A day after Diwali, some breathless teenagers, equally breathless homemakers (along with their husbands quite resigned to their fate), and a considerable number of working women, breathless again, waited just like Khushi, her breath locked in her throat, for the kiss that never came. Her passionate adversary, Arnav, came tantalisingly close but lost his nerve at the last moment. If somebody had bothered to listen, they would have heard many elaborate sighs and ‘awwws’ that night.
What they were all watching, some on the telly, some on their phone (serious!) and many on YouTube was no Shah Rukh Khan starrer but a Star Plus soap. Iss Pyaar Ko Kya Naam Doon
, a sizzling love story in the established tradition of Mills & Boon novels, narrates the love-hate relationship of a hot-looking angry tycoon with a dark past and a beautiful, sassy heroine from the hinterlands who has the temerity to stand up to his domineering ways.
The soap has caught the imagination of a whole new generation of telly soap watchers, so much so that some YouTube videos of scenes from the daily serial have notched up views of more than a lakh and busy executives are sneaking out time to provide live updates of the serial on online
forums to those who cannot watch it at the appointed hour!
Gone are the days when those younger than 40 used to snigger at Hindi television soaps and talk disdainfully about ‘those serials’ full of kitchen politics and saas-bahu
bickering. It seems Hindi television entertainment, which was fast losing its way just a few years ago, appealed to Cupid for help. The plea apparently hasn’t been in vain and the cherub’s arrow has found its mark. A random Google search of Iss Pyaar Ko
throws up many forums where people are eagerly discussing the story, earnestly analysing the symbolisms depicted in it, writing their own fiction and arguing passionately about its inconsistencies. And this is not an isolated case. In fact, it looks like Cupid went on an overdrive.
Love abounds on television at primetime. Star Plus, with a clear understanding of the needs of its women audience and flawless marketing, leads the brigade with four love stories on air at last count. If Iss Pyaar Ko
works because of the undeniable chemistry of the lead pair, there is Diya Aur Bati Hum
, where shy, old-world love is blooming between a halwai husband and his ambitious wife — he is ‘panchvi-pass
’ and she is dreaming of becoming an IPS officer.
The third is another new serial, Ek Hazaaron Mein Meri Behena Hain
, which despite its yawn-inducing title, is actually a story of two chalk-and-cheese sisters falling for two brothers. The fourth, Navya,
is a straightforward college caper.
Sony is snapping at Star Plus’s heels with its own bombaat
love stories. Bade Acche Lagte Hain
from the Ekta Kapoor stable (yes, she too has abandoned saas-bahus
) is a funny, warm and mature love story between a couple in their early ‘40s. A bona fide love story of a middle-aged couple is a remarkable step forward for Indian television and the show’s popularity is a sure-fire indicator of what its changing audience are demanding to see.
Sony’s second offering, Kuch Toh Log Kahenge
, is a remake of the once hugely popular Pakistani drama, Dhoop Kinare,
whose video cassettes were hot property in India in the 1990s. The Pakistani drama was a delicate narration of the inevitable pull of love between an older man and a younger woman and was an absolute delight to watch. Kuch Toh
has been unable to match up to the original but for those who haven’t seen the Pakistani
version, the soap is good timepass. Undoubtedly, all these serials come with excellent production values, decent acting and good looking faces. But, what’s really ticking is their determination not to ape each other. Each soap has its own USP and is working hard at maintaining it. This is a far cry from the days when every serial wanted to look and feel like a Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi
or a Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki.
Love on the small screen is working big time also because the audience is being transported every night to a gentler era where adoration is about ardent eye-locks, stolen glances, accidental touches and timid courtship — providing relief from the unarticulated nausea on the big screen, induced by brash Munnis,
and bodyguards who wobble muscles to express their ardour.
Unfortunately, Colors seems to be still stuck in a time warp with truly regressive serials and bizarre storylines — the kind that Ripley will be proud to showcase. Its long-running yawn, Uttaran
, for instance, has seen so many affairs and husband switches that even its silver-haired matron is not keeping count anymore. The other day, I caught a teaser of a serial that promised to reveal why the colour of the heroine’s sindhoor
would change her destiny. A round of barf bags to everyone please!
But light seem to have dawned on the creative directors of Colors as well, at least going by their latest, Na Bole Tum Na Maine Kuch Kaha
. As the teaser reveals, a man in his mid-20s, fumbling with his phone and heaving his luggage, knocks at the door of a quaint house. The door is opened by two kids who call for their mother to attend to the guest. A calm woman with a gentle look of enquiry comes to the door, the portrait of her dead husband clearly visible behind her. The youngster fumbles a bit more while the single mother of two grows calmer. Cupid is obviously in no mood to rest.
Published in Deccan Herald on 05.02.2012. Find it here http://www.deccanherald.com/content/224582/soap-studded-telly.html