I love Arvind Kejriwal for what he has done to vitalize the youth and make politics an everyday game, but I love his antics on TV everyday even more than that. He has added masala entertainment to an otherwise drab screen. I actually watch TV now.
The general belief in India was and is that content lags far behind it’s international counterparts’ quality (and hence entertainment standards. For the longest time, viewers in India have watched re-runs of international shows with delays ranging from a few days to a few years. Increasingly, the advent of torrents and downloads has switched a lot of upper-middle class Indians from their TV to their laptop or smart phone or tablet. But all that has changed now. The daily Arvind Kejriwal show has become as much a part of the day as the daily Arnab show has become a part of the night. The drama is just too compelling to resist. Delhi CM going on dharna against the central government. A vigilante law minister asking the police to go raid a place that is a known problem area than wait for proof and not move. Transferring 800 people in a critical water department within a week of taking charge (did they use a “Random Sort” in Microsoft Excel to do the transfers ?
Suddenly, women and the youth are transfixed. A typical Indian household used to be about the father watching “Politics and New” while the women watched some TV (or didn’t watch at all) while the son watched sports (I almost said sports but I think football is just as popular as cricket among the youth. Now everybody is interested in who or what was on the Arvind Kejriwal menu today. With national elections looming in 3 months, the action is only going to get longer and louder.
They say the Great Depression was when the last set of truly great superheroes were created. All the characters that we know and love today, Superman, Batman, Flash – all these were created in that period when people wanted fantasy and escapism on screen because conditions at home were just too difficult. India in the 80s (before liberalisation and globalisation improved the overall economic scenario manyfold) was a dreary place and we created our own local superhero “Amitabh Bachan”. The post 2008 global crisis fallout in India have made life difficult. People need a superhero to believe in and Arvind Kejriwal is using that space brilliantly.
To round off every day of action, we even have a nightcap. Arnab the not-at-all-mild-mannered Clark Kent is a good foil to Arvind Kejriwal’s Superman by day routine. Taking on politicians publicly, ripping all attempts to obfuscate and confuse people, doing his homework on “actual data” and being more prepared in a day than politicans in charge of that subject and calling a spade a spade have made for compelling TV.
Both Arvind and Arnab have also been roundly criticised by the middle class which wants things to be “Change completely” by their own admission and yet does not like the prospect of facing the “Pain that change will create”.
I think both of them will probably hone and finetune what they do. For the present, they are like a startup suddenly gone viral. All over the place, probably out of control and maybe setup to implode in its first avatar. The movie is playing, dim the lights please…..