How many can we take? The answer is -more than you'd think. All it takes is a bit of imagination.
Rock n Roll Family on Zee TV is one fine example. It's the same 'doll up and put your best foot forward' variety of show. The difference is this is a family show. I don't mean family viewing but family performing. And the most interesting thing is it's THREE generations on stage together.
So we have the Bhalke family from Indore where dada sports hairgel and a Metallica tshirt while dadi wears a skirt (ankle length, but still!). And the Patel family from Ahmedabad whose performance is on the theme of being able to exchange your wife for a new one. Nothing perverted, just the real life wife walking out of a cupboard in a shiny silver costume showing off 6 inches of her midriff.
You would not wear that and walk down C G Road but all is fair on national television.
It's amazing how we seem to have loosened up as a country. These are all regular, not-so-Westernised families from Jaipur, Indore, UP and so on. But they lose their inhibitions on stage. They flirt shamelessly with the judges, and debate on saali being aadhi or poori gharwali. All scripted for sure but there is no sharam or lihaaj in either the banter or the matkas and jhatkas.
Another nice touch is having a 'family' as the judges - Ajay Devgan, Kajol and Tanuja. And before the judges award points each family must decide where it stands by climbing up a series of steps labelled 1-10. Meaning agar aapko apni kabiliyat ka andaaz hai tabhi to doosre bhi aapko appreciate karenge!
Enough said. I don't know if the 'best' family will win because the one of the few who got 9 points today bagged honours not for dancing well but a Taare Zameen Par tearjerker moment. The overall tone of this show is TZP actually, as against other reality shows where bitching and backbiting is used to retain viewer interest.
At least we know these judges won't be giving press conferences badmouthing each other :)
On the other end of the spectrum is song and dance shows using professionals - like Nach Baliye and Jhalak Dikhla Ja. Now there's Dhoom Macha De, which is also very watchable. This show features a bunch of semi forgotten stars competing to be crowned the best live performer in India.
And the mix of interesting themes, enthusiastic and well put together performances and endearing judges makes for good television. Devang Patel's humorous version of 'Chalte Chalte, mujhe koi mil gaya tha' and Richa Sharma's rendition of the ghazal 'Aaj jaane ki zid na karo' were both outstanding.
When we were kids there was a tradition of holding a variety entertainment show in our building basement on a makeshift stage, every 26th Jan and 15th August. Now it seems all the world's a stage and anyone can be a player.
No basements anymore, only living rooms.