And we’re are back! And hoping, with a bang. This year too, like last year, we manfully watched hours and hours of Indian TV – to figure out which characters deserved our coveted Sari Sindoor and Glycerine Awards! The first SSG Awards, given last year at around the same time, were a runaway hit, and so here we are again.
All the Hindi entertainment channels were divided among the Brunch team and for many many days, work mean being surgically attached to your assigned channel. In the bargain, people developed ‘saas fatigue’ and ‘bahu headaches’ – but they also developed a sense of humour. Who wouldn’t? After catching Chidiya Ghar, a serial in which all charcters are based on animals (bizarre!). But we thought it was cute. Much better than Ichcha (Uttaran) and her never-ending struggles, Bhabho (Diya Aur Baati Hum) and her typical saas antics. And yes, amidst all this came Sanjay Leela Bhansali. He gave us hope. The sets of his Saraswatichandra are spectacular (in typical Bhansali fashion), but we still have to see a few more episodes to pass our verdict.
And we’re still waiting for the day when we’ll get serials about working women (and we want working mothers-in-law too!), office romances, period dramas, witty comedies... yes, we have a long list. But till then, since we have to watch what there is, we compiled a list of characters we (could) like and lots we couldn’t (though we tried). At all. Read. Enjoy.
The ‘waiting for Godot’ award
Ichcha/ Uttaran (Colors)
Ichcha (Tina Dutta) would have made Waiting For Godot playwright Samuel Beckett a happy man. She’s the epitome of waiting endlessly and in vain. She waits for her husband Vir (who lost his memory) for 18 years to recognise her. In the interim, she also goes to jail for killing the man who wanted Vir dead. Oh, let us also tell you, all this while, Vir is having a good time with a new wife! But Ichcha’s still waiting for her pati.
The She’s got a pair award
Chandramukhi Chautala/ FIR (Sab TV)
Chandramukhi Chautala (Kavita Kaushik) wears the pants and is the snappiest lady cop in town, and the sexiest (we gave her the hot-bod in uniform award last year). She gets a new one this time, for the men around her are still wary of her rapid-fire Haryanvi! And her machine-gun laffas! And for her ‘once she thinks it, she does it’ attitude. She has more b***s than all the men on TV put together.
The ‘grow a pair’ award
Jeet Ahuja/ Parvarrish – Kuchh Khatti Kuchh Meethi (Sony)
Jeet (Vishal Singh) can make anyone’s manhood shrivel up. Everybody walks all over him. All the time. And for no plausible reason – he’s not bad-looking, he seems more erudite than the rest of his family (and extended family), and his wife and kids adore him. Last month, when Raavee (his daughter) got kidnapped, we hoped for some manning up! But, fail. There’s some perfunctory shouting and screaming, of course, but he mostly looks like he’s going to faint. Oh, and not to forget, his wife has to play nanny in bed every other episode (Oh, for God’s sake! Not that kind of nanny!).
Vikram and Neha Shergill/ Bade Achhe Laggte Hai (Sony)
Vikram (Jai Kalra) and Neha (Tarana Raja) are the Winnie and Piglet of Indian TV. They are the kind of friends who’ll bail you out, no matter what crisis they themselves are going through. They play Cupid each time Ram and Priya start to look shaky (which is often). While Vikram is balanced and persuasive, Neha is bossy and blunt. But then, that’s exactly the kind of friends you need. We’re even willing to forgive their combined overacting.
The ‘kaya kalp’ award
Dadisa/ Balika Vadhu (Colors)
The erstwhile mother-in-law from hell, dadisa (Surekha Sikri) has done a 360o – she’s being extra nice to her daughters-in-law, and has gone against her favourite grandson Jagya by supporting Anandi. The woman for whom customs and traditions were sacrosanct, went against the grain to get Anandi remarried (to Shiv). From championing regressive child marriage to the progressive remarriage of her bahu, this grand old lady has come a long way.
The ‘believe it or not’ award
The Narayan family/ Chidiya Ghar (Sab TV)
A lion-like grandfather has two sons – horse-like and cow-like – who marry a koel bird and a peacock, respectively. That’s how bizarre this serial’s concept is. Every character has the personality traits of an animal, and they actually pull it off! Check out peacock Debina Mookherjee’s neck swivel, and the domestic help Mendek’s frog mimicry.
