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Introducing, Sid Mallya !
Sivaram Srikandath
 Story Dated: Monday, November 26, 2012 21:12 hrs IST 
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If you are an avid TV watcher like I am, then it is quite  possible that you watch NDTV Good Times, the lifestyle channel launched in 2007  by NDTV and the people behind the Good Times marque, Kingfisher. It  is quite an interesting channel   with a  slew of informative and  entertaining programs on offer for the discerning viewer. The programming format is similar to other international lifestyle channels like The Learning Channel (TLC) or Fox Traveller - food, travel, wellness  and lifestyle - and caters to young, urban Indians with interests in areas such as health and fitness, cooking, parenthood, holidaying, marriage and leisure.  The qualifying difference is that most, or all, of the programming is original and not syndicated from other international channels. Which makes for interesting viewing. since we as viewers, get to see a lot of our own culture, geography, food and tradition. Most often, the programming on the channel is a celebration of what's quintessentially Indian, and serves as a gentle reminder to all of us, middle-class arriviste enamored of everything foreign, of how little we know of the diversity of, and  the age old traditions of our culture, or how little we have seen of our own country.

Some of the programs on NDTV Good Times have by now acquired iconic status with the presenters and anchors gathering a cult following. And many of the shows have  indeed, been  pretty darned good. Shows like Highway On My Plate,  Chak Le India, One Life to Love, Gourmet Central, Heavy Petting, Gadget Guru are all shows that have acquired a faithful audience both because of the content they offer, as well as the style of presentation.

But disappointingly enough, the channel is now showing signs of  fatigue. Many of the original shows have been retired, or replaced, and the new shows just don't seem to pack the punch and bite of the previous offerings. There is a discernible shift  away from the earlier content oriented  programming to celebrity centered fluff.  This year, for example, the channel launched three new foodie shows, all of them damp squibs.  First off, there was  the garish  Foodistan, a culinary battle between India and Pakistan anchored by Ira Dubey and Aly Khan (dressed as if they were hosting a Film Awards Night) that just did not grab eyeballs. C'mon, a food battle between India and Pakistan. How lame is that premise? Later on in the year came Love Bites with Joey, which was all about a supermodel trying to act coy and beguiling - a miserable seduction attempt that did not go down well  with the viewers. While her recipes were quite good, Joey had neither the  charm nor the oomph factor to  make such a show work. And then arrived the Fat Man and 13 Brides, a silly attempt at profiling the chubby host Bikramjit Ray as a wise-acre in search of potential brides from all across the country; the only qualification being they needed to know how to cook well. Sadly enough Bikramjit's puerile attempts at humour were just that - sad !

And  now  the late night 10pm slot on NDTV Good Times has become a celebration of the Prince of Good Times, Sid Mallya, as he co-hosts this year's Hunt for the Kingfisher Calendar Girl. Together with model  and beauty pageant winner Lisa Haydon, our man  Sid is  on the lookout for a girl who "boasts of oomph, charisma and has a fit bikini body."  The promos for the show  have the young Mallya strutting about the beach in white linen, mouthing schmaltzy inanities in a wannabe British accent : "The toughest thing you will ever do is to come to face with your limitations............ And only when you dig deep down do you know who you really are.......... Not defining moments but moments that define you..............Take the plunge.....Push limits, Conquer fear." Blah, blah and yet more blah.  And then the tagline appears in the bottom right corner of the screen "Introducing Sid Mallya."

Oh yeah, the world was waiting for this moment !

Get  a grip on reality, kid.  White linen threads or not, you ain't  no New Age guru dishing out fancy aphorisms, and the show you are hosting ain't no voyage of self realization and discovery. However well you package it,  admit it man, the Hunt  for the Kingfisher Calendar Girl is just a show of skin. Feminists may take umbrage at my words, but finding out how a nubile bikini clad young woman can pose on acrylic boxes do not make for  a test of oomph, charisma and personality. I am sorry; but that be the truth.

And all this taking place while the first cracks have begun to appear in the edifice of the Mallya  family empire.  Whether  Mallya Senior admits it or not, the sale of the family jewels has started and the vultures have already begun appearing on the horizon.  This is the time for circling the wagons and fighting a rearguard action; not for a vulgarian display of primping and preening with a bevy of bikini clad babes.

Perhaps, Sid, you have never heard of Emperor Nero. During your Prep School education, you should  have paid more attention to  a study of classical history. You could have learned something from it. As George Santayana said, those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
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