Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Review: Noooooooh Beengoh!

Noooooooh Beengoh! (Bollywood meets the Simpsons)

One versus One Hundred, Dancing with Stars, Deal or No Deal, Big Brother and Australian Idol just a few of the shows to hit our screens over the past several years, most with relative success (and most carbon copies from our cousins across the Pacific). Personally, I find them all uninteresting in some way or another, with no “intelligent” appeal whatsoever. Sadly, to whichever channel you switch, you will either have to put up with it or resort to the same old American trash detective shows or simply switch off the TV set. But it’s not always a simple matter of taking that option. Most average households have at least one if not two television sets and its on most of the time.

But now I have seen it all, a new gimmick, National Bingo Night on Channel Seven. What the? The whole concept is ridiculous and having seen the first show the actual premise is absolute ‘shite’ as they say in the business. However, my topic of discussion today, is not the gigantic lotto machine with beach balls, or the hostess who has to bend down to reach for the balls every time or the fairly lame uncharismatic host. The thing that has me in a knot is the way that you have to wait for some guy in an American grid iron umpire’s uniform, calling out in a fake Indian accent, noooooooh beengoh! It is a tad cheesy and tasteless, and not to mention politically incorrect, especially since the actual person in that role is a Bangladeshi psychiatrist named Tanveer, whose real voice is a somewhat wanky North Shore Australian accent.

Tanveer describes himself as a “non-practicing Muslim” and he speaks, writes and sometimes makes comments on Islamic issues ranging from terrorism and national security to Lebanese crime and identity. Tanveer is a very unique person and has placed himself in a position of trust, respect and authority, especially on matters concerning Islam. He is often invited to conferences to give his opinion on Islam in Australia. His quirky sense of humour has alienated himself from certain segments of the Muslim communities. This is probably too harsh a treatment for someone who has some very admirable traits and is only doing what he believes is in his own best interests. He has challenged many aspects of Islam and been highly critical of Lebanese Muslims. Of course, Tanveer is quite free to express his opinions and he is in his own rights if he wishes to make believe on national television but he must then also be willing to accept criticism in the same vain that he often dishes out.

If not for his “non-practicing” epithet I would have had a go at him for being a on a program which is essentially is simplified gambling. This is a grave sin in itself but I am not judging him on this as he has clearly distanced himself from Islamic principles and beliefs. But there is one thing regardless of his religious practice that really takes the cake, and that is the fact that he is a Bangladeshi Australian bunging on a ridiculously bad impression of Apu (from the Simpsons), even Apu is better at impersonating an Indian.

The question is about ethics. The Kumars at No. 42 do much the same and they mock Indians but they are Indian and they clearly set the parameters that the show is “not real” and the cast are in fact actors. The Wogs Out of Work crew did the same they were not meant to be themselves but actors. Yet, in national Bingo the host and hostess are themselves and the contestants are themselves so why an Indian mascot? Why not Chinese, Greek or Jewish? I am not placing the blame on Tanveer for he is just an actor but on the show’s creators and producers. It just perpetuates stereotypes and shows a very poor level of racial understanding and development in this country. If the show is to continue, most Australian audiences like sincerity and no gimmicks, so what the producers have to re-think is how do we entertain audiences without the shallow and gratuitous gags. I think if they tried they could easily succeed.

For now, one star for the show minus half for the host and minus another star for the “noooooh beengoh” grid iron umpire. Please channel Seven what next?

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