MTV - on its arrival in India - taught us two seminal things. One, it was possible to crack all your canteen jokes on television. Two, there are potentially infinite ways of depicting the letter M.
The second realisation stemmed from the pioneering MTV concept of inane fillers. Having been brought up on educational fillers like 'Mile Sur Mera Tumhara' and 'Ek Anek', the fact that a worm can eat up a green field in the shape of a M (and then have mushrooms in the shape of TV at the edge) was quite revolutionary.
The first one was even more so. After spending a lifetime of being looked down upon, many proponents of bad humour suddenly woke up to the fact that a profession awaits them as a Programming Manager at MTV. Or Channel V.
Armed with these two new-found pearls of wisdom, our generation gave up their reticence, talked long and loud, shook up television and started to be called the MTV generation. I am sure kids of today are being called YouTube Gen or something more cutting edge than Cyrus Broacha's humour!
In fact, Cyrus Broacha is a lot like Sachin Tendulkar. He was a boy genius and carried off several shows like no other, redefined VJing but is now a little tired and there are more interesting kids on the block. His namesake, among others!
It is an irony that MTV became the iconic name - while for most part of the last decade and a half, it was Channel [V] who out-MTVed MTV in inane jokes, crazy VJs and general derring do! Though nowadays, MTV is a reborn channel and is matching V wit for wit, twit for twit!
The earliest memory of inanity, I think, is Quick Gun Murugan who mixed Sergio Leone, Rajnikanth and Saravana Bhavan in a hilarious concoction as he ordered 'One Whisky, One Masala Dosa' and pioneered a genre called 'Sambhar Western'. The Tamil movies were spoofed like never before for their garish costumes, hyperbolic dialogue and obese heroes! And no jokes on that, mind it!
Even before the Northies had finished laughing at the joke, came Udham Singh. Supposedly, to do booth-capturing for some poll on V, he made the Haryanvi accent super-cool as he spewed earthy wisdom ('Jiski lathi, uski bhnais') as he lounged on his charpai with a - you guessed it - well-oiled lathi! He became popular enough to be retained as a VJ - beyond the promos of the poll!
And the man behind these monstrosities is Shashanka Ghosh - who extended his wackiness from 21 inches to 70 mm as he directed Waisa Bhi Hota Hain Part II, which was a brilliant mix of wackiness and music (Remember 'Allah ke bande'?).
Both MTV and V gave the Hindi film song a twist never seen before. Brought up on a diet of Chitrahaar (Wednesday - Hindi songs) and Chitramala (Thursday - regional songs), we just gasped when the twists came along.
For example - we were conditioned that in the week preceding Holi, Chitrahaar will play songs from Silsila and Namak Haram. I was quite tickled to find that MTV had a unique take on the festival. Instead of a Holi theme, they had a 'Oli theme! And they played songs about Koli (the Sailaab song), Goli (the climax song from Sholay), Doli (some sad wedding song) and Choli (from Khalnayak)! Mindblowing!
In the context of the Hindi film song on music channels, it would be criminal not to mention Jaaved Jaffrey. One of the most under-utilised comedians of our times, Jaaved combined his amazing talents as a mimic to his brilliant timing as a comic - in two shows.
One was Videocon Flashback, in which he took a music director every week and showed some of his best songs interspersed with hilarity.
The second was called Timex Timepass - which was compered by a host of alter egos, all played by Jaaved. Of the many characters, I can remember a Tamil psychiatrist (Analysis Anandan) and his sandalwood smuggler twin (Venegance Veerappan), a Sindhi rap artist (Hip Hop Hingorani), an Anglo-Indian fortune-teller (Future Furtado), a Nepali lyricist (Sherpa Sultanpuri) and a Parsi hitman (Sohrab Supari). Of course, my favourite was an Muslim coffee-shop owner - Cafe Azmi!
In between, was the first ever music reality show - Popstars. And the nation was hooked on to the fortunes of Viva, long before Silchar Assam ke Debojit and Sanjaya Malakar of Mohawk hair fame!
There was Masala Mix - a dubbing of Western music videos with Hindi songs of questionable quality. So, you had Madonna dancing to 'You are my Fish Fry, You are my Chicken Fry / Kabhi na kehna kudiye bye bye bye' - and they made it sound as if she sang it in the first place!
There was a Bakra - which made a cottage industry of making asses (goats?) of people. Two things stand out.
One, not letting any one get away - not even celebrities. In a famous episode, Cyrus got a 'crazed fan' to propose marriage to Rahul Dravid who promptly called in her father. To his horror, the father endorsed the proposal.
Two, they outsourced the lead players by soliciting applications from people who wanted to play a prank on someone in their friends' circle! Damn, I think I will write in...
And there was Cheeto Chat - which is the entire point of this post, thanks to this request. A desi version of Pop Up Video, it had a smart alec Cheeto running across the bottom of the screen feeding us apparently connected factoids.
Sample: They showed a song from Jaanbaaz (not THAT one!) with Anil Kapoor and Dimple Kapadia. And the factoid sequence went something like this :-
* The hero of this song is Anil Kapoor.
* He has two brothers - Boney and Sanjay.
* Boney is a producer. Sanjay is also an actor.
* Another set of brothers in Bollywood is Sunny & Bobby Deol.
* Dimple Kapadia's first film was Bobby. She had an affair with Sunny Deol.
* She is also the heroine of this song.
No wonder we loved each one of them... After all, we are like this only!
With Semi Girebaal and Lola Kutty, the wackiness continues 24 hours a day, 7 days a week - at a television screen near you. Enjoy!
PS: Mind it!