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Sunday, April 19, 2015

Not Much Ado About Taking A Break!



Earlier, commercial breaks were not as intrusive as we could anticipate the time and quantity of their coming perfectly thanks to the limited opportunities available. Doordarshan was the only television channel, entertainment-public service-news all combined, for us to confront them.  We knew that maximum ad time would be for the Sunday evening Hindi feature film and we used to utilize those commercial breaks to entertain ‘silent’ guests, discuss the movie on air and make tea. The virtual breaks that were intrusive even then were the songs of Hindi or Bollywood movies that caught us unawares as always forcing us to take a break and go out of the theater into the lobby.  However, with the advent of cable television and the flood of private entertainment and news channels intruding-annoying-agonizing breaks have become a part and parcel of our existence—you like it or not.

There emerged a rich variety of how the commercial breaks began to be presented to us. Maybe at the innermost part of their hearts the channel executives also understood the fact that commercial breaks were not so welcome things for viewers, and therefore, the underlying similarity amid the variety was the restrain that the break was ‘short’ or ‘very short’. They also understood that they were getting more advertising breaks because the main show was very popular, and so they always said ‘Now we are going to take a short commercial break. Please keep watching (or please do not go anywhere).’ If the host of the show was some legend like Amitabh Bachchan he could very well command ‘We are taking only a very short commercial break, don’t dare going anywhere else!’ Like the high-voltage drama the private entertainment or news channels are used to on a daily basis they tried to convince the viewers that those ‘short’ breaks were absolutely necessary and they had no option but to take those even at the cost of disturbing the main show.

Some other sober channels made it plain and simple or even boring. ‘Now there is a short break, we will be back after a short while.’ ‘Now we will take a short commercial break. Stay tuned.’ ‘Rest of the news (or program) after a short commercial break.’ Or a little brighter, ‘Prime time show will be back after a short commercial break. Lots more to come on the other side. Stay tuned.’ Of course, breaks in the movies or TV serials are not announced and they keep on coming of their own sweet will and timing.

As per the new guidelines on maximum television commercial time per hour the channels have to put the countdown timer on screen for the last two minutes of commercial breaks. This has made the waiting time of viewers a little more predictable as they can now do other things and get ready for the programme the moment the clock shows on the screen. This has also led to some interesting results—particularly in the movie channels. They have started mixing up the breaks taking deliriously-announced two-minute breaks sometimes and the ‘unlimited’ breaks at other time. Some channels also advertise ‘no break’ or ‘single break’ movies too from time to time. However, the viewers often have to pay the price of ‘less or no breaks’ with sudden and unannounced ‘unlimited’ breaks going up to even 10/15 minutes.

Things become easier if you think that you can also take breaks in true and full spirit as with those imposed on you or even otherwise. You must have enjoyed taking a break from one of the most one-sided World Cups where your excitement grew, and grew to fever pitch to finally end with a bitter feeling of let-down and crushing disappointment, if you had been India or South Africa or New Zealand fans. Now with the cricket extravaganza named IPL-8 in full swing you have the additional benefits of enjoying even ‘strategic’ breaks. You also must relished a break from Arvind Kejriwal who after getting an unprecedented mandate from Delhi voters for his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and becoming Chief Minister a second time despite the tag of a ‘runaway CM’ got autocratically inspired and started breaking up his own party.

After all, every living soul is entitled for taking a break. This is a very socialistic and egalitarian phenomenon. No differentiation or discrimination made on the class or creed of the break-taker on exercising his/her most democratic right. As you have witnessed only recently how a so crucially important public figure and a people’s representative went missing on a break taken all of a sudden. Yes, we are talking of the Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi who decided to exercise his democratic right, went on a break and reappeared after nearly two months and a huntingly committed media failed even to hint at his possible whereabouts. So, there is nothing wrong if this writer too goes on a break now and then. It is also absolutely not necessary to mention any reason or the lack of it for the break. In this abounding world of breaks and starts whenever and wherever you feel like…do….Take A Break!
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