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Whodunit : Funny article on Adaalat!

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Posted: 27 February 2011 at 5:14am | IP Logged

Whodunit? The Computer Chip

The courtroom is vintage 1970s Bollywood: lawyers don't argue, they make impassioned declamations, "objections" are raised and shot down, and a frazzled judge asks the loudly whispering audience for "order, order". Defence lawyer KD Pathak calls Amrapali ki atma to take the stand in a murder case in which his client is an accused. Lights flicker, thunder rolls, the camera zhoop-zhoops to alarmed faces, and a white shadow flits through the room. Amrapali's spirit answers the summons, and takes the stand briefly, before she disappears into a puff of smoke.

The killer ghost made it to an episode of Adalat, a crime show on Sony Television. Plots stranger than fiction appear on the tiny number of crime shows on Indian television. A Rajasthani haveli turns up 150 km away from Mumbai; a hypnotist makes his victims commit murder by staring deep into their eyes. Really.

You can find a slightly more measured take on reality in the newest crime show on Sony, Khotey Sikkey, where Senior Inspector Damodar Deshmukh, of Cuffe Parade police station, teams up with a group of rich youngsters to crack crime cases. Police stations here look like police stations, and cops and criminals talk in even tones, without frequent bursts of hysteria. This is Yash Raj Films Television's second attempt at a realistic crime show: the first, Powder, about a narcotics unit taking on the drug mafia, was not a TRP-happy exercise.

Television in India always works at hundred pitches above everyday life; reality show judges can weep copiously even at a Mika song sung off-key, and child bride sagas be turned into mush-fests that out-Bhansali Sanjay Leela Bhansali. What then is the fate of crime fiction, a genre so intent on cold, unsentimental reason, where to be unrealistic is to risk your viewer's scorn?

Murder most foul, you could say.

So, Adalat's suave protagonist KD Pathak (played by Ronit Roy) does not save his clients by poring over legal documents; he gets out of his black robe and into jeans and T-shirt, and heads to the scene of crime for a spot of sleuthing. He has all the aces. "KD Pathak is a lawyer who can get clients out of the toughest of situations," says Arshad Sayyed, 39-year-old writer of Adalat, "He has a Houdini-like ability." He tells the speed and make of a vehicle from the sound of it swishing by on a tape ("Yeh ek SUV ki awaz hai, jo 60 km/hr pe jaa raha hai"). He once summoned a dog as a witness for defence, though no questions were asked on whether it was admissible evidence. And how did he conjure up Amrapali ki atma? It was a trick, he admits, to protect his client. But even the explanation, a light-and-sound show, wireless sound speakers, and a trapdoor, rigged up easily in a courtroom, demands suspension of disbelief.

Sayyed is clear that he is okay with make-believe. "Adalat was conceived as a courtroom drama, a genre popular across the world. The Bollywood version, movies like Damini and Meri Jung, has huge fans, where there is a certain amount of drama, certain kinds of clichs used. We wanted the audience to be comfortable with that, and not to be bored by too much realism. We can't put them off."

The longest running crime show on Indian television, CID (13 years, over 600 episodes, Sony), which is about a team of policemen led by ACP Pradyuman (played with baroque flourish by Shivaji Satam), knows how not to put the audience off. When producer BP Singh made a pilot episode in 1993, he was sure he wanted it to be a show that stresses on police work, especially forensics. "I was convinced that if I made a sophisticated crime show, it would work," he says. And it has. Still, you could quarrel over the word "sophisticated".

CID is now a cult of its own its schlocky characters inspire Twitter handles; and its outr detective work, the kind of fondness that Rajini's impossible pyrotechnics do. Its writers steadfastly refuse to take the audience's intelligence for granted, and so, every piece of information, even the most obvious, is spelt out, twice.

