Friends, Indians, country people, lend me your ears — before it’s too late. You can be vaccinated as many times as you like and top it up with booster shots that will rocket you to the moon, but there is only one real defence against this enemy that has infiltrated the very air we breathe: a shreshta naagin.
You don’t believe this? Well, perhaps that’s because you haven’t watched the first episode of Naagin, Season 6, Colors TV, producer Ekta Kapoor’s cure for her nation of ailing people, besieged and beset by the coronavirus pandemic.
What does she have that we and others don’t? Er, well, first of all she has at her disposal a brilliant young scientist, ‘Professor’, who is made of such stern stuff he can walk the icy, snow-capped mountains of his abode in a mere jacket, trousers and regular shoes.
In 2019, he summons saints of all faiths to warn that he has seen something awful coming our way in 2020 that will “change everything”.
“Kya dekha?” ask the bewildered wise women and men. Flashback to the professor in his laboratory in the middle of some abstruse calculation that ends up with the figure ‘2020’. A strong breeze blows and as the professor looks out of the window, a broken shooting star flashes across the sky. Consulting his charts, he discovers the awful truth: the last time such a phenomenon took place, ‘mahamaari hui thhi’.
See, it was all written in the stars, we just didn’t know where to look!
A pandemic stares the good professor in the face but what form will it take? He sets off in search of answers to the temple on high, braving snow storms and treacherous terrain with the nimbleness of a deer—remember, this is a supernatural sci-fi series where anyone can do anything.
Let’s skip the part where a tiger stalking the entrance to the temple is summarily dismissed by a naagin and get to what the professor discovers: our enemy (guess who?) is going to attack us—not with arms or aeroplanes but with a ‘mahamaari’.
Here, the TV series pulls no punches: it identifies the enemy as ‘Chingistan’, which even a child of two would know refers to our LAC neighbour, although the characters look Eurasian—fooled you.
The evil enemy says it wants to spread the pandemic everywhere but more so in India. How will the disease be spread?
Here, Naagin will surprise you. Just when you are expecting to see virus droplets raining down on India, the scientists pull out test tubes of a blue liquid: `one drop will poison an entire river’, they claim.
And so it will come to pass — in 2020, the poison turns the rivers on the map of India red. Come to think of it, that isn’t all that far from the truth: in 2021, people died of the coronavirus and their bodies were found floating in the rivers.
Our prophetic ‘professor’ is asked for a solution to this deadly attack by the ‘enemy’. He finds it in the ‘shreshta naagin’, ‘icchadaari’ who will rise from ‘desh ki mitti’ to the strains of ‘Vande Mataram’ and save the country.
Those who are devoted viewers of the series will know that this is a completely new assignment for the naagin. Thus far, the naagin, in this popular TV show, would set out to punish those who had tried to ruin her life as a human being — or worse, tried to kill her. For the first time, she will be trying to save an entire nation, that too from a pandemic, and all by herself.
Worse, in previous seasons, our naagin knew the enemy; this time, there are 20 ‘desh drohi’ demons she has to identify, find and destroy.
But before all this happens, Naagin takes a detour to the present where your average girl, who happens to be very beautiful and goes by the name of Pratha, and army officer Rishabh have to meet and fall in love — the best way to do this is to get Rishabh fall off a cliff after an accident and for Pratha to try and save him. Which is exactly what happens. Possibly, our shreshta naagin will have to help the lovebirds before she saves the nation.
But that’s for later.
Even as Naagin ends on this cliffhanger, a character in Pandya Store (Star Plus) is bitten by a snake. Is this a good thing or bad?
When it gets too real
Of course Naagin is preposterous. But it’s not meant to be taken seriously so sit back and enjoy watching a naagin take on the pandemic and put your money on the naagin winning.
That a supernatural series seems alone in tackling the pandemic, two years after it changed our lives, says something very troubling about Indian entertainment television. It says that entertainment channels and TV producers want to steer clear of reality as much as they can. If you have been watching general entertainment channels like Star Plus, Sony, Zee and Colors in the last 24 months, you may not even know there is a pandemic.
All that glitters is Bappi Lahiri
Not everyone had closed their eyes to reality. Take Bappi Lahiri who passed away on Tuesday. During a 2020 interview with Republic TV, anchor Arnab Goswami asked him to sing a few lines. And the musician obliged.
What did he sing?
In that strong, full-bodied voice that wafted across the airwaves, lilting and tilting with the rhythm, he rang out, ‘It’s a tough time/We are all together/To fight corona’.
As news of his death made the headlines, Republic TV replayed parts of the interview while other news channels like India Today played some of his most memorable songs. And throughout the day, `I am a disco dancer’ trilled through your head.
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(Edited by Prashant)