Friday, December 4, 2009

Morning Mumbo Jumbo

It's fifteen minutes to nine. The typical Pakistani housewife is settled comfortably on the couch with a mug of steaming hot tea. The maid has come in (finally after the Eid holidays!), the typical husband has left for work and the typical kids are in school. As the clock strikes nine, she tunes into her favourite morning show. In the ad break, she tunes into the show on the other channel. In case that doesn't interest her she decides to take a sneak peek at the third channel before quickly tuning into her original FAVOURITE show. She makes a mental note of the celebrity's dress, jots down the recipes mentioned in the cooking section and tries to remember the filmi gossip to share with her typical friends. (She also wants to exercise when the show trainer comes on air but her mom calls during that time and well, she has to tell the typical details of yesterday to her!)
There is nothing wrong with these morning shows (or the typical housewife). Infact, these shows are a huge cash cow for each channel. It goes without saying that only the very popular shows get to be money minting programs for their respective channels. Each one has quite a similar pattern. There is a decked up host who starts her (or his) discussion with something very simple like the weather or the fact that wedding parties are supposed to be wrapped up by midnight and what happened at the reception s/he went to last night. Or s/he would give a small lecture on following the law and how, one her way to work, a driver broke the signal and what this reflects of us as a nation. Points to ponder on? (For the housewife we just talked about above, yes). After the opening talk there is the usual horoscope or tarot card reading, a discussion by some 'filmi expert' on the latest films (mostly Indian. Much reflection that is on us as a nation!),
a skin/beauty expert, a guest celebrity, some exercise and cooking and during all this hullabaloo, viewer calls and lots of ads (not to forget the various product placements all over the sets).
From a strictly branding point of view, morning shows are great. From detergents to toothpastes to cooking masalas and milk (not to forget the gazillion other brands that form a part of our monthly grocery list), the housewife watching the show is the perfect target. There are some very funny product placements (like Ariel next to the cooking range during the cooking segment on one morning show. With all due respect, no one really washes their dirty linen in the kitchen!) but mostly, brands occupy "correct" places. Nesvita branding done in the exercise segment, Olpers Cream on the kitchen counter, and a branded mug of steaming hot tea in the hands of the host (I don't know if any brand has done this yet) are bound to catch and hopefully, influence the typical housewife. An expensive effort to become a typical brand on her typical list!
From a non-brand point of view, they are a reasonable pastime. Ofcourse it is better that our housewives (and with all due respect to them) watch something other than those Indian soaps. These soaps have addicts everywhere, in all types of households belonging to all types of
social classes. Unbeliveable! Full marks to the Indians, though, for spreading their fictionalized culture through the telly. Most Indians I know have said, quite emphatically, that the lifestyle shown in these soaps is not reflective of their culture. Just like the attitude of the Australian cricket team is not reflective of the Aussie nation as a whole but ofcourse, as humans we tend to generalize. In our case, we try very hard to reflect a 'soft' image of ourselves in all types of ways but somehow, nobody seems to take notice. Tsk! Tsk!
Karachi is really lovely these days, weather wise. It is fun to go out in the afternoon with friends and discuss days gone by over a cup of tea and doughnuts. It is absolutely heavenly to go at night for a cup of coffee or hot chocolate with carrot cake. I would recommend Expresso for the coffee, cake and ambience. A cup of tea is best had at home while sitting on a couch tuned into your favourite (morning?) show.
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Btw, has anyone of you managed to see 'The 3 Idiots', Amir Khan's new venture? Also, comments on 2o12. Also, which book (if any) are you reading these days?]