Imagine the scenario if you can. A family has fallen on hard times. They now live in a sad little hovel. The father hobbles around and has a blood-stained bandage wrapped around his forehead, looking like he’s carrying the weight of the universe on his head (maybe that bandage is really heavy?).
The mother does mazdoori at a construction site, in order to earn a few rupees for her husband’s davaai. She totters on her feet as she carries heavy loads on her head, but of course the site overseer is a heartless monster who even denies the poor thing a few minutes to eat her rookhi-sookhi roti.
Naturally she falls ill (“tez bukhaar,” if you must know) and has to lie down in her sad little hovel, shivering, covered by a blanket, coughing intermittently. Now their little daughter has to go off bravely to do mazdoori in the hot sun and deal with the heartless supervisor who behaves, well, heartlessly. At the end of her day of mazdoori, she runs home to her little hovel with her meager earnings clutched in her hand (now for her father’s and her mother’s davaai). Then all three of them weep together while sad music wails in the background.
Doesn’t this seem straight out of one of those interminably tragic family drama films of the Sixties and Seventies where calamity after calamity befell some poor blighted family without a break? (The family that weeps together stays together!)
But in fact it’s straight out of a serial, circa 2009, and the only saving grace in Balika Vadhu (Colors) is that there are commercial breaks where you can see people smiling, and — even though you may have forgotten what it sounds like — laughing.
And I am as sure as Dadisa is a woman who could given even Lalita Pawar nightmares that Anandi and her parents will continue to face grievous misfortunes in the episodes to come — the meager earnings will get stolen, the mother will fall even more violently ill (instead of intermittent khaansi, she will develop a constant hacking cough), the davaai will be too expensive, the chemist will turn out to be a heartless monster and the hospital where they end up will be positively swarming with more such monsters, they will all cry enough to flood the Mithi river… and so on and so forth.
It’s just too bad that after bidding those rona-dhona movies a final, relieved goodbye, they’ve popped up again like Banquo’s ghost on our TV sets. And viewers are probably too busy sniffling and wiping their eyes to ask themselves the simple question, ‘Hey, is this entertaining? Is it enjoyable? Why am I watching it?’
I also watched 12/24 Karol Bagh on Zee with great anticipation, having been led to believe that this was the ‘Delhi’ serial which was going to transform all serials — it was not going to have women laden with 40 kilos of jewellery and 50 kilos of makeup, they were not going to live in a gaudy mansion, everything would be natural and refreshing.
Well, maybe the girls in 12/24 Karol Bagh wear simple salwar kameezes and maybe the house is very middle class, but the story and the characters are about as refreshing as a glass of flat cola.
The youngest daughter of the family could win, hands down, the title of Most Irritating Character Of The Year (okay, One Of The Most Irritating; there are many other contenders), since, episode after episode, all she does is diligently impersonate a very belligerent banshee.
And finally. Lil Champs (Zee) has some excellent child singers, but must they wear shiny silver jackets, sequined dresses, bow ties and talk and behave as if they were grown-ups who somehow remained midgets? Isn’t it possible to let kids be kids?