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Why TV soaps are deserting the saas

Popular Hindi TV serials are questioning taboos, exploring issues such as remarriage, divorce and love across age gaps.

tv Updated: Mar 12, 2012 18:40 IST
Shreya Sethuraman
Shreya Sethuraman
Hindustan Times
TV soaps

Megha Vyas is a mother of two living in a joint family. Her father-in-law dotes on her, her children love her, but her sister-in-law loves to find fault with her.

Nothing new so far, for an Indian soap opera. But Vyas (Aakanksha Singh) is a widow, fighting to prove her husband’s innocence in a corruption case.

She is also the protagonist of Na Bole Tum Na Maine Kuch Kaha, a show on TV channel Colors. And co-starring is Kunal Karan Kapoor, who plays a crime reporter helping Vyas. The idea, of course, is to eventually have them fall in love.

Also broaching the subject of remarriage is Punar Vivah, Zee TV’s latest show, produced by Shashi and Sumeet Mittal. The protagonists are a divorcee and a widower played by Kratika Sengar and Gurmeet Chaudhary respectively. “The concept is different from the other shows on air, since here the two get married for the sake of their children, and how they deal with each other forms the crux of Punar Vivah,” says Sengar.

The show, which first aired in February, already has 7,000 likes on its Facebook page.

Widows and divorcees, in fact, are increasingly taking centrestage in a new crop of Hindi TV serials where the action is no longer concentrated in the kitchen or around saas-bahu (mother-in-law-daughter-in-law) politics.

“The saas-bahu saga was the first phase of shows on television. Now audiences are accepting different concepts,” says Sudhir Sharma, producer of Na Bole Tum... “Besides, we’re not stressing on Megha being a widow. It’s just a mature love story.”

Sharma adds that, though the theme of most shows is love, interpretations have changed.

The formula is obviously working.

Na Bole Tum’s Facebook page has more than 9,000 likes.

“Such serials are refreshing. Here you have a widow fighting to clear her husband’s name, sans any rona-dhona [sobbing]. There is no unnecessary domestic politics either,” says Delhi-based architect Priya Iyer, a soap opera junkie.

Another show that has won over audiences is Kuch Toh Log Kahenge (KTLK), a remake of the popular Pakistani TV serial, Dhoop Kinare. The show follows two doctors, played by Mohnish Bahl and Kritika Kamra, who are 18 years apart in age, but fall in love.

Lawyer Urvashi Singh, an ardent fan of Bahl, loves the show. “The hesitation of Bahl’s Dr Ashutosh and the spontaneity of Kamra’s Dr Nidhi are very natural. The show is certainly better than the reality shows that we’re so used to,” she says.

Rajan Shahi, who produced KTLK, credits the changing stories to better writing and better actors.

“We had mature shows earlier, in serials such as Hasratein and Astitva. But then there we saw a phase of bankruptcy of plots,” says Shahi. “Now, with shows such as KTLK, even the youth can relate to the plot.”