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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Banoo Main Teri Dulhan on Zee

This is a programme that appears on 8 PM weekdays on Zee. Like most hindi serials, it has stretched too long and should have set a mission of ending when things seemed to be on a clear track, but apparently not. I remember a time on Doordarshan when serials were assigned 13 episodes, and then given extensions if required, but then came some soap operas such as Hum Log and Buniyaad that had open ended stories, meaning that you could stretch the serial for decades if you wanted. 2 serials, Kyunki Saas Bhi Bahu Thi and Kumkum on Star seem to be heading for that goal.
This serial also has the same standard things, a young idealistic sweet girl gets married into a rich family, and then has to suffer for some reason or the other. The plus points about this serial are that 2 newcomers, from the talent hunt Zee Cinestar ki Khoj have been selected for the main parts, the couple who are at the center of the who going-ons.
In a nutshell, the serial is about this illiterate girl from Benaras, Vidya (Divyanka) who is happy when she is getting married into the rich Thakur household as part of an earlier agreement. But her happiness gets disturbed when she realizes that her to-be-husband, Sagar (Sharad Malhotra) is mentally challenged and appears to have the same mental abilities as a child. But she anyhow agrees to this marriage. She is seen to be the ultimate Indian women, dedicated to her husband, respectful to elders, unable to do any trickery, crying a lot when she sees injustices being done to her (and there are an awful lot); in short, not like any Indian girl you may know.
And then starts her journey? What do you do when you are married to somebody who does not know what marriage means, and especially when you husband is influenced by his bitchy sister, Kamya (Kamya Punjabi) who is out to make life miserable for Vidya in all ways.
And there keep on complications happening in the serial, such as the arrival of a girl with a child whom she claims is Sagar's, who is like a child himself and certainly would not know as to how a child happens. So there is DNA testing, and mis-reporting and so on. Eventually Sagar starts getting attracted to her, but that is another story.
I have to confess, I watch the serial only when I am there in front of the TV at that time, and don't make any extra effort to watch it. The serial is (a bit) unbelievable and one wonders whether it will ever show the proper human emotions around trying to handle an adult with a child's mind.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Thodi Si Zameen, Thoda Aasman

You can think of this show as the one that caused the split between Smriti Irani and Ekta Kapoor. No matter what they might say publicly, there is an incredible amount of buzz that it was the decision of Smriti Irani to turn producer and launch this serial (Thodi Si Zamee, Thoda Aasman) and Viruddh that caused the split between them. Initially Ekta was the co-producer of this show, but that soon stopped. And then the story of Kyunki Saas Bhi Bahu Thi was changed to accomodate a plastic surgery for Tulsi so that Smriti Irani could move away from the character.
Was this serial good enough that Smriti Irani gave up Kyunki... ? I would say no. Viruddh is far more powerful, this serial is much tamer than I thought it would be. The storyline is somewhat different from the others, although you have the familiar themes a rich family that covets the property (land) of poor people, of a conniving brother-in-law who will stop at nothing to get what he wants, and of an autocractic mother-in-law who wants to get it all, and will not bear anybody in the household defying her.
Smriti Irani plays the role of Uma, a young girl/woman living in a slum cluster, where the people were dependent on a mill that has shut down. She is again more of an ideal woman, taking care of her family, and when married to Sudhanshu Jajodia (Kiran Karmarkar), who is a mentally unbalanced person. She takes care of him in the household after the marriage, over the schemes and bullying of her mother-in-law and brother-in-law Dushyant (Harsh Chayya). She is supported by her younger sister-in-law, Dushyant's wife who does not like the moral character of Dushyant. The Jajodia's want to get the slum land vacated, and Uma wants to resist this at all costs, as she does not want to make the people living their homeless.
The serials has all the usual twists and turns, although in this serial people do not casually mention loaning or borrowing Rs. 100 crores, but somehow the serial never catches on in terms of excitement. You get to see the pain, the adversity, but I don't think it is easy to identify with the character played by Uma. There are some unrealistic scenes such as the one where she is accused of having an affair with a helpful lawyer, and her mother does not believe her innocence.
And in twists, the lawyer has been murdered, and apparently killed by a number of people; further, Uma's husband has apparently turned against her, he wants to protect the Jajodia family name. Seems a bit ungrateful to give up a wife who has stood by you in thick and thin, but then that's a serial where there has to be masala added. The serial comes on Saturday and Sunday at 10:30 PM on Star. I would not be surprised if it does not have good TRP's.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Kasauti Zindagi Kay videos

If you a fan of Mr. Bajaj, Prerna, Aparna, Basu, and want videos, then for videos of Kasauti Zindagi Kay (a long running serial on Star Plus at 8:30 PM weekdays), you can refer to the following locations:

