Discovery Jeet, the nouveau offering from Discovery Communications, has made a noticeable splash in the swarming sea of general entertainment channels. According to certain independent ratings and data analytics organizations, Discovery Jeet has garnered impressive launch numbers in urban areas. As the channel finds its feet on the slippery-slip that is the Indian TV landscape, we, at IndianWikiMedia, subjected it to close scrutiny on behalf of our readers.
As is our wont, and also our raison d’être, here is our honest-to-goodness review of the melange of shows that makes up Discovery Jeet’s repertoire-
Baba Ramdev: Ek Sangharsh
Who would have thought that a show could have been made on Baba Ramdev, the maverick Yoga guru? And a prime time one, at that! It takes gumption, if not guts, to showcase a decidedly rustic and slow-paced biographical account of a celibate sanyaasi in the prime time slot, a slot where it will have to jostle for space with well-loved, albeit typical, saas-bahu sagas. Will this gutsy gamble of co-producers, Ajay Devgn Film Productions and Watergate Productions, pay off? Only time will tell.
As of now, the show appears pretty decent, boasting high-quality production values and some inspired performances by the actors, especially Naman Jain, who plays the young Ramkishan. The older version will be played by Kranti Prakash Jha, who’s already impressed one and all with his flawless mannerisms, perfect guise and intense enactment of the Baba, as seen from the rushes of the show.
What niggles is the pace of the show. It is painfully slow, with a humungous amount of viewing time dedicated to establishing the hostility, ostracism and discrimination faced by the low-caste Ramkishan and his family at the hands of the patriarchal head priest and high-caste villagers. Well, with its slated run of 85 episodes (cough….splutter!), the slow pace is a given. The rest of the episodes will understandably cover the stratospheric rise of the Baba– from outcast, to head honcho of an FMCG behemoth.
The show has the blessings of the yoga guru himself; hence, we expect it to be an all-out ode to the Baba, even while it stays miles away from the controversies in his life; which makes us think that it may appeal only to Patanjali fanboys. What say?
Mere Papa Hero Hiralal
A rickshawalla who drives his rickshaw along with taking care of his daughter- déjà vu? Obviously, because Mere Papa Hero Hiralal is based on the true account of the rickshawallah who drove his rickshaw with his tiny, motherless daughter in his lap, a story that was plastered all over the papers, some time ago.
However, unlike that spunky tale, this show sorely lacks spunk and spark, despite having the touching tale of a father-daughter duo at its heart. The story revolves around Hiralal Tewari, an auto-rickshaw driver and his poignant love for his daughter, Gungun. While Hiralal is played by Sarwar Ahuja, plucky youngster Riva Arora plays the role of Gungun.
The actors fail to lift the show beyond ho-hum. Average is how we would rate it; though, with the fanfare preceding the launch of the channel and its shows, we expected way better than average. The pace is slow; the plot, drudging and unimaginative; and the acting– nothing to sing hosannas about. Even the storyline is ordinary. The hospital scenes in the initial episodesare reminiscent of the seminal ‘Life Is Beautiful’, though that is where the comparison ends.
To put it succinctly, Mere Papa Hero Hiralal disappoints. We hope it gets better as time goes by.
21 Sarfarosh: Saragarhi 1897
This story of outstanding bravery and courage deserves treatment, direction and performances of outstanding merit and class. So, does 21 Sarfarosh: Saragarhi 1897 deliver on those counts? Partly yes, and partly no, we think.
This stirring account–of a handful of British Indian army stalwarts fighting 10,000 ferocious Afghani tribesmen till their very last breath–stands tall in the annals of history as an epitome of the astounding scope of human courage and spirit. On that account, it is a story that speaks to every Indian on a very visceral level. And it is this stellar story that works in favour of the show. Because, which Indian wouldn’t be moved by this saga of our countrymen’s courage in the face of adversity? After all, we Indians are suckers for patriotic narratives.
Mohit Raina, as Havildar Ishar Singh, has put his heart and soul, his very life-essence, into enacting the brave warrior. Perhaps he knows it is an once-in-a-lifetime role, larger in scale than ever before; potentially dwarfing his turn as Mahadev. His Punjabi dialect is perfect as punch. Mukul Dev is an astonishingly apt choice as the brutishly malevolent tribal head, Gul Badshah. He has truly outdone himself this time. Both actors have put in a lot of effort in getting the nuances of their characters right, and it shows.
