Wednesday, November 19, 2014


I was not really a fan of most-talked about America TV show Homeland. I saw the first season much later, perhaps, together with the second season. I found it fascinating, especially how they located a fictional story within the context of real life crisis, using the names of real-life organisations, the CIA, among others. I also found Claire Danes awe-inspiring. I had always liked her, and she was brilliant here. There was another break till the third season, which I saw, all the episodes together, in a span of two days. Seeing a weekly TV show together, episodes after episodes, can give you a very different perspective about the whole thing. I liked the way they closed the Brody affair. In one sense, the saga of Homeland was over.

Then came the fourth season, and I was somewhat curious as to what they would do now, and I guess, I have lots of spare time. So, I am watching the series from the beginning, week after week, and I have some bones to pick.

While the plot of the season, set exclusively in Islamabad, Pakistan, is going from crazy to crazier, there are other issues I had problems with. First, the language. As far as I know, Pakistanis speak the sonorous Urdu. But the language the characters use is a very bad version of Urdu. It sounded more like Hindi, that too, as if it was translated from English by a software like a Google Translator. And, some of the minor characters speak the language with a pronounced American accent. Could not they find some local actors to play those small roles? Couldn’t they find a language coach? This is a basic courtesy to get the locale right. Or perhaps, the makers thought since the show is being watched by the Americans, no other language matters. They would read the subtitles. For example, when a bomb blast victim wakes up and asks for him mothers, this girl taking care of him says, Mujhe maaf karo (literally, I am sorry!). In subtitle, it is understood. I am sorry means, in English, your mother is dead. But in Hindi/Urdu, it does not make sense. Why should the girl seek forgiveness, when asked such a question? It’s completely bizarre.

To save the face, however, there are at least two Indian actors who can speak their Hindi, Suraj Sharma of Life of Pi and Nimrat Kaur of The Lunchbox, both get meatier roles and both speak almost correct Hindi, whenever required.

Sharma in particular is luckier. He gets to play another young, innocent and clueless boy in a midst of a larger conspiracy and he does it very well. And, then, he gets to kiss Claire Danes. How many Indian actors can claim to have accomplished this? Not that the physical activities between the Danes character and Sharma character were anything but erotic. It was really uncomfortable to watch our feisty heroine seduce a clueless young man to ‘turn’ him. He ‘turned’, to disastrous consequences.

There are four more episodes to go, and like always, Homeland is in murky waters.

A note on Art Malik, who plays a Pakistani minister. I was sort of surprised to see him grow old. I still remember him play the Hollywood blockbuster terrorist against Arnold Schwarzenegger in James Cameron’s True Lies. That was a movie.

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