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Never expect too much of a soap opera

All those people who faithfully follow one (or more) Hindi soaps over months and years deserve a standing ovation.

tv Updated: Jul 13, 2012 23:39 IST
Poonam Saxena

All those people who faithfully follow one (or more) Hindi soaps over months and years deserve a standing ovation. Not because many of the soaps are bad — though that is true too; in which case the viewers don't deserve a standing ovation, the poor things deserve a lifetime's supply of decent TV shows to know what the real thing is.

But for the rest of the audience, following a serial regularly is fraught with danger and tension. Here's why.

You begin watching a show because the premise seems interesting. So do the characters and the story. But what a rough ride! Suddenly the show plunges downhill faster than a car tumbling down a cliff. Momentarily everything may stabilise and you sit up, hopeful and expectant once again (hey, maybe the director stopped hanging out with the people who made the worst soaps in the history of Indian TV and started moving around in better company). Only to have your hopes dashed again. And so on and so forth.

For example, when Abbas-Mustan, masters of the slick Hindi movie thriller format, decided to present a TV serial in the same genre, I was delighted. No way this could turn into a saas-bahu saga, I thought. How wrong I was. That's exactly what has happened.

Even before this ultimate degeneration, Chhal Sheh Aur Maat (Colors) had had so many plot twists and turns that anyone's brain could have turned into a corkscrew trying to keep track of what was going on and who was double crossing who (since that kept changing on an hourly basis). But at the end of it all, what's the grand denouement?

Saas-bahu eye-balling each other in every scene, both vowing to destroy the other. Been there, done that. For over ten years now. Can't. Take. It. Anymore.

Madhubala (also on Colors) began like a throwback to a Seventies melodrama, with the added charm of a high-voltage love story set in the film industry. More than a month down the line, all we've had is a lot of melodrama. The love story (rather hate story at the moment) is starting so slowly that by the time the stage is finally set for the lead pair to begin interacting (if that's the word) with each other, the audience might have long gone.

Star Plus's Iss Pyaar Ko Kya Naam Doon has had so many ups and downs, it could give a roller
coaster a complex. After a rocking start, this scorching love story held steady for several months. But suddenly, earlier this year, everything went kaput. To everyone's horror the show turned into an unbearable comedy: the heroine had a scary makeover into a screeching brat and the hero became like a pale shadow of his former self. Recently, the

serial has all of a sudden righted itself once again. The hot love story is back, amidst some high family drama. But what if they suddenly decide to turn it into a comedy once again, maybe a few months down the line? Do you blame viewers for feeling confused and frustrated?

Sony's Kuch Toh Log Kahenge began with much promise. And that's where it pretty much stayed — at a point where its potential never got realised. Now the show seems to have crashed — without a parachute.

And so it continues. If patience could get you sainthood, viewers who regularly follow serials would've been anointed long ago.

But as I said, at the very least they deserve a standing ovation.