Sunday, Apr 19, 2015

All in the parivar

Read or watch the daily news and then watch the daily soaps — the chasm between them is  ocean-wide and deep.  (Source: Reuters) Read or watch the daily news and then watch the daily soaps — the chasm between them is ocean-wide and deep. (Source: Reuters)
Written by Shailaja Bajpai | Published on:July 24, 2014 12:37 am

Most Hindi serials fail to reflect political and social upheavals outside the home.

Those of us who begin the week by at least pretending we have more important tasks to perform than to watch the TV screen all day missed the man with the black mane bounce out England. Lordly Ishant Sharma and “Sir” Ravindra Jadeja helped India win the second Test between the two countries on Monday evening IST. In vain did we search for highlights of the famous victory before or during dinner. It wasn’t till many people had gone to bed/ sleep — 11 pm — that Star Sports replayed how India ruled England, if only for a short while.

The pleasure of watching the match on high definition is to see the elements so well defined that you can pick one blade of grass from the other. Well, almost. Certainly, you could see every grey blade of hair on Kapil Dev’s head as he celebrated India’s victory on air alongside Rahul Dravid, whose every furrow of concentration on the brow — and if you’re Dravid that means very many — was clearly visible.

Ditto Amitabh Bachchan’s face as he contorts with pain and stiffness when his neurological disorder (Huntington’s disease?) catches him unawares (Yudh, Sony). It takes masterly control over the muscles to achieve the likeness of a man suffering from such a condition but Bachchan does it effortlessly, if rather too often. And apologies for incorrectly identifying Mumbai as the city of Yudh when it is of course Delhi — although the dark, grim city silhouettes could belong anywhere.

Yudh is a family drama wrapped in a contemporary and topical social and political context. There’s the unscrupulous politician, the corrupt police commissioner with a builder-mining angle to the plot that gets embroiled with Naxalites. It’s all rather convoluted and confusing — the standout flaw of the series thus far — but Yudh is not just all about family, husbands-wives-relatives. Much of it relates to the world beyond the home — that is refreshing. Anil Kapoor’s 24 did the same, but this is Amitabh Bachchan and where Amitabh Bachchan goes, others tend to follow.

The question is whether Yudh will lead entertainment channels and producers to create serials that go beyond the parivar. Most Hindi serials are family melodramas. Full stop. It’s as though the front door of the house and its windows firmly shut out the world of 2014 instead of welcoming it in.

The Pakistani serials we see on Zindagi are more open. Two series, Zindagi Gulzar Hai and Aunn Zara, have completed their runs, which is wonderful — Hindi soaps only end when the lead actors leave, say after a 1,000 …continued »

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