Ten years ago, Star Plus went all Hindi. And as we know, several things happened. Kaun Banega Crorepati and saas-bahu serials became national obsessions. Amitabh Bachchan resurrected his fading career (and how — he’s still doing dozens of films and endorsements). Tulsi and gang became part of everyone’s extended family (but remember, those were the innocent days when the serial was still sweet and homely and Tulsi was half her current size). Anyway, Star Plus zoomed to the top and became the country’s No. 1 channel, which it remained till last year when it was unseated by new entrant Colors. After all those years, the channel had seemed a bit worn at the edges. Just like its soap-serial characters: Ba was about 150 years old, but miraculously still alive and kicking. Tulsi was still staggering from family crisis to family crisis. Parvati had had a makeover but no one could remember why. (That’s because the stories had got so convoluted that if anyone had actually tried to figure them out, their collective brain cells would’ve gone into fatal spasms. Thankfully, no one tried). But at the moment, as Star celebrates its tenth anniversary, things are looking good. The channel is back at the No. 1 position and while it’s unlikely that it will remain at that slot, unchallenged, for another ten years, it has reclaimed its numero uno title by a convincing margin — for the moment, at least.
Tulsi and Parvati have gone away (and not a day too soon) but both of them reappeared as Tulsi and Parvati at the recently telecast Star Parivaar Awards (where the new look of the channel was revealed — everything is a bright red now).
The two bahus spoke about how the Star parivaar is a very happy parivaar and everyone loves everyone and so on and so forth. I had no difficulty believing them because all the actors and actresses came dressed as their screen characters and were addressed by their screen names throughout. (Or maybe Akshara’s real name is Akshara and Dadaji is called Dadaji and nothing else but Dadaji off screen too — who knows?) I also have no idea what all these people look like in real life — I can’t believe that the women waltz around their homes in those 10 kg sarees the way they do in their soaps and serials. I was also a bit distracted by the awards themselves — there were categories like Favourite Saas and Favourite Bahu (naturally), but there were also awards for Favourite Buzurg, Favourite Bhai, Favourite Behen and so on. Because I have to watch soaps and serials (the things I have to do in the line of duty), I could actually recognise quite a few of the characters, but for viewers who aren’t plastered to their TV sets, it must have been a little like Alice in Wonderland.
Prominent guests in the audience included Ekta Kapoor who is back on Star Plus with a new serial Tere Liye (no, that’s not the way Ekta Kapoor spells it —but honestly, you don’t want to know). It’s a Bengali love story in that the characters are Bengali and it’s set in Bengal and has a heavy Parineeta-Devdas hangover. Whether it’s anywhere close to those two movies, well, we’ll have to wait and see.
And finally. Colors is not sitting around either, obligingly ceding its place to Star Plus. New shows include Kitchen Champion, a reality show anchored by Ronit Roy, in which female characters from Colors serials such as Balika Vadhu and Na Aana Is Des Lado participate in a cookery competition. Ronit is a warm, cheerful host and everyone looks like they’re having fun.
And so the channel wars continue!