Could Amitabh Bachchan's Yudh on Sony TV play the messiah Indian television needs so terribly? For a nation sedated with mindless
serials, or with star-crossed lovers struggling with their permutations and combinations, Yudhishtir Sikarwar is indeed a welcome change.
Yudh's success or failure is not the point. Never mind the excruciating, slow pace the plot unfolded in the beginning, and its inevitable comparison with another big-screen idol Anil Kapoor's 24.
The TRPs it eventually generates is immaterial as long as Amitabh Bachchan and the rest of the marquee cast is able to inspire others to even consider things beyond bedroom politics or puppy romance.
WATCH: MAKING OF YUDH
Why can't we narrate stories like they do in the west? A random survey of hardcore serial watchers tired of surviving on Torrent downloads for foreign serials, throws up the same old recurring questions: why do we have to put up with Bade Achche Lagte Hain (it's over now, praise the lord) and not have something like Big Bang Theory? Or even a toned-down version of Two-and-Half Men (no sexual innuendos please, we are Indians)? Some even lament that we don't have anything to come even remotely close to the British whodunit Broadchurch, or the Danish political drama Borgen.
Too far-fetched? Can we then at least have something on the lines of Lost, Friends, ER, CSI, Grey's Anatomy, Prison Break, Heroes….?
Instead, what do we have every night? - " There is a surfeit of similar-looking, even similar-sounding 'serials' across channels. Watch some of them for a week, and you question your own intelligence. TV today is almost like a departmental store: you go to buy soap, and are left confused which one to go for. They are all packaged differently, each with a unique tagline, but at the end of the day, they all do the same thing. The soap, we mean!"
The name of the game is to scramble to the top of the TRPs. Naturally then, the original plot and the storyline takes a backseat, and unnecessary twists and surprises are inserted to get maximum eyeballs. Balika Vadhu, anyone? It started off with a take on child marriage, and everybody sat up to take notice. What did it eventually veer to? An unmanageable threesome between the husband, wife and his lover!
"Never kill the golden goose, even if it is old and invalid! Once you've got the eyeballs, keep stretching the plot with ridiculous twists. The stories in our serials never end, just that they keep getting newer characters."
And then you have cross-cultural promotions. As if film stars coming to Comedy Nights with Kapil to promote their upcoming film was not enough, we now even have two serials merging into each other: go see CID and Tarak Mehta Ka Ulta Chashma and get irritated at being taken for granted.
We don't know if Yudh is a result of the success of Anil Kapoor's 24. Whatever, the fact is that its time television producers didn't depend only on TRPs while making their strategies: Indian audience is intelligent enough to appreciate innovative fiction, strong storylines, and even acting. Budget, we assume, is not the issue here: each Yudh episode, we are told, apparently costs something around Rs 3 crore each!
Could Yudh mark the coming-of-age of Indian television? Perhaps yes, even if one were to believe that it has a bold, tantalising 'lesbian' scene! Here's waiting for the plot to unfold faster, sooner.