We can do better than soaps, if we try to explore and employ logical scripts and for once try our hands at acceptable writings. Some shows successfully did that and today’s makers should take a lesson or two from that.
“Hindi Television” is often considered as the second to Bollywood. If not this, then the stereotyping of Indian shows, as the typical saas bahu drama, which has nothing more to offer than the ideal Indian daughter in law trying to protect her family through tears and prayers. Much credits to Ekta Kapoor for down pouring the television with the ‘K’ shows, without any regrets.
Alternatively, I think we are often too quick to judge Indian TV shows because with sheer honesty most of them are anti-logic and with the time span given to them, are woefully taxing as well. This often blinds us from the fact that there have been shows that tried to break the monotony of despicable stories by serving us some genuinely applaud able content.
Here is a list of some of the shows, that proved that Indian Television is not all bad.
1) Sarabhai vs Sarabhai
In a clutter of regressive saas bahu saga, Sarabhai Vs Sarabhai was a breath of fresh air. It was a wonderful take on the socio-economic divide, the show was an intelligent commentary on the flakiness of the affluent without being preachy. It poked at the hypocrisy of society and didn’t flinch to call people out on it – all in good humour, of course. And, the writing, hands down. Quirky, witty and ingenious, the show boasts of Indian TV’s best writing till date. It was a dream mix of crisp direction, perfect timing and the far out acting. You can still watch and re-watch all the episodes without getting bored even once, as a matter of fact, people have gone on a record to even call it a – classic.
2) Malgudi Days
The adventure series/coming-of-age show first hit the small screen in 1986. Directed by Shankar Nag, and based on the stories of the Indian writer, RK Narayan, Malgudi Days made its first appearance on DD National and was later recast on Sony TV. In today’s time, when you have pathetic melodramas like Kumkum Bhagya and Kundali Bhagya reigning in the TRP department, you know something is off with the makers and the viewers. It is about time to give a reminder to the audience, that the Indian TV was once responsible for making shows like Malgudi Days. It not only connected with people by showing the everyday life, but also never compromised on the quality of entertainment. It was a perfect mixture of emotions, culture, light humour and stories you can relate with. The best part about it is that it is now available for free on Youtube.
3) Dekh Bhai Dekh
Dekh Bhai Dekh – one of the longest running TV shows of the 90s – needs no introduction. It was a pioneer of Indian comedy shows. With the best possible cast and the amazing comic timing, this show won hearts. Emotions, drama, family, comedy, script- DBD had it all. From the innocent little kids to the house servant Karima, all the characters were perfectly created for the Indian audience. The show was addictive and way ahead if its time. Dekh Bhai Dekh proved that while the west made iconic TV shows like Friends, India too had its own little revolution of the comedy content on television. “Kadam Kadam par gaana hai, hasna hai aur rona hai.”, the very essence of the title track was to keep the spirits high even in not-so happy times. Life would be so much easier if we made this song our mantra.
4) Byomkesh Bakshi
Adopted from a Bengali fictional character of a detective with the same name, the TV series began in 1993 and Rajit Kapur played its protagonist. The show was different from others that aired on TV at that time. The show became huge. The audience, especially the youth, loved it, as Byomkesh was a relatable person and not a larger than life character. When the Nationally award winning actor, Rajit Kapur, decided to play the role of Byomkesh Bakshi, whom he describes as “ ordinary man with extraordinary power of thinking”, little did he knew that his life was going to change forever. What proves this is that even today, Indian audiences remember Rajit as Byomkesh. The show was a milestone for the Hindi Television and is remembered till date for its brilliance.
Not many Indian sitcom can boast of inspiring a Bollywood movie and a comic book based on them – Office -Office managed to pull this off with its sheer strength of good content and the genuine doses of laughter. With Bollywood actor, Pankaj Kapoor in the central character of Mussadilal, the acting quite certainly was in safe hands. This is perhaps the only show that beats Sarabhai Vs Sarabhai, when it comes to stellar writing. Dry, sarcastic humour and bitch repartee was scarce on Indian Television( it still is) but Office-Office proved us that it was possible. Mussadi Lal is still remembered as the most iconic television character of all time and this itself proves its splendour.
Department of English, Jamia Millia Islamia
The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of The Jamia Review or its members.