Kamal and I

“Due to unforeseen circumstances we are unable to bring to you the previously scheduled report this week. We regret the inconvenience, if any. Please come back next week by which time we should have, hopefully, thought up something to fill this space with”.

Ideally, I should have let the above message scroll all over here and gone back to sleep. But I couldn’t because of one minor technical glitch that may not be all that apparent to you, which is: I am not Kamal Haasan.

Let me explain. My original plan was to watch Vishwaroopam’s premiere on DTH platform, touted to be first of its kind of release, and spin a typically irresponsible yarn around my experience of it for this week’s column.  It would have been a hoot. For Kamal’s movies are not mere entertainers, they elevate the medium of cinema to the level of a philosophical quest into the inner dynamics of human psyche that is filled with doubts in general about life, and in particular whether this sentence will possibly end or not.

No seriously, Kamal’s movies are suffused with pith and purpose that can be grappled only ‘if you have a keen mind for exploration’, which in layman’s terms translate into, ‘if you have a lot of free time on your hands’, which actually means in everyday language ‘if you are jobless’.  For instance, his debut Hindi film Ek Duje Ke Liye was, pioneeringly, fully in Tamil. On the other hand, his Tamil classic Hey! Ram has his fans clamouring for more even today. Like a dubbed version of it in — why not? — Tamil.

But alas, Kamal did not premiere his movie this week, and instead what we were presented with was a never-ending matter-of-fact ticker that the film’s telecast has been cancelled. Which at one level was very satisfying because this was the first time that a viewer, turning up to watch a Kamal movie, went back with a message that he or she could readily understand.

With my plans for the weekly column going for a toss, I decided to do what any responsible journalist looking for an alternative news idea would in the circumstance: Call up the DTH company and ask for a refund of the Rs.1000.

Anyway, that night without Vishwaroopam, I ended up watching Son of Sardar, which is a film I will wholeheartedly recommend to you if your idea of good entertainment is falling asleep five minutes into the film.

Kamal may not have set at rest our apprehensions about the Rs.1000 people have paid to watch Vishwaroopam, but that shouldn’t scare you away from DTH service, which is better than your regular cable network. Because with your cable network, you were at the mercy of the local cablewallah, and on an important day of cricket telecasts, you had to be on his phone as to whether he will carry the channel on the network or not. And by the time you sorted out the mess, it wouldn’t matter because the Indian middle-order, which is becoming more unreliable than the entire cable industry, would have crumbled yet again.

Thanks to the DTH platform, you no longer have to frantically call your cablewallah. You have to only call the customer service of the DTH company, who for the sake of enhancing your understanding of the world, will not speak the language you are comfortable with.  At least that’s what happens in my case. Every time, I call I get a voice whose accent has to be the most incomprehensible, of course outside of Kamal’s when he is attempting to sound all British with his American slang.

Anyway, the DTH comes with a Set Top Box (STB) and a small dish antenna — roughly double the size of your typical dosa kallu —- technically designed for collecting the maximum amount of bird droppings.

The dish antenna receives the signals and transmits them to the digital STB to control which there is a handy remote filled with 372 buttons and 1023 in-built functions, out of which less than five will serve any practical use.

One of the features that is possible on some DTH services is that you can schedule to watch programmes five years down the line. This is an extremely helpful utility to catch Paa, which I am sure all networks are bound to telecast as they are doing now, as accepted by all countries by some kind of Geneva Convention on Television Viewing — three times a day, including second Saturdays and Ash Wednesday.

Another important attraction of DTH television service is, wait for it, the many radio channels. I cannot help marvel at the way our technology is progressing: They make available to us precision television sets and make available to us at the same time a plethora of radio stations to listen on them. I look forward to the future in which I can wash my clothes in, I don’t know, microwave oven.

Overall, I would recommend DTH services to you provided you are ready to overlook the fact that what you end up watching is pretty much decided by, well, Kamal Haasan.