The ‘hot, hotter, hottest’ award
Shiva/ Devon Ke Dev... Mahadev (Life OK)
Sorry, but we couldn’t find anyone more sizzling than Mohit Raina (who won the ‘God-looker’ award last year) on TV. He’s still smouldering, he still loves his bhang, and he still has that ‘I will kill you with my sexy smile’ air, but now he’s also become a FAMILY man. He loves his wife Parvati (Sonarika Bhadhoria), often appeases her if she gets angry (when she throws him out of the house, he just sits silently; since he can’t cry, he makes rain fall). He’s also a good father. Can’t get better!
The ‘deewar pe tangi ho’ award
Santosh Rathi aka Bhabo/ Diya Aur Baati Hum (Star Plus)
The saas reading this can cringe, but Santosh (Neelu Vaghela) is the mother-in-law who re-inforces the Punjabi saying, ‘Saas ho to changi ho, nahi to deewar pe tangi ho’. She’s not unbelievably evil, like our last year’s winner (Savita Damodar Deshmukh, Pavitra Rishta), but she’s more terrifying because she seems a bit more real. She could happen to anyone. The daughter-in-law, Sandhya (Deepika Singh) is never right. The poor girl is banned from studying, because then she would be more educated than Bhabo’s mithai-shop-owner son Sooraj (Anas Rashid). Result, the girl slogs in the house during the day and sneaks out to study at night (nightmare!) Bhabo is insensitive, believes in regressive ideas, never smiles and shuts up the good father-in-law. Sounds familiar? The ‘OTT naeka (Bengali for coy and affected)’ award
Zoya Farooqui/ Qubool Hai (Zee TV)
Zoya (Surbhi Jyoti) makes us want to sit her down and smack all the silly out of her. Of all the Hindi serial heroines in love, this one is the most ‘naeka’ (ask a Bengali what it means)! She giggles and bubbles, chirps and preaches. She calls her loverboy (look right) "Mr Khan". A few weeks ago, she sneaked into his room (through the window) with a plateful of cookies. When he snapped at her, she pretended to be upset. "Yeh aapne theek nahi kiya, Mr Khan," she pouted. When we started watching Qubool Hai, we liked this good-looking, modern girl with a mind of her own. But then she started simpering at the man and at us!
The ‘Best Punjabi mummy’ award
Sweety Ahluwalia/ Parvarrish – Kuchh Khatti Kuchh Meethi (Sony)
We said it last year, and we’ll say it again: We love Sweety Ahluwalia (Shweta Tiwari). All the Punjabi mummies put together aren’t as adorable as this one! Now that son Rocky has grown up and daughter Ginny has grown less annoying, mummy has become a bit relaxed too. The loud, crass mother is almost graceful now. Except when the kids start fighting, then she screams, “Oye, chupp!”
The ‘I have only one expression’ award
Rishab Mohan Kundra (RK)/ Madhubala – Ek Ishq Ek Junoon (Colors)
RK (Vivian Dsena) achieves the impossible. He makes the anti-hero (generally a well-layered and interesting character) wholly single-toned. He has pretty much one expression throughout – a smug, self-satisfied, ‘I’m just awesome’ smirk. All you can do is guess whether he’s angry, happy, hurting or romantic. And his good looks don’t cushion the blow!
The ‘wooden chest impersonation’ award
Asad Ahmed Khan/ Qubool Hai (Zee TV)
He’s a model! Asad (Karan Singh Grover) is tall and broad, with a beautiful face and a sculpted body. We think he’s trying to be all alpha male, simmering and brooding with his pretty ‘girlfriend’ (Zoya), but hey, you’ve got to act too. He’s got daddy issues, his half-brother was in love with his lady friend but gave her up – there’s just so much scope to the character! Only if Mr Khan would decide to move even one muscle in his face! But no, his face is a locked wooden chest. It’s almost tragic!
The OPD award
Ram Kapoor/ Bade Achhe Laggte Hai (Sony)
Ram Kapoor (Ram Kapoor) moves in and out of the outpatient (OPD) department with ease, surviving a bullet wound, fainting at a two-second notice and popping thousands of pills that wife Priya (Sakshi Tanwar) doles out. This has started to bother us. So, we decided to give him this award (a change from last year’s ‘The Big Fat Indian Husband’ award).
