Bollywood Tambola…. A dunderhead program which you can watch on NDTV Imagine everyday at around 9 PM is an absolutely wonderful concept. In fact it is a double money making machine for the producers of the show. You get money from the telecom operators on behalf of the morons that call in on the show AND you don’t even have to pay the prize money.
The basic idea behind the program is very simple. The host, a guy trying to do his best to look like a Casanova (or a gal trying to look like a siren, attempting to lure the unwary… only in this case not just sailors but just about everybody), will ask the audience a very simple question about a Bollywood Celebrity and the caller has to just call the given number and “just take away” the money. Nothing could be simpler than this… right?
Well… Wrong. First let me explain a little bit about the game. There are three modes of contacting the host: Firstly, calling through landline; Secondly, calling through mobile; and Thirdly, sending an SMS to the given number. However, try as you might, you can’t call that number from a landline. They give you a code to message through the mobile but they don’t tell you how to send the answer which effectively makes the message just a waste of the money. Then, in the final bid to reach the host, you would have to call that number from mobile being charged something like Rs. 10 per minute… Needless to say that this statement is placed in the finest of fine prints on the screen.
But that is still not the end of the story. You are told that you are actually “A lucky audience” and that “You have reached the Waiting lounge”. The most irksome thing is that you are time and again being told that you are in the waiting lounge whereas the host on the show is not getting any calls at all despite this being such an easy question.
Well the episode I watched figured an eyeshot of a famous Bollywood actress (oops Actor). The person in question was Rani Mukherjee. The host gave a lot of tantalizing hints about the identity such as “Raja ka opposite kya hai”… “Dil bole Hadippa”… “Karan Johar and Shahrukh Khan ki favourite”… and so on.
The host keeps on “trying” to make the deal even more lucrative… Increasing the prize money… Showing more of the face and so on… but what got me is that during the show almost all the names of the actresses were thrown around, just short of getting around to male actors or reaching to Hollywood actors/actresses on the “Bollywood Tambola” :D
In fact, the host(ess) tried to engage the audience with witty verbal banter such as “Mein jaanta(jaanti) hoon ki aap hi sahi answer jaante hain… fir bhi aap mujhe phone kyoon nahin kar rahe hain?” (I know that you know the right answer but why aren’t you calling me yet?) and “inhone toh galat jawab diya but aap jab sahi jawab jaante hain toh phone kyoon nahin karte?” (The guy before gave a wrong answer but you the right answer… why aren’t you calling?) What’s really irksome is that while you are kept on hold, of course you are still lucky to have gotten through the connection the host assures us and the caller is made to listen to the endless waiting call tone, there are absolutely no calls coming into the studio. Almost makes one wonder why are people being kept on hold while no calls are pouring in the studio and still the host is urging more and more people to call the number. Another curious thing that I observed was that all the callers were males and the Bollywood celeb is always female. Curious, isn’t it?
The first time, I spent 30 minutes watching this excuse of a show just to see what would happen when anyone would call in with the right answer. As it happens the entire episode was about this one question where the people called in at intermittent intervals with answers as varied as Deepika Padukone to Ravina Tandon to Celine Jaitley. I mean how difficult can it be to guess an answer as easy as that. The program sure beats the hell out of “Are you smarter than a Fifth grader?” Because the people that were able to get through the waiting lounge didn’t seem like they were. After that I switch the program for a couple of minutes every week just to see if anything is different and I am surprised that it is. The host changes every week… Probably the shame of being on such a show drives them to commit suicide or probably their conscience forced them to do something more worthwhile like, I dunno, watch a spider build its web or contemplate deeply on the theological implications of the dissonance between metaphysical and contemplative world or why and how the space – time continuum is not visible in the existing 3-D analytical framework of the modern mathematics.
And if you think that that’s it for one episode folks at least I will get to know who the celebrity is then you couldn’t be more wrong. The picture is carried over the next day with the whole charade being repeated again.
What I think about this entire episode is that the producers of the show think that the audience are a bunch of fools… anyone could see what was happening on the show. The producers had deliberately set up an easy question on the show to get more and more people to call or message on the number and increase the revenue that the producers collect from the telecom operators. Furthermore, since there was only one question on the entire episode, the number of incoming calls per prize would be maximized so the profits again get increased to the maximum levels. Additionally, all the numbers that called in were kept on hold to further increase the revenue. I strongly suspect that the calls that finally got through must have been from the insider circle of the producers so that they don’t even have to give out the prize money to an outsider; effectively making this all a glorified farce. But then again this is my reading in this scenario judging from the type of calls that were pouring in and the fact the right answer was never given throughout the show, even when almost 80 % of the face was visible.
But what was the most shameful about this entire episode was that such a sham of a program was being aired on an NDTV channel. I might have understood had this show been telecast on some cable channel. But NDTV? That is pure disgraceful.