TV Review: ‘Fat Man & 13 Brides’ on NDTV Good Times
The producers at NDTV Good Times have been doggedly churning out food-related shows this year, but none of them has been particularly compelling. In January, they aired Foodistan, a competitive cooking show hinged on the culinary rivalry between teams of chefs from India and Pakistan; and in June, the entertainment channel failed miserably to seduce viewers with Love Bites With Joey, which focused more on model Joey Matthews’s pout than on the food. On Saturday, August 18, the channel aired the launch episode of Fat Man & 13 Brides, yet another food-centric show, but in a comic vein.
Central to the 13-episode series, which will be aired every Saturday at 8.30pm, is food show producer and anchor (you might recognise him from CNN-IBN’s Secret Kitchen) Bikramjit Ray’s search for a suitable bride. At the onset of the show, the tubby host tells us that he has been unlucky in love as a result of prioritising food over women, but has now made up his mind to rectify his neglect of romance. Because food has always been his first love, Ray sets out to find a girl with solid cooking chops.
In each episode, Ray travels within Delhi and to other parts of North India to meet girls from different communities, such as bania, kayastha, Rajput, and jat, recommended by astrologers, former work colleagues and other such well-wishers. Of course, we quickly learn that his posing as a suitor is just a front for seeking out the community’s heirloom recipes that the potential brides are then made to cook on the show, absurdly enough with other family members in attendance. Through the rushed and sketchy food demonstrations, Ray quizzes the relatives about the typical and peculiar marriage customs in their community.
Predictability sets in by the second 30-minute episode, as Ray, who is clearly more titillated by the food, makes no genuine attempt to engage with the nubile women who primp and cook for him. In the first two episodes, the staged meetings with the girl and her family end with the relatives or the girl rejecting Ray on account of his weight and age or because of his inordinate passion for food. We’re not sure why Ray signed up to be humiliated on national television, but it’s hard to feel sorry for the host who, with his tummy sufficiently filled, cheerfully takes the rejection in his stride.
The self-deprecating Ray, despite his brightly-coloured shirts and constant sweating around a stove, is more engaging than most other NDTV Good Times food anchors whose insipid commentary puts you off the food. What made us cringe however is the show’s blatant reinforcing of the stereotype that to be worthy enough to wed, a woman needs to first prove herself in the kitchen. Not only does the show’s backward premise not amuse us, we found little to laugh in the clearly scripted rejections of Ray by his prospective brides.
Fat Man & 13 Brides airs every Saturday at 8.30pm on NDTV Good Times.Tags: Bikramjit Ray, Fat Man & 13 Brides, NDTV Good Times, Television, TV, TV reviews, TV shows