Saturday, February 13, 2010


There was a Book Fair in New Delhi from Jan 30th to Feb 8th. My son, with whom I am staying now in Delhi, was working in a friend’s stall there. So for that period of time I was left to myself from 9am to 9pm as my son lives alone, a confirmed bachelor. To have some kind of noise in the house I turned to the TV, or rather, switched on the TV.

I rarely watch TV. If at all I do, it is only Malayalam movies or very old Tamil ones. Even there I am very choosy and selective about what I watch. But during the ten days I was by myself I was exposed to the world of television commercials. So much so, I started seeing commercial in my dreams.

Personally I feel these commercials are frustrating. It is ages since one has watched a programme on the TV without these ads butting in. They are there in the 30 minutes allotted for the news even. Whenever a cricket match is televised one gets only glimpses of the matches in between commercials. It may sound funny but it is the truth.

There was a time when one could watch TV programmes without any commercial breaks. In those days there was no round the clock programme or so many channels or so many varieties of goods available in the market. The pleasure of watching a movie at a stretch without any break in your own home was really great. One had to pay a tax of Rs 50 per year to have a TV licence. No one had to suffer these jingles and jargon.
I vividly remember the viewers’ reactions when commercial breaks were introduced for the first time. Housewives running to the kitchen to give finishing touches to the cooking, feeding the school-going kids, and the kids themselves rushing to finish their homework, get their uniforms and books ready for the next day during this break. The novelty soon died as the commercial breaks increased with proportion to the increase in the channels and advertisements increased by leaps and bounds.
Still I liked viewing TV programmes without anybody thrusting ideas like using a certain brand of soap could makes one’s skin soft and spotless if a particular jingle is sung when having a bath. If you use another brand of soap you not only become clean but within a few days become beautiful too, so beautiful to win beauty contests.

The fruity fragrance of another brand of soap as it assails another model makes her forget where she is. She, being in a hurry to use that soap, starts peeling off her clothes one by one all the while rushing home. By the time she reaches home she is ready to jump into the shower. You believe it?

Coming to toothpastes, there are so many available nowadays. Take any brand there are different varieties. Unless you know which type you want you are at a loss when you go shopping. Add to that the ads for tooth paste really confuse you. Have you ever heard two schoolboys discussing toothpaste? Of all things, toothpaste? Which one will prevent tooth decay? Which is the best? So on and so on. A young girl with a doll is more interested in seeing her doll having good perfect teeth by using a certain type of toothpaste. Could one believe all this?

As it is, children of today are very precocious and very intelligent. They, in some cases, are more knowledgeable than their previous generation. They know about the why and how of things, how such and such gadget works. Why bring them into commercials to air their knowledge and belittle their parents to the viewer like a small boy telling his mother what commonsense is? I belong to a very old generation. I find all this a little too hard to swallow.

I find a few ads really good and interesting and educative. They give you the freedom of choice, they don’t give the public false hopes. One should know what soap or shampoo or hair oil or face cream suits him or her best and go for that.
I have just expressed a few of my thoughts I do not know how it may sound to others Everyone is entitled to have a viewpoint, These are mine, right or wrong.