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News-comedy shows seek to make an impact

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The Bottom Line, a fortnightly on NDTV Prime, presents well-informed opinions on current topics through comedy

In a country where even perceived slights can lead to riots, it is not an easy task to conceptualise a news-based satire show without stepping on a few toes.

After Cyrus Broacha’s successful show ‘The Week That Wasn’t’ on CNN-IBN, Sorabh Pant, whose stock as a stand-up comedian has been on the rise, has begun his own show, ‘The Bottom Line’, a fortnightly news-comedy show on NDTV Prime, along with five other stand-up comics.

“It is a funny news-based show that picks up topics that youngsters in social media talk and care about — violence against women, discrimination against people from the northeast in India, economy — and satirises them,” he says.

The first couple of episodes that were aired have already lived up to the promise by shedding light on a range of issues: resignation of Aam Aadmi Party’s Yogendra Yadav, Indian ministers speaking in Hindi to their foreign counterparts, the Afghani elections and other contemporary issues. “We wanted to avoid slapstick comedy, you know, where hosts mimic popular real-life characters. We wanted to present well-informed opinions through comedy.”

Ask him about the general criticism that Indian satire websites and satire shows attract, and Sorabh defends his tribe. While comparisons with popular stand- up comics from the West such as John Oliver, John Stewart and Bill Maher is inevitable, he says that Indian comics are forced to tread cautiously because of the threat of defamation suits.

The comedian says that stand up comedy offers more freedom than a television show. “When you are doing live stand-up comedy, you don't have to think so much; you can swear and the audience will laugh. In television shows, you have to think of cleverer ways to convey the message,” he says.

When asked whether The Bottom Line’s content would be skewed to suit the political preferences of those behind the show, Sorabh says it would be balanced. “There was a lot of thinking behind what kind of political positions the show must take and we finally decided that we would consider every issue separately," he says.

Does he believe that news-based satire shows will have takers in the long run in India? “I am confident that the show will go on as long as we don’t get sued,” he laughs.

The Bottom Line will be on NDTV Prime every alternate Thursday at 10 p.m.

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Another reality show returns to small screen following popular demand. ‘Odi Vilaiyaadu Paapa’, a dance show for children, aired on Kalaignar TV, will kick off from August 4.

The much-touted talent hunt show, which concluded three years ago, is now back to hone the dance skills of children aged between six and 12. Organisers said they had received over 2,000 applications from across the State and neighbouring states, including Kerala, for participation in season two of the show.

“We have shortlisted 60 children who will get a chance to perform in the introductory round. Choreographers Gayathri Raghuram and Ashok Raj will judge the show. We plan to rope in more celebrity judges like actor Srikanth in the coming episodes,” said an organiser.

Odi Vilaiyaadu Paapa, directed by ace choreographer Kala, will be aired from Mondays to Thursdays at 8.30 p.m.

(Reporting by Udhav Naig and K. Lakshmi)

chennaidesk@thehindu.co.in

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Printable version | Jan 30, 2020 2:45:48 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/chen-columns/newscomedy-shows-seek-to-make-an-impact/article6229297.ece

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