The latest television ratings (which I accidentally tripped over) says Sony’s new show Bade Achhe Lagte Hain, starring television’s biggest names, Sakshi Tanwar and Ram Kapoor, is among the 10 most watched shown on Sony TV (CID is on the top of the list!) and 35th in the list of top 100 programmes across all channels.
Now, how did that happen? Who does this show cater to? The urban working class women? Urban non-working housewives? Teenagers? Mothers? Grandmothers? Neurotics? Idiots? Nope, I failed to zero in on a class in Indian society which can in anyway identify with any of the characters in the show.
Okay, before I completely lose track of what I was saying, let me get to the point. The show has been on air for roughly two months, but already it has created a record of sorts — four engagements in less than two months that it has been on air — all four being eventually called off! Even for those who are used to watching characters dying and being brought back to life on a regular basis on Indian TV would be cringing by now.
The five main characters of the storyline have already been engaged at least once. Only, that’s where the plot stops evolving — each time an engagement happens with much fanfare, it is broken in the coming week. It is as if the husband wife duo who are writing the plot had a domestic tiff and couldn’t decide which characters to pair off in the show.
Do soap makers think that their viewers are all bunch of idiots? I had started to watch the show, as its on-air promotion hinted at a mature love story with a storyline I am yet to see on Indian TV — two people in their late 30s and early 40s trying to come to terms with each other after an arranged marriage. It was a new concept for any Indian viewer who has literally been poisoned and traumatised by decades of ‘saas, sindoor and pati ka pyar‘ type clichés.
However, after watching two episodes, I realised that far from being a mature storyline, it was a mother of all clichés — the trials and tribulations of a family when their oldest daughter, who is in her late 30s fails to grab herself a groom. The attitude of the family is such that they now don’t care who asks for her hand in marriage — ab toh koi bhi chalega (now anyone would do) is the attitude that they go with.
Now, the family is worried about her marriage, but they don’t show any urgency in looking for a groom for her — all they do is wait for a rishta to knock on their doors. They are ready to hand her over to anyone who comes and asks her hand in marriage.
The lead, Priya, played by Sakshi Tanwar of Kahaani Ghar Ghar Kii fame is exactly like Parvati, the character she played in the Star Plus show — upright and all sacrificing. The only thing that makes her different is her lack of the all-pervading sindoor and glittering jewellery.
I do not understand how, the writers who live in an age were women choose to stay single and even choose to marry late, could conceive such a plot that demeans the very essence of modern Indian women in this country.
The hero of the show is an extremely fat, uncouth and illogical man who is shown to be a business tycoon — he of course is named Ram (his real name incidentally too is Ram Kapoor) who decides to marry Priya because his family forces him to.
The man who is shown to be a whiz kid of sorts who runs his own business shows completely lack of any intelligence while dealing with his family members, specially his younger sister, who is a lying, cheating, alcoholic snob — who incidentally is also a celebrated fashion designer in her own right. She is in love with Priya’s brother, but successful as she might be, she needs her brother to fix up her marriage.
I don’t know why I was expecting Ekta Kapoor’s Balaji Telefilms, which has produced shows like Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi and Kahaani Ghar Ghar Kii, to give me anything sensible. In fact, I would say that the women characters in Bade Ache… are worse than that of Kyunki Saas Bhi… and Kahaani…
In the latter two shows, neither Tulsi nor Parvati were modern women — they were shown to be housewives and behaved likewise. Here, a modern woman is made to mouth — “I was nothing, I married a man 20 years older to me to become something” at a time when women are successful in their own right, I do not see why a show has to create such caricatures.
Each and every character in the show are very badly etched out — while Priya’s mother is an overtly ambitious woman who likes to show off, Ram’s mother is someone who likes to be in control — both the women playing these characters have a perpetually perplexed expression on their faces. Their faces perhaps reflect the sentiments of most viewers who are watching the show.