So what precisely does one require to earn for oneself a PhD in India?
There are a number of ways which you could try. Firstly, you could use the usual way, that is, choose a subject and master it completely. Secondly, you could also try to familiarise yourself with one particular aspect of a subject very well. You will also need a sponsor and a professor who will be able to guide you through your thesis work.
However, if you are familiar with the popular 90’s show which used to be aired on Doordarshan, earning a PhD would seem like a completely different thing to you. Yes, I am talking about Jaspal Bhatti’s ever popular, Flop Show.
Flow Show would take several important socio-cultural difficulties faced by the common Indian man, and depict them in the form of satirical episodes. This is true for each and every one of the ten episodes of this show. The shooting of the show took place in Chandigarh, with some of its episode being shot at the Engineering College of Punjab, where Jaspal Bhatti was an alumnus. Although the cast remained pretty much the same, the people were seen enacting a different essay in each episode. Sometimes, they were even required to play diverse roles in one episode!
Coming back to the topic of a PhD. A hilarious example of the kind of show performed by Mr. Bhatti would be the narration of the way in which the acquiring of a PhD was depicted. The main aim of the PhD student was to keep the professor pleased, as opposed to concentrating on the subject chosen. The student would be made to perform all kinds of menial tasks, such as waking up at unearthly hours to run errands for the professor and his wife (like getting milk). He was even made to visit the market place and buy things for the household by the professor’s wife. In case of a poor student, he had to make his tea in a beaker over the Bunsen Burner as well!
While this all seems like a narration of hilarious events, the show did try to focus on real issue. Jaspal Bhatti aimed to bring these problems to the forefront and make people notice them through comedy. First aired in the year 1989, Flop Show was both written and directed by Jaspal Bhatti himself. The man himself also starred in each one of the ten episodes which could be seen in Doordarshan. The producer of the show, Savita Bhatti, was none other than the great comedian’s wife, and she was also the one who played his onscreen wife on the show. The problems faced by an ordinary Indian were what were shown on the serial. Although this lasted for only ten episodes, it was enough to make an impact on the audience and it was soon rated as a popular favorite.
The show itself was meant to be a hilarious mockery, rather than a serious satire. Therefore, at the beginning of every show there was always a devotional song which was directed at the person or group of people who were going to be mocked on that particular episode. This was a very intelligent and indirect way of informing the audience that the entire show was a farce. The majority of the cast of Flop Show enacts the role of an instrumental band which sits in the background and plays music, while the main actor, Jaspal Bhatti appears wearing an eye patch and pretending to be a threatening director. The remaining cast members dress up as various other characters, like doctors, peons, police inspectors, etc.
At the end of the show there would be a particular Hindi song playing, but the words would be changed to suit the purpose of the show. This allowed the makers of the show to caustically point out the short comings of various people in a hilarious way. At the time during which this show was released in the industry, Jaspal Bhatti’s Flop Show was immensely interesting and drew the attention of the audience and critics alike.
The allegations made by the actors on Flop Show, were those against people in their everyday lives. Management bureaucrats wee shown sitting through pointless meetings all day and professors were shown as a pain, rather than a source of guidance. Through his effortless humor, Jaspal Bhatti, put across his points and criticized the system without really making it ugly. This is the way in which media can be used to influence the everyday lives of people. Jaspal Bhatti’s Flop Show is the perfect example of a show which motivates people indirectly to take a stand. He pointed a finger at all the wrong doings in the industry and the late humorist made caustic remarks regarding all the things depicted on his show. None were spared from his caustic tongue. Flop Show was a really unique and revolutionary show. Without saying much or having to overact, the veteran comedian got his point across and did so coherently.
The death of the actor came as a sudden and unfortunate shock to most. The actor was mourned by many and for a long time and was even awarded the Padma Bhushan posthumously in the year 2013. Those who have succeeded him have never been able to surpass the standard of comedy set by this brilliant man, and it is not likely that anyone will be able to in today’s day and age. The award was rightly given to this man who through his serial Flop Show, made people aware of the kind of problems faced by the daily man.