Thursday, October 05, 2006

Ekta Kapoor For President

I have been on the wagon as far as Indian channels is concerned for the past few months. My parents came to visit me and gave the perfect excuse to get Zee TV and Sony TV back on my viewing radar (no Star TV here). From the brilliant news that Zee TV produces (every news item starts and ends with, ‘wahaan ka mahaul kaisa hai?’) to the ads of Ajmeri Baba and Peer Syed Sahib that promise to end my life’s problems in 72 hours, or my money back, these channels bring a different world to my living room. Don’t get me wrong. I am more desi than pardesi. I read at least four Indian newspapers every day, I watch practically all the movies that are released, I hear more music than most people would spend time on, but television has always been out of scope. Every visit to India though is punctuated with a day or two spent in watching everything that my Mom watches (I have seen Indian men scurry out of the room when Kyonki … starts). I believe Ekta Kapoor must be one of the most influential people of our generation. Flash-forwards, flash-backwards, her serials are larger than movies. Almost like an entire nation is hypnotized.

The serials are absolutely brilliant and very enjoyable if you watch it with the right frame of mind. Sample this. In ‘Kasamh Se’ (no, I didn’t misspell it), the heroine Baani (Ekta Kapoor’s favorite 18 year old Prachi Desai) has just seen her husband, whom she calls Mr. Walia for the entire length of the serial that I have followed, possibly shoot someone. The person with the revolver in his hand has his back to her and when he turns around and turns out to be Mr. Walia, the camera comes crashing down. Not only crashing down, it does about 15 different movements, ranging from left-right, right-left to south-west->south-east. Every jerk is emphasized by an absolutely blank look from Baani (no, she isn’t acting, that is exactly how she looks in every scene) and a whooshy music score. After about a minute of all the camera movements, the dialog starts. There’s disbelief, sindoor and bewafaai thrown in the picture. Mr. Walia tries hard to convince her he is innocent, but she refuses to believe him. And then, the twist. Mr. Walia tells his wife, ”Hilna Mat”. Turns out she has strategically placed herself over a time bomb. If she moves, the bomb explodes now, else it will explode in six minutes anyway. The bland faced heroine balks, then quizzes her husband about a secret, something that happened six years ago, that he never confessed. She says that while she is on her way up, at least she should go with that knowledge. Noble. Nobler Mr. Walia instead pushes her off in one swift motion steps on the plate-bomb, thus maintaining the pre-condition that the bad lighting on the set has to be focused on someone, also ensuring that the bomb does not explode. At least not for the next four minutes. I am on the edge of my sofa now. What next? Mr. Walia, who thinks that acting means blinking in slow motion, then starts a monologue. “I want to tell you what happened six years ago. I want to get it off my chest while I have …. (then stares down) three minutes left”. By now, I am ready to throw the pillow on the TV. What happened next made me throw myself at the TV. A song started. A full fledged song. From Kalyug “Jiya dhadak dhadak jaye”. For God’s sake Mr. Walia, you have only .. (I looked at MY watch) three minutes left before today’s episode ends. But the song continues. The wind keeps blowing, the camera moves in slow motion focusing on the two actors. Sanguine, relaxed, they have obviously forgotten that they have limited time, a six-year old secret to share and a bomb to diffuse. And then, the song ends. Mr. Walia looks like he is going to talk. My salvation is near. He will tell his secret and my life can go on. And he starts:”Bani”. And the credits roll. Someone died that evening. It was probably me.

Postscript: I never found out the secret or how Mr. Walia escaped the bomb. I led my hollow existence, away from the vagaries and struggles of their lives. But I have caught up a few episodes later. I would like to reassure everyone that they are safe and sound, and apparently divorcing each other. Kasamh Se, no life without desi TV. I can barely thank Ekta Kapoor for the great television she brings into our lives. Come to think of it, I don’t even see her flagship serials on Star TV. Ekta ji, well done. Just make sure Mr. Walia spills the beans sometime. Even if the serial jumps thirty years.

18 comments:

Avinash said...

I had the (mis)fortune of watching one such serial at a friends place...(same story, parents visiting). It's not just Ekta Kapoor, all serials are like this. It's as if every TV producer has attended Ramanand Sagar College of Bad TV. Infact I realized that in these serials the characters are clearly defined. The vamp will be garishly dressed and made up, with a typical twisted in smile and when the ubiquitous 'shocking moments' appear she will be shown in Black and White. The poor heroin will be the simple girl with minimal makeup. I was absolutely horrified...It made me remember the heydays of DD...sure they were a babu run channel with lots of boring stuff but they showed some good serials... Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi, Shrimaan Shrimati, Humlog, Buniyaad, Karamchand, Surabhi...much better production values, much much more talented ppl involved...

RTD2 said...