Nandi/ Devon Ke Dev… Mahadev (Life OK)
Nandi (Kumar Hegde) has got big, pointy ears, curly hair and the cutest Bambi eyes! Nandi looks more like an elf than the bull he’s supposed to represent. We’re not complaining. Last month, when Dashanan snubbed him, Nandi looked so crestfallen! We wanted to take him in our arms and pet him till he smiled again!
The ‘mere paas maa hai’ award
Naitik Singhania/ Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai (Star Plus)
Naitik (Karan Mehra) aka Munna is ‘maa ki ankh ka tara’. He’s the typical Indian son and lets her fret over him. Whether it is about him not eating his food, his troubles in office or his tension-filled relationship with his son, his ‘maa’ has a say in everything. When he does takes an independent decision, we are tortured for weeks into watching him feel guilty. The ‘maa’ is then manaaoed and there is peace in Munna-land.
The ‘bet I can scare you in bed’ award
Dayaben/ Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah (Sab TV)
She’s not hot, for one. The fact that she has the most annoying habits – she talks like she has a speech impediment, keeps twitching every part of her face (we wonder how it is even possible), blinks her eyes like they are tap stoppers – reaffirms our decision that Dayaben (Disha Wakani) is obtuse, yet persistent. On top of everything else, she repeats everything that happens. At least twice. Can’t let her inside the house, forget the bedroom.
The Mr Bharat Award
Jai Kishen/ Sanskar Dharohar Apnon Ki (Colors)
The bhola-bhala Jai Kishan (Jai Soni) is a true Indian at heart, forced to go abroad, more by circumstances than choice. He sticks to his traditional Gujarati roots and greets everyone with a ‘Jai Shri Krishna’ in New York. His cheesy, "Hum Indians galti karke sorry bolna jaante hain" dialogues remind you of the one and only original ‘Mr Bharat’.
The ‘hot chemistry’ award
Yash and Arti Sindhia/ Punar Vivaah (Zee TV)
Yash (Gurmeet Chaudhary) and Arti (Kratika Senger) get married to each other (a second innings for both). It’s a marriage of convenience, so sex is out of the question. She needs a father for her son and he needs a mother for his daughters. The only hitch: they have cracking chemistry (which gets accentuated when they accidentally brush past each other). It helps that he is quite hot in some scenes, and she is quite pretty. Typical Mills & Boon!
The ‘tubelight’ award
Amita Patel/ Amita ka Amit (Sony)
Amita (Chandini Bhagwanani) is so slow she’d put a snail to shame. Ask her something and here’s a typical response – she stares for five, thinks for another five, raises her eyebrows for the next five, opens her mouth (two minutes), sulks (add two more), raises her brows and then finally (we could have heated up dinner and had it by now) speaks. That’s when the episode ends.
The ‘Dadi cool’ award
Dadi/ Bade Achhe Laggte Hai (Sony)
Dadi (Rajinder Kaur Manchanda) loves all things round and eyes everything skinny with suspicion (that explains her doting love for ‘golu puttar’ Ram Kapoor, and dislike for his second wife Ayesha). She boisterously tattles away in her sweet Punjabi and has the softest soft spot for her grandson and ‘Priya puttar’ (granddaughter-in-law, Sakshi Tanwar). With everyone else, she sulks to get what she wants. She’s crazy about her family, but that’s what makes her so cool.
The ‘weapons of mass destruction’ award
Gokuldham Co-op Society/ Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah (Sab TV)
The residents of Gokuldham Co-op Society come with a promise of destruction. Fifteen or more of them stand in a perfect semi-circle, and after every development in the serial, respond to the said development, one after another, each one of them in their own peculiar voice, with their own peculiar facial expressions (and the responses are pretty peculiar too). Even if you flip five channels, you can come back in time to hear the next person’s response.
Disclaimer: Brunch goes to press roughly a week before its release. Any plot changes during this time are beyond our control (we wish they weren’t though).
Veenu Singh, Parul Khanna, Yashica Dutt, Shreya Sethuraman, Saudamini Jain, Manit Moorjani
From HT Brunch, March 10
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