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HindustanTimes Sat,23 Aug 2014

Of beastly beauties in search of idiot princes

Poonam Saxena, Hindustan Times   March 01, 2013
First Published: 23:13 IST(1/3/2013) | Last Updated: 23:14 IST(1/3/2013)

If I never hear the words "sapnon ka rajkumar" again in my life, it will not be a day too soon. In the year 2012, the phrase doesn't sound romantic, it just sounds idiotic. Yet all our Hindi serial heroines keep intoning "mere sapnon ka rajkumar"/"prince charming" as if it was some kind of magic mantra.

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A new show on Sony called Dil Ki Nazar Se… Khubsurat, has the heroine (along with her half-witted girlfriends) constantly twittering on about her "prince charming." Oh and by the way, this prince charming must also be "white." In what has to be the worst-ever opening of a new serial, we are introduced to a small girl who finds any brown-skinned, not-nice-looking person so scary that she can't bear to look at him. Her mother simpers about how they have to switch off the TV every time the girl sees aforesaid brown person. Maybe the family should migrate to Scandinavia; everyone may not be nice looking, but at least they'll all be white. What is this family doing in India anyway? More to the point, why are we being subjected to this show? I presume Khubsurat is supposed to be some sort of adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, but it is so offensive and so badly done, I had to literally grit my teeth to last out two episodes. If I see one more episode I might become homicidal.

There's another new heroine mooning about her "sapnon ka rajkumar." This is Kumud in the new Star Plus show, Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Saraswatichandra. Bhansali is known for his opulence and certainly, the sets and locations of Saraswatichandra are sumptuous and picturesque. But the original novel, in Gujarati, was set in 19th century feudal India, and the serial makes a big mistake in transplanting the story to a modern setting. Saraswatichandra's father, who runs a sprawling business in Dubai, and has a glamorous, society wife, telling his son "I have decided for you. How dare you talk back to me? How dare you contradict me?" or Kumud's family members running around ecstatically shouting "Kumud ke liye rishta aaya hai! Rishta aaya hai" even as Kumud reacts with orgasmic rapture - it just doesn't ring true. But put all this back into a 19th century feudal setting and it fits. Also, given the enervating history of evil, vamp-like mothers-in-law in Hindi serials -- Monica Bedi's turn as the cunning, manipulative stepmother makes for weary viewing.

I am sorry for sounding like a broken record, but the sad truth is that there is almost nothing worth getting hooked on to on our Hindi entertainment channels. I wish - ardently -- there was a show with a decent storyline, interesting characters and a nice script. No one is asking for anything experimental, revolutionary, or a change-the-world idea. It need not even be 'different'. By all means let's have a tense family drama or a star-crossed love story. But at least let it be relatable and engaging. Is that too much to ask?

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