With the sugar,a spoonful of medicine

Watch carefully — many TV serials have a serious,well-intentioned subtext

Written by Shailaja Bajpai | Published: February 23, 2012 3:43 am

Watch carefully — many TV serials have a serious,well-intentioned subtext

For those of you who go through TV serials thinking they’re just “entertainment,entertainment,entertainment” (if that),think again.

For instance,you may watch Balika Vadhu (Colors) for Jagdish and Gouri’s “love” story or for the tussles between Dadi-ma and young Anandi,the child bride Jagdish left behind,or because of the colourful costumes they’re bedecked in. However,Balika Vadhu is about female empowerment: first,Anandi became a teacher,then a social activist and more recently,she’s the sarpanch of the village. She still dresses as though she’s in an Incredible India promo,she still kneels at Dadi-ma’s feet to receive a right royal scolding,but she’s an elected representative of the people,too — that’s a big moment.

Yuvraj Singh is not alone in spreading the good word about cancer. You may watch Bade Achche Lagte Hain (Sony) for the chemistry between actors Ram Kapoor and Sakshi Tanwar or because even after many months of marriage,Priya still insists on calling him “Mr Kapoor” and sleeping demurely and separately on a most uncomfortable couch. However,over the last few weeks,Bade Achche has been sending out a message on the dangers of breast cancer. First Mrs Ram Kapoor had a suspicious lump in her breast,then last week,after she was given a medical clean chit,Mr Ram Kapoor lectured the female members of his family on the need for a cancer check-up.

Which brings us to Sajda Tere Pyaar Mein,new on Star Plus. The instant you read “pyaar”,you know this is about luuuuv; and sure enough,there’s romance in the air,waiting to be inhaled. The lead character is Aaliya,a lovely,happy-go-lucky college girl,who wants to have fun,fun,fun. Her sister,Nafisa,is a serious police officer determined to straighten out her wayward sister. Their brother disappeared mysteriously,one day,without a trace. Aaliya’s friend Rishi is addicted to the love of her and unfortunately,to drugs. Nafisa is chasing the drug cartel. So here’s a story with family values and a social theme with Muslim characters. Aaliya will possibly confront terrorism in later episodes,we’re told. Aha!

Even more interesting, Aaliya wears tight jeans,tight tops and behaves like any other giddy young teenager. We should not need to point this out — it is almost insulting to say she is like any other TV character. However,it’s important because Sajda Tere Pyaar Mein has consciously avoided the stereotypes — if Aaliya’s name was Priya,you could not have told the difference between them. Ditto Nafisa. This is exciting — even suppose it ends up as the usual melodramatic soap,if Sajda can break with the conventional mould in its portrayal of a middle-class Muslim family,it will be worth watching for just that.

Less compelling has been the obsession with Valentine’s Day. Last week,popular shows such as Saas Bina Sasural (Sony) and Parichay (Colors) celebrated romantic love. It was kiss and make up time — rather boring,frankly,to watch so many couples mooning over each other. On the other hand,it’s a mark up for the secular nature of TV entertainment: serials celebrate Karva Chauth with much fanfare as well as Valentine’s Day. Hurrah!

A new season of Indian Idol is around the corner and the promos are quite delightful: your average Indian from across the nation is shown singing the latest hit film songs almost as professionally as playback singers. If they’re anything to go by,this year’s talent show could be a humdinger.

Lastly,been watching Saturday Night Live (Comedy Central),the “classic late night live sketch comedy show”’ as IMDb describes it. Nothing is too sacred to be mocked by SNL — politics and politicians,celebrities,the media — in particular TV soaps,TV news,TV talk shows. It’s wonderfully funny — saw Jennifer Aniston last week and Tina Fey (30 Rock) reading out a mock news bulletin. Now,if only they would telecast more recent episodes. We’re still in the Bush presidency — that’s more than four years ago. In the age of instant Internet and mobile communications,this is just too late.

Think it’s time for Cyrus Broacha and his team to expand The Week That Wasn’t (CNN-IBN) into India’s Saturday Night Live. Don’t you think?

shailaja.bajpai@expressindia.com

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