Murderers helpfully leave their jackets behind. CCTV cameras zoom in to a suspect's face. And if a pair of smashed spectacles is found on the crime scene, the ACP orders the impossible: "Abhijeet, sheher ke sab chasme ki dukaan talashlo. Pata karo ye chashma kisne kharida. (Abhijit, search all the opticians in town. And find out who bought this pair.") The CID team takes nary an hour to track the said shop down. Finally, there is Inspector Daya, who knocks all doors down, whether or not criminals are holed up inside. ("Daya, darwaza todo", is the ACP's war cry.)

The CID forensic lab, which is featured at least once in every episode, is a large room with a curious air of naivet. Pink, blue and green liquids give off gentle fumes from a row of test tubes. On the walls are lurid diagrams of the brain, massive x-ray plates and photographs of guns. Here, the avuncular chief of forensics, Dr RP Salunkhe is often seen hunched over dead bodies. He has some unusual tools: computers that operate without operating systems, and a software that can scan the scarred face of a corpse, and in a jiffy, generate the original features. "We use forensics, but in an entertaining way. We talk about 'time of death' and 'chemicals' without being specific," says Singh, and adds, "Salunkhe is a comic character, he talks to dead bodies. After years of doing this, he has gone soft in the head. It helps make the forensic lab a centre of entertainment."

Entertainment is what people who blanch from gruesome crime stories of real life are looking for when they watch crime fiction. Crime writers take the messy reality of a murder and create it into a complex ethical fable of order, right and wrong. In shows like Adalat and CID, the entertainment comes from outrageous twists of plot, ketchup-red blood and the comic swagger of cardboard murderers. Almost a show meant for children? Not too wrong there. "CID is a family crime show. We have a huge number of children fans. So we are careful about what we show. We don't show children being kidnapped. You will not find murder on the screen. Or violence against women, or inappropriate behavior, not even holding hands," says Singh. Agrees Adalat's Sayyed, "We wouldn't ever do a fictional take on the Aarushi murder case, for instance. It's too gruesome."

Singh, 61, a veteran of the television industry, who also produced the horror show Aahat (the haunt of black-and-blue walking dead, seen through blue mist), agrees that his show has no resemblance to real life his next is a detective show with a child protagonist, "a boy with an IQ of 200". "Our stories are not taken from reality at all. It's all cooked up," he says. One of the many tropes that the writers of CID are fond of is death by proxy. So, hypnotism can be used to make people commit murder, and dogs trained to leap at throats of people doused in "pheromones".

Impossible is nothing. There was also the case of an Evil Doctor who kidnapped people and implanted computer chips in their brain. He later activated the chips through a laptop, and programmed his victims to kill unsuspecting strangers. "When I wrote this story, I was inspired by an article I had read about how Prince Charles' two sons had been implanted with chips by the British police to track them in case they were kidnapped. I picked that up and cooked up a story," says Singh.

It was an entertaining feast.

IndianExpress

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hin_saKS_MinionLuv-Shonitramsha_002anonymous7anitaraniIsa_de

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Posted: 27 February 2011 at 11:38am | IP Logged
Sukhi, could u just do me the favour and explain what this article says. I'm too lazy to read it. LOLThanx.

Edited by Luv-Shonit - 27 February 2011 at 11:38am

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irene_c

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Posted: 27 February 2011 at 11:54am | IP Logged
What yaaaaaaaaaaaaar Fazy! :P
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Posted: 27 February 2011 at 3:15pm | IP Logged
What! Its too long! 

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irene_c

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Posted: 27 February 2011 at 11:13pm | IP Logged
It's a fun article.. hahahha that's what!
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Posted: 28 February 2011 at 5:16am | IP Logged
I just don't read really long articles but I'll make an attempt at it or at the most, or just scan through it. LOL

Edited by Luv-Shonit - 28 February 2011 at 5:17am

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irene_c

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Posted: 02 March 2011 at 5:26am | IP Logged
Thanx for sharing sukhi di..... Amazing article. Both my favourite show's included.

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