Monday, 20 August 2007
The TV Times
India With Sanjeev Bhaskar, Monday, 9pm, BBC2
You know when you’re in the pub with someone you don’t know very well and they say something ridiculous, and you shoot your friends a look that says “okaaaay - weirdo”? You know the look. The one with the raised eyebrows. That’s it. Well, India With Sanjeev Bhaskar is exactly like that look, except it’s directed at an entire country, across an entire series.
Our host, basically a middle class white man from Islington trapped inside an Indian’s body, swaggers around the subcontinent royally taking the piss out of everything, only managing to temper things slightly by being ‘fascinated’ and ‘amazed’ along the way.
It’s the sly nature of Bhaskar’s mockery that grates. Meeting the Maharaja? Be nice to him in person, then make a ‘wry aside’ to camera about his stupid castle. Spending time with camel herders? Don’t forget to make them look stupid: ask them questions like “how long have you had a relationship with this camel?“, and make witty comments into your microphone about their stupid, shitty milk.
Then it’s the actual, raised-brow, ‘DID YOU SEE THAT, TELEVISION?’ looks to camera that Bhaskar gives when someone does something really stupid, like, say, offers ritual deference, that really become annoying. You can see the mischievous glint in his eye every time someone who isn’t as posh, educated or just plain English as him comes within fifteen feet. ‘Pfft, see that guy? Bowing before me he was, PILLOCK! Am I right, eh, viewers? Yeah.’
To be fair to the rest of the production team, the programme is beautifully shot and does offer some insight into the crazy, magical, colourful world of India. Interviews with locals, when not interspersed with Bhaskar’s inane ‘quips‘, reveal stories full of history and humour. It really is an amazing excursion. Which makes it more of a shame that the tour guide is such a twat.