest of audience. While being in Kashmir last year and before I happen to watch the programme many times and it was to my great pleasure to watch it and gather information regarding lot of things I didn’t know. The criticism if not healthy and constructive loses its basic sense.

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