The show could do with a bit of speeding up. It really is too slow. That being said, it scores on all major counts. Raj Acharya’s riveting direction, AseemArora’s powerful dialogues and Abhishek Basu’s spell-binding photography enthral. Oh, and yes, the carefully-chosen locales are picture-perfect. To put it in a few words, we like!
Anjaan: Special Crimes Unit
Anjaan is ostensibly a show that deals with paranormal happenings and how its lead investigators get to the heart of the strange events taking place around them. The show features HeenaParmar as Aditi and Gashmeer Mahajani as Vikrant.
Billed as the X-Files of Indian television, Anjaan is nowhere near that ground-breaking American show that explored the realm of unexplained phenomena, way before it became fashionable to narrate paranormal tales of horror.
It is, in fact, nowhere near Zee Horror Show, Aahat or any one of the cult horror shows of Indian TV’s celebrated past.
That said, Anjaan does have a certain compelling quality to it, which keeps viewers entranced by the goings-on. Paranormal activity has captivated humans for ever, and this show is no different. Both lead actors have given measured performances, lending understated refinement, believability and credibility to the narrative.
The show is remarkably watchable and a welcome relief from the unending, simpering-savitri-scheming-sirensagas that are the bane of Indian TV. We recommend a ‘do watch’, if not a ‘must-watch’, for Anjaan!
Comedy High School
This is a comedy show, as the name suggests, with the adorable Ram Kapoor playing Principal of the Comedy High School. He must save the school from imminent closure, by ensuring that the school gets a 100% pass result, a tall order what with several students having failed the seventh standard for twenty straight years!
The theme-based comedy non-fiction has a motley crew of performers goofing around and playing silly, some as the overgrown students, some as staff members, and also a dead trustee-turned-ghost, thrown in for good measure. Celebs visit the school every episode to try to trouble-shoot and solve matters for the Principal. In an admirable coup, the first episode had Salman Khan visiting. That in itself must have notched up quite a few eyeballs for the show.
So, what about the quality of the comedy? Well, in our opinion, the comedy leaves a lot to be desired. What should essentially be the star of the show– the omnipotent script– seems more like an afterthought. If the show has to survive, the makers should rustle up a better scriptwriter, pronto. Or stand to lose eyeballs, coz fickle audiences won’t stick around for long.
Unlike the other shows, Comedy High School is a weekender, which is a good thing to avoid overkill. This is a strictly ok show in our opinion, which may sound rude to some, but hey, that’s the way the wind blows!
Khan No. 1
Inspector Khan is an affable police officer with an uncanny ability to sniff out lies and scams like a shark sniffs out blood. That’s Khan No. 1 for you, a true-to-life show that features fictional accounts of scams, frauds, swindles and con-jobs that have taken place in the real world.Special 26, anyone? Shows dealing with crime are a dime a dozen on TV- think Crime Patrol, Savdhan India, etc. what sets Khan No 1 apart is that it exclusively covers scams and cons, and not violent crimes, like the others.
Actor Rajesh Sharma plays the titular role of Inspector Khan, as he takes us through the pages of bygone scam stories from the real world. This is one actor we’d love to see more of, and we’re delighted that he accepted this role. He rocks in the part of the police officer, studding his acting chops with gems– a hint of humour here, a touch of cynicism there, and we’re hooked!
The unassuming Rohan Sippy, a past master at bringing bluffs alive for the big screen, with Bluffmaster, is behind this unique offering, and we’re mighty glad for it too. This weekend show is quirky, fascinating and a delight to watch. Go for it, guys!
Gabru: Hip-Hop Ke Shehzaade/ Man Vs Wild with Sunny Leone
While we were saving the best for last, with our reviews for Gabru: Hip-Hop Ke Shehzaade and Man Vs Wild with Sunny Leone, the best in the bevy of Discover Jeet shows in our opinion, we’re sad to say that both these shows have been yanked off by the channel from this week.
We hope these shows will make a comeback in the coming months, as promised by the channel. We’ll definitely get back to you with their reviews, as and when they make an appearance.
In the meanwhile, we wish you hours of blissful TV watching, courtesy Discovery Jeet, the newest kid on the TV block!
(Written by Rashmi Paharia)