By Nidhi Kinhal
“Aaj kal zindagi bemazaa ho jaa rahi. Kai ko bole toh tarkaariyaan.” (These days, life is turning sulky. The reason being vegetables.) That’s how the latest news report of the Deccani Urdu news channel, Real Telangana TV, starts off. A female news reporter in a hijab, a matter-of-fact tone, and a satirical script — everything is unlikely and miraculous about it.
The news report has no ill-tempered anchors, absurd hashtags or poll questions, nor does it report on seemingly mighty issues of foreign policy, diplomacy, media, or coalitions. At least not in the way we’re used to. Many people who work at Real Telangana TV are pukka Hyderabadis, from the working class, and so, they write about matters they truly care about and are intimately affected by. Something that is hardly addressed usually, is first on list.
Hyderabad’s vegetable consumption weighs heavily towards tomatoes and onions, Real Telangana TV tells us. “Magar yeh dono sabziyaan bebharosa hai.” (“But these two vegetables are not trustworthy.”) Sometimes, they’re like the local leader, “galee-galee ke ho jaate.” (“They belong to every street”). “Kabhi election mein theherke ittefaakh se jeete toh, pahunch se baahar ho jaana waale leader ke jaisa ho jaate.” (“Sometimes, they become like the leader who, after coincidentally winning the elections, goes out of reach.”)
Tomatoes are an object to be seen from a distance now, the reporter says. Quite like Narendra Modi, apparently. The channel’s ability to critique leaders (even Donald Trump), inform us on the government’s progress, and establish a humorous correlation with their daily hassles is quite remarkable. It’s quite coincidental (or not, we’ll let you decide), they say, that as soon as Modi steps out of the country, tomato prices rise and the vegetable exit homes. Even beans, aloo (potatoes), and brinjals have their own “nakhre” (tantrums).
“Sab achha chal raha tha,” they say. (“Everything was going fine”). Tomatoes were sold at Rs. 10 per kilo. Just as he reached America, “yahaan tamaata apni shaan dikhane lage. Achaanak chaalees rupaye kilo bikne laga.” (“Here, the tomatoes began to show off. Suddenly, they rose to 40 rupees per kilo.”) He travelled across three countries, and tomatoes were at 60 rupees a kilo. Now, with his Israel to Germany transition, “tamaate ko aur jalan hoke sau rupaye kilo ho jaata ki kya hai ki.” (“Tomatoes grew jealous and are now at 100 rupees, what to say.”)
In another report, they mentioned: “Humich haule hai, jo unka matlab nahi samjhe. Achhe dinaa unho unke aane waale hain, bole the.” (“We were the foolish ones who didn’t understand what he meant. He meant that his ‘good days’ are coming.”) After all, they just want simple joys. On hearing the Congress leaders’ claims that these international visits have yielded no fruit at all, the reporter says, “Faayda hua. Nahi hua. Yeh toh humaare ko nahi maaloom. Tamaate saste ho gaye toh bus hai.” (“Whether they were useful or not, we don’t know. If the tomato prices come down, that’s enough for us.”)
Watch their refreshing, witty news broadcast here: