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Why soaps are deserting the saas

Television soaps are questioning taboos, focusing on issues such as remarriage and divorce. Shreya Sethuraman writes.
Hindustan Times | By Shreya Sethuraman
UPDATED ON APR 25, 2012 11:22 AM IST

She's a mother of two and lives in a joint family. Her father-in-law dotes on her, her children love her, and her sister-in-law loves to find fault with her. Nothing new as far as a typical Indian soap is concerned. Only, Megha Vyas (Aakanksha Singh) is a widow, fighting to prove her husband's innocence in a corruption case. Singh is the protagonist of Na Bole Tum Na Maine Kuch Kaha, a show on the channel Colors. It also stars Kunal Karan Kapoor as a crime reporter, who aids Vyas. The idea is also to make them fall in love, of course.

Zee TV's latest show, Punar Vivaah produced by Shashi and Sumeet Mittal, broaches the subject of remarriage. The protagonists of the show 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 Vivaah," says Sengar. The show, which first aired in February, already has 2,000 likes on its Facebook page.

What is worth mentioning is that such characters (widows/divorcees) are now playing lead roles. Shows are no longer centred around the kitchen, or on the usual saas-bahu politics.

Delhi-based architect Priya Iyer, a soap junkie says, "Serials like Na Bole Tum are refreshing. Here you have a widow, fighting to clear her husband's name, sans any rona-dhona. There is no unnecessary politics either," she says. The show's Facebook page is liked by more than 8,600 people.

Sudhir Sharma, producer of Na Bole Tum says, "The saas-bahu saga was the first phase of shows on television. Now audiences are accepting different concepts. Besides, we're not stressing on Megha being a widow. It's just a mature love story." Sharma says though the theme of most shows is love, interpretations have changed.

Another show that has won over audiences is Kuch Toh Log Kahenge (KTLK), a remake of the Pakistani hit serial, Dhoop Kinare. The show centres around two doctors, played by Mohnish Bahl and Kritika Kamra, who are 18 years apart in age, and fall in love. Lawyer Urvashi Singh, a fan of Bahl since his Sanjeevani days, loves the show. "The hesitation of Bahl's Dr Ashutosh and the spontaneity of Kamra's Dr Nidhi is very natural. The show is clearly 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 good actors. "We had mature shows earlier, in serials like Hasratein and Astitva. But then there we saw a phase of bankruptcy of plots," Shahi says. He's happy that with KTLK, "even the youth can relate to the show."

One can only hope these refreshing new themes and characters continue, without regressing into the tragic, tear-laden soaps from a decade ago.

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