finds out how two housing societies in Mumbai have been surviving without the idiot box for the last 13 years
Afew kilometres away from Ekta Kapoorâ€™s Balaji Telefilms stand two housing societies whose residents arenâ€™t, like most of India, breathlessly following the convoluted tracks of her daft soaps. In fact, they donâ€™t care about television at all.
In 1995, the two large coloniesâ€”Gulshan Society in Versova and Gujarat Momin Society in Jogeshwariâ€”threw away their television sets. Some of the 1,500 residents of Gulshan did it with the kind of flourish that would have done Balaji proudâ€”they chucked their TVs from their balconies.
The decision was triggered not by the poor quality of TV soaps but by a zealous speech delivered at the local masjid
by Maulana Abdul Rehman Khorakiwala on the scourge of television.
Thirteen years later, the two enclaves remain televisionless, if one discounts the five or six families in Gulshan Society who have gone back to the habit, citing IPL as the reason. The Gujarat Momin society, however, has been steadfast in its resolveâ€”there is not a single television set among the nearly 10,000 people living there.
So how do the denizens while away the long hours without the vicarious pleasures of Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, Indian Idol or IPL? Usmanbhai Sunasara, an office-bearer of Gulshan Society, dismisses the notion that one needs television. â€œThe children are busy with school; we men go out for work; the women are busy with household chores. We have evening classes on the Quran. So whereâ€™s the time to watch or miss TV?â€™â€™ he asks rhetorically.
Illyasbhai Borania, secretary of the society when the decision to do away with TV was taken, is distressed about the dissident families who have succumbed again to the temptation. â€œItâ€™s basically the youngsters whoâ€™ve bought the sets, saying they wanted to watch Twenty20 and the World Cup. But we all know that
when one has television in the house, one does not stop at watching just cricket or news,â€™â€™ he sighs.
Borania, who is a bit regretful that the managing committee cannot impose unilateral decisions, tries nevertheless to make the youngsters see sense by â€œexplaining to them that TV is nothing short of evilâ€™â€™. Why? â€œHave you watched the daily soaps?â€™â€™ he asks indignantly. â€œHave you watched the Hindi movies? Do you think that they are family viewing?â€™â€™
His family has not asked once for TV, he says, adding loftily, â€œIt all depends on the values that parents inculcate in their children.â€™â€™
The residents of Gulshan and Gujarat Momin Society are from the Chiliya Muslim community that traces its origins to Palanapur, Sidpur and nearby areas in Gujarat. Both societies have a lifestyle thatâ€™s different from other Muslim societies in Mumbai. There are mosques within the society premises, and the atmosphere is distinctly religiousâ€”if one
isnâ€™t working, one is praying or just relaxing in small congregations in the evening.
The societiesâ€™ denizens are particularly proud of leading what they claim is a wholesome life without the insidious intrusion of television. New entrantsâ€”the girls who marry into families here, for instanceâ€”get into the flow of a televisionless life without much ado.
Rizwana Borania, daughter-in-law of Illyasbhai, says that when she got married, she was aware that there would be no TV at her husbandâ€™s home in Mumbai. â€œAt my motherâ€™s home in Mehsana we did watch TV. But thank god we donâ€™t have it here. TV is evil,â€™â€™ she declares vehemently.
A Christian girl who married a Gulshan Society resident six months ago also claims she is happy.
Not that the womenfolk of Gulshan society are clueless about televisionâ€”they know the alarmingly mutating plots of Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki or Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, for instance.
â€œYes, we are aware of serials because people talk about them and they are written about. But there never been any desire to see them,â€™â€™ reiterates Rizwana.
To cite the converse situation, thereâ€™s 22-year-old Khadija Kojar who grew up in Gulshan Society and moved out after marriage a year and half ago. Her marital home has a TV set, but for Khadija that is irrelevant. â€œI can watch TV all I want to now,â€™â€™ she says. â€œI did, out of curiosity. But I am not terribly impressed by what I saw.â€™â€™
A lot of regular TV watchers would second that sentiment. TNN