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What makes Indian soaps look like train

Neither do the characters age nor does the world around them look any different from the present in Indian TV soaps.

india Updated: May 09, 2006 22:08 IST

Are daily soaps inspired by trains? Let us explain the seemingly ludicrous question. Once a train picks up speed, it seems like it is standing still while the scenery outside moves.

Similarly, when the daily soaps jump 20 years overnight, it seems like they haven't moved at all. Neither do the characters age nor does the world around them look any different from the present.

It is amazing how the characters hold on to their youth, no matter how old they are. Look at the recently-turned-old couple Sumeet and Kumkum from Kumkum - Ek Pyara Sa Bandhan, for example.                                                         

A still from the Star Plus teleserial Kasautii Zindagi Kay

Although their children are old enough to get married, the pair look as young as they had first got married. On the other hand, Tulsi from Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi showed signs of ageing only in terms of her increasing waistline after the show took the first time jump.

One can only hope that the character will be given a slightly older look after the second leap takes place in June.

And none of the Bajaj or Basu clan from Kasautii Zindagi Kay, which moved forward by 20 years some time back, have any plans of adding an extra grey hair or wrinkle to their looks, as well. The time warp is also applicable to setting.

With no proper time frame to refer to one cannot really make up one's mind about how to categorise the soaps. Are they futuristic or regressive - the characters use the same mobile phones and cars now and 20 years later?

While the most common cell phone model on the idiot box is the Nokia 6600, it is the Opel Corsa or the Honda City that seems to be the most preferred vehicle for characters, no matter which time they live in.

In the midst of it all is the concept of fashion, where the styles keep changing according to the present trends, irrespective of the past or the future as is being depicted.

For example, the fish-cut sari, that has become quite fashionable right now, is donned by the women quite often.

Writers of serials see no point in depicting a change in milieu as time passes by. "We are essentially a family drama and aren't a sci-fi show.

The time jump is all about showing a different aspect of the character's lives. "How they deal with challenges in their old age is more important than where they deal with it," says Anil Nagpal, the writer of Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi.

They also feel that a futuristic setting could be risky for the show's popularity. "The audience won't be able to relate to the show anymore if we incorporate strange gizmos just to portray a future date.

The focus has to stay on the characters rather than on the world around them," says Fatima, who writes Kasautii Zindagi Kay.

But what about the fact that even the characters' looks don't change with age?

"There is no reason that one cannot look attractive at an older age.

There are several people who manage to maintain themselves perfectly even when they become grandparents," replies Rajesh Chaddha, supervising producer of Kumkum. Besides, which all this would mean too much hard work, right?