Now that the IPL is finally over, entertainment channels are gradually launching all their new shows. It’s good timing for another reason too — given the ferocity of the heat (at least in the north, where temperatures have crossed 45 degrees Celsius), most people are too drained of energy by the end of the day to do anything except sit motionless in front of the TV, limply clutching the remote in one hand.
So let’s start with Sony. By the time you read this column, the latest season of Indian Idol would have already begun. If you are a fan of Hindi film music, this is a show you’ve probably been watching for the past few years. It’s in its sixth season now and though the show fluctuates depending on the quality of the singers, it’s worth watching off and on even if you’re not a faithful viewer. The added attraction this season: Along with the three regular judges — singer Sunidhi Chauhan, and music composers Salim Merchant and Anu Malik — there’s a special new judge: Asha Bhonsle. Now that should be something to look forward to.
Sony’s other new show is a serial called Byaah Hamari Bahu Ka. A title with the words byaah and bahu in it doesn’t bode well for the show even if the title is a bit puzzling. How can a family get its own bahu married? Isn’t she already married to a boy from the family?
Byaah Hamari Bahu Ka features a very traditional, very vegetarian Gujarati family that lives in one of those grand TV homes (sets?) where the living room is the size of a maidan. Since no TV Gujarati family is complete without its own ba, there’s a mother-in-law here too, though she’s more banshee than ba. No dialogue — even if it’s something as innocuous as ‘Come here’ or ‘Have you seen my box?’ — can be delivered without bringing the house down. Sorry, not cute.
An aside: Apparently Sony’s Bade Achche Lagte Hain is taking a time leap at the end of the month. Finally, what we feared all along has happened: Producer Ekta Kapoor has revealed her true colours. The whole excitement over Bade Achche Lagte Hain when it began was that it was so different from the other TV serials: it was a mature love story between two headstrong people who’d started off on the wrong foot. Recently, the two declared their love for each other and this confession was followed by a very romantic, much-publicised consummation of their marriage. Instead of continuing with the promise of the original story (a grown-up prem kahani, with two of television’s most experienced and competent actors playing the lead roles), Ekta has fallen back on that tired, tiresome, unbelievably boring plot device of a time leap that she has used in 40,000 shows before. She has been quoted as saying it wasn’t possible to keep the show exciting in its current form, it had to take a time leap to stay interesting. There’s another word (rather, two words) for it: creative bankruptcy.
Entertainment channel Colors, which has picked up steam recently, just launched its most ambitious show to date: Madhubala, a love story set in the Hindi film industry. I’ve watched all the episodes till now and — from the way the credits are done to the characters to the storytelling — I’m constantly reminded of a seventies film. What Madhubala does not remind me of is a TV serial. For that alone, it deserves a medal. I’m looking forward to seeing how this one turns out.