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HindustanTimes Mon,15 Sep 2014

Of men in suits and tractor loads

Poonam Saxena, Hindustan Times   March 22, 2013
First Published: 23:55 IST(22/3/2013) | Last Updated: 23:58 IST(22/3/2013)

With hundreds of TV channels a click away, it's tough to figure out what to watch. I'm not likely to trip over myself to catch Gyan Darshan, but even so, there's a fair bit of choice, especially when a clutch of new shows launch simultaneously on different channels.

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The new international show (new for us, that is; viewers abroad have already caught two seasons) is Suits on Comedy Central. It's not a sitcom - and thank God for that. (Canned laughter can get annoying; also, the canned laughter used in many TV shows was apparently canned way back in the Fifties. It's a little eerie to imagine that the laugh tracks you heard on some shows were made by people long dead and gone).

Suits is a smart, witty show. It revolves around an abrasive and successful corporate lawyer, Harvey Specter, the best "closer" in the business, and the intelligent, naïve college drop-out, Mike Ross, who Specter hires as his associate. (It helps that Mike has a photographic memory and can quote clause 98 on page 201 in a 344-page legal document before you can say, 'Your Honour!') The relationship between these two very different men, and the inventive tactics with which they tackle tricky legal cases, makes for good viewing.

The other new show is Bani - Ishq Da Kalma on Colors. It's set in rural Punjab, and looks at the craze for 'phoren' (read packing your parandis and pugris and migrating, somehow or the other, to America-Canada, becoming a prosperous First World person and, consequently, the envy of your pind).

But the show also looks at the predicament of young Punjabi brides abandoned by their NRI husbands. The central character is a young girl of marriageable age, Gurbani, and her bitterly divided extended family.

Being a full-on Punjabi serial, there are tractors trundling down village roads, bhangra dancers, rural sports, dialogues peppered with "Gal dasso" and "Puttar," manjis (beds) in the courtyard and so on and so forth. But with Hindi serials, I've learnt one lesson. They often begin well enough but some weeks (months if we're lucky) down the line, they get lost in a strange No-Script-No-Direction-We-Don't-Know-What-We're-Doing Land, and are unable to find their way back. So far, Bani - Ishq Da Kalma is all right. But let's wait.

However, I'm happy to report the exception to the rule. Saraswatichandra (Star Plus) has actually got better, particularly in its nuanced depiction of the love story between Saras and Kumud. The pace is a bit slow and leisurely, but the show is still better than most of what is out there in the Hindi serial world.

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