My mom and dad watch Hindi soaps with gusto. Every evening, back home, I watch with complete fascination as they coordinate their work so that they can tune in to their favourite serials.
I was out once, and I asked my dad to pick me up at about 9 pm. Can you make it 8.45 instead? There’s Jassi/Astitva (or something like that) today, he tells me.
I am impressed. My mom and dad (who disagree on most things!) come together to watch soaps in the evenings. And not only that, if my mom has to run a quick errand, my dad fills her up on what she’s lost during the ad break.
Do watch any of these serials, my mom enquires one day.
I look up guiltily, like she is asking me if I’d completed my homework.
Uh, no, I reply, I don’t have cable.
She’s distressed. You should watch some of these family dramas, she advises me. They’re based on what happens in real life, you know. I make some non-committal noise.
Actually, you have to watch it from the beginning, says my dad and he goes to explain the Astitva story. A (man) was married to B (woman). A is younger than B and therefore problems crop up. A and B separate. A now lives with girlfriend but cannot forget B. And B is also in another relationship. But cannot forget A. Is this a classic problem or what?
Last night, at my hotel, I decided to experiment with Hindi soaps since they were showing some awful movies on the other channels (somebody save me from Rambo). I turned to Sony. There was a serial called Kahani Terri Merri going on.
The story for yesterday’s episode was that the bahu (daughter-in-law) wanted to go do a naukri (job). Hubby supports her. Saas (mother-in-law) makes big eyes and threats. So there is this whole ensuing drama about bahu saying I will not work against saas’s wishes, husband telling her she should have a mind of her own, and saas looking angry and generally refusing to eat food.
And that was what the whole episode centred around. A whole half hour. Hmm. The bahu went about looking like she was making life’s greatest sacrifice, hubby looking distraught and saas looking angry and teary-eyed. Uh huh.
The episode is also marked by:
Incredible use of slow motion: Every time there is a dramatic moment, hands, heads and everything move in slo-mo. The music rises to a crescendo and then comes back to normal in sync.
Excessive use of kajol: One of the women uses kajol not only on her eyes, but a significant area around it, giving a new meaning to the word, doe-eyed. I am fascinated.
Display of tons of gold jewellery: I don’t even dress for weddings the way these characters dress when cooking rice and sabji. They would probably use me as a table stump or some such supporting accessory if I accidentally strayed into their sets.
Flexible use of eyebrows: One woman moved them so much, I think she should enter the Eye Movement Olympiad or create one just so she can win. I was transfixed as they wiggled up and down. I could probably have spent a whole evening just watching her eye moves.
Kilograms of sindoor: Now, I know everything is exaggerated on screen, but the amount of sindoor on the saas’s forehead was incredible. I swear, she could have painted the Great Wall of China with the stuff she had on her head. I am convinced the make-up people go to a special school which teaches the art of making women look like overdressed cows.
All said and done, I admire Ekta Kapoor for stumbling across the ‘formula’ that’s making her laugh all the way to the bank while thousands of men and women huddle around television sets wondering whether A and B will eventually get together again…
Ma, I think I’ll pass this one.