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HindustanTimes Wed,23 Apr 2014

Of amnesia and time jumps: TV goes gaga

Poonam Saxena, Hindustan Times   September 22, 2012
First Published: 00:29 IST(22/9/2012) | Last Updated: 00:31 IST(22/9/2012)

We all know that characters in television serials live in a world of their own. Sometimes that’s okay (I’ve said this before and I'll say it again – I’m all for escapism), but sometimes you can’t help but go cross eyed in your head, so far removed is the TV world from the real world. Think about it. What are the chances that you’ve ever had an accident and lost your memory? (I mean, sometimes you wish you had lost your memory, but no such luck). Or has someone you thought was dead suddenly showed up in your life?

Or how about something simpler? Like being in the habit of loudly and animatedly talking to yourself, and in the process revealing some deep and dark secret; then being overheard by the bad person/villain in your life who then proceeds to use that information against you… Seriously? But this is all in a day’s (episode’s?) work on TV shows.

Sony’s new show, Honge Juda Na Hum, is about a married couple who have an accident and both (that’s right, both of them) lose their memories. For various reasons, their families decide to keep them apart. But because they actually share a janam janam ka rishta, they keep bumping into each other as strangers, without knowing the truth. And though they start off by getting on each other’s nerves, what are the chances they’re going to end up falling in love all over again?

Here, if I may digress for a bit. The childish and willful heroine (bordering on shrewish) has by now become a well-established stereotype in TV serials, much given to cutely stamping her foot in a temper/tossing her hair in a cute manner/pouting cutely (I’m feeling faintly ill even as I write this). She’s eerily reminiscent of all those Hindi film heroines of the Sixties, variously called Miss Meena or Miss Sheela, who would also stamp their feet/toss their hair etc and repeatedly snap “Idiot! Stupid!” at the hero. I’d thought this particular female stereotype was long gone, but I was clearly wrong. Whatever little I’ve seen of Honge Juda Na Hum, the female lead fits this slot perfectly. I get it that the serial wants to show the two leads bickering with each other before falling in love (so much more interesting than syrupy mush, I agree), but the nok-jhok is distinctly off.

Meanwhile, in Bade Achche Lagte Hain, our grumpy and endearing Mr Kapoor has just seen his wife Priya – who he thought was dead – pop up in front of him at a party. He stares at her incredulously, she stares back at him in shock and guilt. He continues to stare at her incredulously, looking for all the world as if he’s seen a ghost (which he has, technically) and then he promptly faints, winding up on a hospital bed. “He has had a great shock,” says the doctor sagely. (Boy, he could say that again!) After Ram Kapoor, it is the turn of Priya’s family to be confronted with their dead daughter who is not dead at all. Though she tries to explain why she pretended to be dead for five years, she’s about as convincing as someone saying she got married to aliens.

All this happened in Bade Achche Lagte Hain because the producer, Ekta Kapoor, wanted a time jump to boost the drama on the show. Many viewers railed and ranted (I certainly did) but Bade Achche Lagte Hain’s ratings shot up. So, memory loss/back from the dead etc still work for viewers, it seems. And who’s to argue with ratings?

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