By now, we know that if we throw a dart at a Hindi serial, it will, in all likelihood, hit either a Bad Saas or a Good Bahu. The former persecutes the latter and the latter suffers quietly. Even when we are told that a serial is different – such as Diya Aur Baati (Star Plus) which was allegedly about a girl who dreamt of becoming an IPS officer with the support of her husband – we end up with a Bad Saas-Good Bahu story. (In Diya Aur Baati, the girl is still being harangued by her mother-in-law and is about as far away from becoming an IPS officer as Shakti Kapoor is to becoming another Salman Khan).
Which is why I am very wary of accepting the premise of the two new serials that have begun on Sony (Chhan Chhan) and Zee (Badaltey Rishton Ki Daastan). Chhan Chhan is apparently a takeoff on the 1980 film, Khoobsurat, in which a vivacious, free-spirited girl (Rekha) visits her sister’s sasural and wins over the strict mother-in-law, played by Dina Pathak.
But Khoobsurat was made by Hrishikesh Mukehrjee, master of the warm-hearted, middle-of-the-road, middle-class film which rarely failed to charm. Can we even speak of Chhan Chhan in the same breath?
Anyway, the serial is supposed to be about a lively, forthright girl called Chhan Chhan (yes that really is her name, and she’s played by Sanaya Irani) who will eventually tame her orthodox, obnoxious saas, Umaben (Supriya Pathak). At the moment, Chhan Chhan and Umaben have just met a few times and have clashed over dowry (Umaben thinks it’s all right to give and take dowry; Chhan Chhan abhors it). At the moment, the show has a sort-of modern feel (Chhan Chhan is a jean-clad dog trainer, her very nice normal mother is a history professor and her father is a painter). But if the show does end up as yet another cookie-cutter Bad Saas-Good Bahu show, well, we’ll just have to clock another dud down the drain.
In Badaltey Rishton… (which is based on a hit Bengali serial, Khela), the Bad Saas is replaced by the Bad Father-In-Law, and two women – his widowed bahu and her friend – are supposed to take on this patriarchal ogre. (He really is an ogre; everyone has to take permission from him to breathe). Wait and watch is the only way to go, I guess.
In international shows, coming up next week is an intriguing new series, Hannibal (AXN), based on the sinister serial killer created by novelist Thomas Harris. We’ve all seen Anthony Hopkins’ chilling turn as the cannibalistic Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs, but the TV series goes back to the time when Hannibal was not what he became. Sounds promising.