The New Prime Time: The 6pm Slot (Book Review)

Television has long stopped being interested in the business of communication. All it does is deliver audiences to advertisers. TRP is the king- people are just merchandise. 

One can't blame television entirely though. The fact that newspapers have a page two (and television doesn't) makes it all the more necessary for television to showcase even mundane news by airbrushing them to give them the "shock value".

The 6pm Slot by Naomi Datta is what television is all about today. The cover of The 6pm Slot belies its contents. It is in no way a chic-lit.  It is a serious novel delving into a serious issue. Naomi Datta's book manages to portray the nitty-gritty of television the way it presently is. The author's bio page tells that Naomi is a television producer, presenter and film writer all rolled into one. I am not surprised as a book like The 6pm Slot can only be written by an "insider". This book throws the reader into a world full of dirty tricks, titillation and manipulation that is so synonymous with the television industry.

The book has a chequered list of characters of myriad shades. Right from the naive producer (Tania) to the self- appointed messiah of "newsdom" (and everyone in between), Naomi has nailed it. The 6pm Slot takes us through Tania's journey who has been asked to work on a show involving an agony aunt (a babe actually). The brief is clear; make 6pm the new prime time. All that Tania has is a hot host and her brilliantly colorful English. But there is a problem: the panning of camera on various bronzed titillating body parts and nondescript problems of adolescents are not enough to hook the nation.

With the TRP sword hanging on Tania's head, she gives in to creating imaginary callers and their problems. One such brilliantly executed hoax spirals out of control when the nation almost exhausts its candle supply by "performing" the mandatory night vigil/march. How Tania uses her mental faculties to survive the fiasco is what the book is about. I would say that the buildup to the crux of the story is a little too long drawn. The ending is swift and calculated as if the author got fed up and wanted to finish off the story.

Not all creations of God are equal and it’s the same with the characters in this book. Some like Rahul and Harish are carved out intricately. Their descriptions are so vivid that you can almost see them if you close your eyes. Most of the other characters are not so fortunate. It would have been great if Naomi had invested in chalking out the other characters in detail to give a lasting impression.

In terms of language, it can safely be called the Delhi Belly of Indian literature. No, seriously, the language is easy and free-flowing and has dark humor. Naomi manages to explore a very real world of television with real issues in the most lucid manner.

The debut effort of Naomi is commendable as she gets most of the story-telling part right without digressing much. The ending mentions that, "It just keeps coming back in circles" and we wish that Naomi comes back with another one of her "insider" stories. The 7pm Slot! Anyone?

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5 Reactions:

Anubha said...

Nice review. It reminded me of the "Delhi Belly" language too! :D Was even going to mention it but chose not to considering many must not have seen the movie yet.

Pigtale said...

Thanks Anubha!

Rahul said...

Nice :)

I agree and felt the same while going through this book.

Pigtale said...

Thanks Rahul and Anubha! Both of your book reviews are awesome.

rohit said...

An enjoyable read The 6 Pm Slot by Naomi Dutta. loved the way you wrote it. I find your review very genuine and original, this book is going in by "to read" list.

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