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Much happened in the world of pop culture in 2015. Playboy decided to become sanskaari and announced that it would no longer print nudes. Congress supporters decided to go semi-nude to protest against Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, blinding unsuspecting bystanders. PETA showed it had no sense of humour and expressed great dismay that Ranveer Singh had beaten up a rubber shark in a banian ad. R.K. Pachauri decided that he would only control the climate and not his baser instincts. And Maggi got banned and slandered, and then returned with different tasting noodles and a slew of dodgy advertisements.

Sadly, such entertainment was missing from the idiot box in 2015. Largely forgettable, it did have its moments though. It began with Bigg Boss getting its first—and seemingly last—female anchor, Farah Khan. And ended with Comedy Nights With Kapil announcing its break-up with Colors. I’ve racked my brains trying to find momentous moments of television, and here’s my list of those which stood out for me—for being either utterly good or horrendously bad.

First was our very own brown-girl-in-the-rain Priyanka Chopra, who crossed over from Indian cinema and was cast in American TV show Quantico as the main lead. Quantico had Chopra playing an FBI agent and had its own share of action, sex and poor logic. Kudos to Chopra for helming a prime time show in the US, that too one in which her ethnicity was not of importance. This was a series which could have had a Caucasian, African, Latino or Chinese lead actress. But our Piggy Chops landed the gig. Also, applause for being the only Indian actress to stop pretending to be holier than thou and being willing to portray a normal woman who kisses and has sex. I’m still waiting to see whether the FBI will catch up with Priyanka Chopra before her accent does. But hats off to Chopra for showing our actresses the way—and for not becoming lily white for her character. She’s brown and proud of it on the show. Are you listening Rohit Shetty and Kajol?

Second, we got our first “curated" home-grown English entertainment channel in the form of Colors Infinity. This is the first time I’ve heard of an entertainment channel being curated by anyone. And this one was curated by Karan Johar and his ingénue, Alia Bhatt. It all started off well, and we got shows like Orange Is The New Black and The Big C and My Kitchen Rules, but it’s all gone downhill from there. They’ve run out of new seasons of shows and frankly Zee Café HD, Star World Premiere, HBO and FX are doing a better job. But it was an interesting concept.

Third, and this is one of my favourites, is that in April we learnt that TV has hit an all-time low. Why? Because the new season of Nach Baliye 7 began and along with Preity Zinta and choreographer Marzi Pastonji as judges, we had—hold your breath, cue drumroll, dance and entertainment expert—Chetan Bhagat. This was as good as Jeffrey Archer or Dan Brown or J.K. Rowling judging Dancing With The Stars. So what did best-selling author Bhagat know about dancing? Not much. But if he knows anything, it’s about how to market himself and increase his erudite reader base. This was a big moment for IIT graduates—move over Arvind Kejriwal, now IITians can hope to shake a leg on Nach Baliye.

Fourth, and this is truly worth commending, was Deepika Padukone appearing on NDTV 24X7 to talk about how she suffers from clinical depression. This was path-breaking on many levels. Here was one of the leading actresses of the time, admitting to a psychological problem without shame, and doing so not to promote a film. In an industry famed for pretending to have no foibles—no one is an alcoholic, no one has marital problems, and no one has any mental or emotional instability—Padukone deserves a round of applause. She spoke in detail about how she realised she was clinically depressed, what treatment she took, how anyone can suffer from depression however beautiful or successful they are. This was a genuine case of a celebrity using her celebrity status for good.

The fifth, though, and just in case we get too spoiled and look at our celebrities goggle-eyed, Salman Khan and NDTV brought us crashing back to earth. Following the release of Bajrangi Bhaijaan, on NDTV’s The Black Buck Stops Here, sorry I meant The Buck Stops Here, Salman Khan was the main guest. Not to be interviewed about his love for driving in a driverless car which randomly runs over people or for his love for black bucks. He was there to advise Pakistani/Indian girl Geeta on coming back to India. The show was headlined with the hashtag #SalmanForGeeta. What makes Salman an expert on relocation of missing and found adults and cross-border relations? Don’t be silly, stupid. He acted in a film on it. Obviously that makes him an expert. This was the most ridiculous PR-driven spiel I’d seen in the entire year. And let’s not forget that this is many months before he was acquitted, but it’s never too early for whitewashing to begin.

My final resounding memory from TV and which was the unkindest cut of them all was the opening episode of Bigg Boss 9. Along with a slew of “stars" who would be locked up in the Bigg Boss house, we had three guests on the episode. Were these former contestants? Actors? Friends of Salman? No. These were three journalists— Dibanng, “senior journalist" at ABP News; Shweta Singh, Aaj Tak executive editor, special programming; and Saurav Sharma, India TV’s senior executive producer and anchor. Our answer to Bernstein, Woodward and Amanpour spent the entire episode questioning the contestants about how they’d look after themselves in the house, would they miss their families and so on. Hard-hitting stuff, this. It gave the concept of embedded journalism new meaning. The contestants have little choice but to participate in reality TV, but you would think editors would have better and more important things to do than sit and question contestants on Bigg Boss, but no. And Bigg Boss hasn’t stopped embarrassing journalists since the first episode. A month back, CNN IBN’s Karma Paljor was beamed in to ask the contestants questions about their stint in Bigg Boss. In his defence though, he works for the same network as Colors and this is an occupational hazard, and one which he looked most embarrassed about.

So there it is. The moments that rocked my world this year. The good thing is that 2016 can only be better.

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