This was quite an enjoyable post. I recall discussing with you how this was similar to the finale of the first (second?) season of Grey's Anatomy. I was hooked too...they too left you hanging just when time was up and the bomb could explode; next thing you know, someone else was touching the bomb!
So I guess all I'm trying to say is, whether it's Ekta or Shonda, the aam junta that laps this stuff up has some atavistic craving for such unreal drama :)
I think you have quite a talent for humorous writing, by the way...this was almost as funny as the shaadi.com one.

Shreemoyee said...

:) Is that the latest serial "K"? I usually get a fix when I go home and the funny thing is every one complains .. "oh it is so terrible, the story is so absurd" but at 10:30 at night, they still have to sit and watch what happened next. I guess it is some kind of an addiction.

RagzZmatazZ said...

hahahhahahahahahahhahaha !!!

Thanks for making my day !

Anoc said...

*rolling on the floor, flailing arms and legs, laughing, gasping, dying* K k k k k k - choke - kkk...

Niranjan said...

to ekta's credit, she's inspired this fantastic post!

sd said...

So is there a huge "K" conspiracy... I mean Karan Johar's sequence of movies and Ekta Kapoor's sequence of serials.....
One serial I remember seeing in this "genre" is Swabhiman... that my mother was hooked to...

Parth said...

@Avinash: I wonder if there's a way to find these serials online somewhere. I have VCDs of Flop Show, but that's about it.

@RTD2: Thanks, but I think creating humor is much harder. In this instance, the humor was already there, I just had to present it.

@Shreemoyee: Yup, the 'K' fixation. It is addictive, no doubt, else they wouldn't be so popular in India.

@Ragz, Niranjan, SD, Anoc: Thanks :-) I am glad you guys enjoyed it.

Anonymous said...

Yup, serials are like that my friend.

I'll tell you what happens next- There are NO spoilers here b/c this episode aired a long time back now, everyone knows what happened. IF YOU FOR SOME REASON DO WATCH THIS SHOW AND HAVE NOT SEEN PAST THE BOMB SCENE DO NOT READ, IT IS WAY BETTER TO WATCH!

Its been a while so may not be perfect. Its either how I tell you the order, or the other way around: Jai tells her the secret of Park Road, Bani runs into his arms and they hold each other.

The rockstar Sandy calls Roshni and says you gotta see this, Bani and Jai dont want each other to die, so they'll both die together - "4...3...2...1.." then just BOOOOOOOOOMM. Then the infamous Balaji Telefilms music/screen- episode over.

Next episode: Bomb was either fake or an extremely weak one. Jai and Bani are just winded on the floor, small controlled fires around. They are both alive in todays episode, although couple weeks back, someone tried to shoot Jai, they havent provided ANY info into who it was, just that its not Roshni, and not Aditya (they tried to make us think it was).

Parth said...

@Anonymous: Thank you for filling in the blanks. Especially since I won't be getting to see this in the future. I think the serials always lag in the US compared to their telecast in India. Its true for other reality shows like Sa Re Ga Ma Pa etc.

Mohit said...

Why do Maasi ane Didi both want the hideous transparent sarees shown in the show?
Care to explain?
My take is Ekta Kapoor has a controlling stake in some Saree/Bindi/Garish makeup manufacturing business.
Tried watching two such shows in a row and got really confused because some of these things have almost the same star cast.And they kept flashing back to some episode just before the universe was created and then back again to current episode time.
As for the vamps-Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned in episode 3 of a saans bahu soap.
And I'm sick of Sudha Chandran..ewww

Mohit said...

Just recalled someone mention Karamchand earlier on your page.Now that was pretty good stuff.Not that we knew it then because there were no Ekta Kapoor soaps to compare them to.Remember other strange stuff on DD.Like Fireball XL5.And Giant Robot.Made Star Trek communicators out of matchboxes when I was a kid.Miss good old Captain Kirk on DD sometimes.If i remember correctly all the aliens were curvy females who wore makeup that today's vamps will graduate to in another 5 years.Have deleted all the mainstream 'soapy' channels from my set.But it's hard to survive on just Travel and Living and Zee movies, now that HBO and Star are blocked.Would love to watch stuff like 'Discovery of India' and 'Tamas' again.
Why on earth doesn't DD do reruns?

JVC1 said...

Hi, I came here thru Aarti's blog. I almost fell off my chair laughing! That was really humourous!

shreya said...

about indian men scurrying out when kyonki starts- i beg to differ.

middle aged indian men are her closet audience/fans.

which more than explains the garish see-through sarees. eek. polyester!

ps: you're funny!

Parth said...

@Mohit: You'd be amazed at how many times old DD serials have come up for discussion among friends over here. I actually heard that they were replaying Byomkesh Bakshi on DD. Is that true?

@JVC1: Thanks, I am happy you liked it.

@Shreya: I have to admit your theory sounds plausible. That would definitely explain the transparent sarees :-) Also noticed that the vamp always has a special tikka. Is TV driving fashion trends in India now?

Kau said...

Hilarious !!!!
This was tooo funny !!!

I blog at www.mettakau.blogspot.com

Parth said...

@Kau: Thanks :-)

Stone said...

:-)
We need more such posts :-)