It's My Life but it's Raveena Tandon's downfall
It's My Life might be the newest avatar of the celeb show Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai. But what's in a name? Nothing. It's all in the host as Raveena Tandon, the new host, sadly proves over and over again.
Being Easter, it is the time for resurrection, at least for television programmes and their celebrity hosts. So at the beginning of this month, NDTV 24X7 decided to launch its almost brand new celebrity show, It’s My Life. The show is simply the renamed version of an earlier programme called Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai which used to be hosted by Farooq Shaikh and later Suresh Oberoi and Roshan Abbas on Zee TV from 2002.
The programme format of the earlier version, much like this one, was pretty simple. A celebrity is invited to the show. And his friends, family and colleagues are invited on to give a little bit of a dekko into his life. Very vanilla. No masala. Which was actually the charm of the show. It was all very Ren and Stimpy: happy happy, joy joy. No one says anything untoward or even slightly controversial to the celebrity guest.
No leaning across a table and asking, “So did you feel really sad when your father dropped dead at the dining table, or just a little blue?” or “Was life nicer when you weren’t bankrupt and drowning yourself in alcohol?”. What made the programme fun to watch was the affable and dignified Farooq Shaikh, who is a fabulous raconteur and had an ease of communicating with the guest and the audience, maybe because of his theatrical experience. He would pull their leg, narrate an interesting incident or two and maintain a certain bonhomie on the set.
Despite never having worked or known most of the guests, Shaikh always had an interesting tid-bit or two to share about them. The ease with which Shaikh carried forward a conversation with guests as diverse as Shah Rukh Khan, MF Hussain, Vijay Mallya and even the current host, Raveena Tandon, was what held your interest.
Speaking of the current host, since the programme in its NDTV version has stuck to the same format, it’s clear the host maketh or breaketh a show. And the cracks are already showing.
Now Raveena, it seems, has been looking for a resurrection for a while. She first took the oh-so-natural step for a non-Bengali speaking Hindi film actress of doing a stint in Bengali jatra last year with Ratnadeep Opera and their production, Rupsagarer Rupasi which has also cast other notable thespians like Monica Bedi. She then connected a little more with the people when she campaigned for the Congress in the UP elections. And we all know how that turned out. Hopefully the studio audience will be a little kinder to Raveena in her new avatar.
The last two episodes which I watched had Boman Irani and Ajay Devgn, he of the missing vowel in his surname, as the celebrity guests. Boman is a fabulous conversationalist, so he kept the chatter light and easy. His life’s been very interesting, especially his mother’s role in encouraging his love for the cinema. And his friends are fun. Dia Mirza came on and narrated why he’s like a dad to her. His mother spoke very lovingly about him. You got a tear in your eye. There was a dash of drama when you noticed that Arshad Warsi who had been on the stage all the while, suddenly disappeared as soon as Mirza, his ex-inamorata made an appearance. But it was all pleasant and a daisies-in-the-field kind of experience. What stuck out like a sore thumb was Raveena, who either swung between being over-familiar with Boman Irani or only mouthing platitudes which added nothing to the episode. I felt she might be out of her depth because Boman isn’t someone she’s worked with and he’s older. And maybe she’d rather burst into “Yeh cheese badi hai mast mast” like in her jatra performance. The reasons could be many.
So I felt last night’s episode with Anaconda Devgn would be more up her alley. He’s her contemporary, she’s acted with him, she knows all the guests – from co-stars like Sanju baba and Tusshar Kapoor to his wife and friends. But oh no, was I wrong. Every time the camera focused on Devgn or one of his guests, you could see Raveena in the background staring at her hand-held cue cards, memorising what was written on them. Of course even I might have been a little disoriented after seeing Devgn being led on by a dancing girl dressed like she’d just stepped out of The Arabian Nights. The show pretty much went downhill from there. Devgn himself spoke 5 sentences at best and otherwise displayed his full range of three expressions which we see on screen. What his friends like Sanju baba said was impossible to decipher, and when Raveena wasn’t reading her cards she was channelling her jatra self by talking like a tapori for some odd reason. Or cheering the audience on by loudly repeating either, “Ajay, Ajay, Ajay” or “gaana, gaana, gaana” to make Devgn sing, which after all her efforts, he refused.
Forget singing. The problem with a reticent guest is that if the host can’t make them start talking, all you’re left with is a bunch of almost beautiful people, all gathered on one stage. That does not make for very riveting television viewing, especially if the beautiful people have nothing interesting to say. Going by the fact that she’s acted with Devgn one would think that she’d have been able to add an anecdote or two, but that was expecting too much.
The next episode has Karan Johar on as the guest and Kajol will be back in the studio as well as his ‘best friend, yaa”. Maybe Karan will be kind and give Raveena a helping hand and self-host instead. Or we’ll soon have to follow the advice of wise man Dr Alban, the creator of the show’s moniker - “It’s my life – take it or leave it”.
Rajyasree Sen is a bona fide foodie, culture-vulture and unsolicited opinion-giver. In case you want more from her than her opinions, head to www.foodforthoughtindia.blogspot.com and order some delicious food from her catering outfit. If you want more of her opinions then follow her at @rajyasree