AOL Video & AOL Video2

YouTube1 & YouTube2

Google Videos1 & Google Videos 2

If you use torrents, then refer to this site

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Ghar ki Lakshmi Betiyaan

This is the popular 10 PM weekday serial on Zee. It also clashes with another programme on Star Plus, on the same theme (Betiyaan, Apni Ya Paraaya Dhan), namely that of a household having a strong patriarch (father) and of more daughters in the house than sons. And this in a household that values sons much more daughters. So, with 2 serials of the same nature, there was bound to be a clash, and it happened in the nature of a legal skirmish between Zee and Star before the serials started. Anyhow, there was an out-of-court settlement, and now both serials are ongoing.
Ghar ki Lakshmi Betiyaan is about the sexism that occurs in a number of families in India, and shows this in a form that is truly horrific. I don't know whether the intention of the serial was to be so blatant about it, but the first few months of the serial were an absolute horror to watch, what with a father being so blatant about his preference for a son over the daughters that he has. He is shown favouring his son in everything and absolutely uncaring about the wishes of his daughters. Is this a realistic portrayal of things happening in India? In urban areas, among the families I have seen, I don't remember any family having such a warped mindset, but with such prevalence of dowry and female infanticide, it is quite possible that such things happen a lot.
However, the serial seems to have toned down this part of the discrimination a bit, and actually shown the lead characters to be capable of revenge, and of playing a part in the betterment of conditions in their house, so maybe the serial makers thought that things were going too awry.
So what's the story? There is this father, Suryakant Garodia (Yatin Karyekar), whose word is law in his family. He is married to Savitri and he already has 3 daughters, and he is positively impatient for a boy. He is assured that the next child is going to be a boy, but come Diwali time and a daughter is born, called Lakshmi. Suryakant is absolutely horrified by this, and with the approval of his mother, he re-marries and gets Menka (Tanushree Datta) to the house as his second wife (illegal of course).
She is of course, shrewish. She gives birth to a son, and is always on the lookout for how to get primacy in the house, especially since she is the second wife. It is easier since the first wife has only daughers, and the clear assumptions is that the daughters are paraya dhan, that is, they are meant to go to somebody else's house as brides, and are not expected to play any major role in this house. That is something that is ever clear to them, both in terms of future (they will get married) and in terms of their status in the house. This situation is all the more galling, even more since there would be households where something similar happens, and anybody practising such a thing will be easily able to justify such practises.
Well, they grow up, and the eldest one, Saraswati (Kshitee Jog) gets married. Lots of joys in the house, with an extended marriage preparation, although with a lot of drama related to the daughters. However, Saraswati's marriage turns out to be a disaster, with her husband, Bhavishya, turning out to be a nutcase. He tortures her in different ways, and finally burns her. Saraswati comes back to her house, and her mother, who is totally subservient to her husband, supports her in this. In the matter of getting revenge, Saraswati works with her sister, Laxmi (Twinkle Bajpai). Laxmi, even though she is the youngest, is supposed to be the most wise person, and not willing to take any wrongs lying down. The idea is that these sisters will start to show their true colors, in terms of doing good things, solving issues and proving their worth to their father.
However, the biggest issue that I have with such serials is the fact that they take a family situation which is absolutely retrogade, and any improvements in the situation will not happen for months or years, till which time one sees prime-time serials displaying discrimination at its worst.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Doordarshan nostalgia: Byomkesh Bakshi

I was watching the second run of Karamchand on Sony a few weeks back, and started wondering about the other detective serials that we see. There is the strange CID, but my memories went back to that serial from long ago, Byomkesh Bakshi. It brought back a lot of nostalgia. The year was 1993, and satellite channels were just picking up. Doordarshan was still watched by a number of people, and here comes this non-flashy detective serial, starring Rajit Kapur. The director was Basu Chaterjee, which was another plus point about the serial.
The series was based on a detective created in 1932, by the Bengali author Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay. The detective was picturized in a film (Chiriyakhana or The Zoo) by Satyajit Ray, starring Uttam Kumar in 1967, and the movie is typically known as one of Satyajit Ray's not so better movies. And then came this series, and the series was what made the character of Byomkesh Bakshi famous.
The series is based on the character of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but not completely. The character has his own life and peculiarities, and is based in the social system of the time. The character like Sherlock does not work in the police, but otherwise does not make money from this hobby; he is not an expert in things such as footprints, cigar ash, finger prints, is not addicted to nicotine. He is however an expert thinker, keenly aware of things going on in an case and capable of doing the analytical analysis necessary for resolving a case.
The interesting thing about the series was the setting of Bengal of that time, where you don't have too many modern scientific DNA and other analysis, just the razor sharp thinking and quick analysis; and I really cottoned onto Rajit Kapur's acting (I also liked his role in the Aamir starred Ghulam), he played the part with perfection, and it is a shame that he is not seen more often in movies and TV (instead restricting himself to the stage).
So what was the series all about? Well, like a detective series, it was all about going-on's where the police was unable to resolve things, and Byomkesh declares himself to have the noble profession of being a truth seeker. Byomkesh meets his lifelong friend Ajit in one of the episodes, and they start sharing a flat. They get many leads from the newspaper, including from the ads. In one of the episodes, Byomkesh meets the woman who goes onto to become his wife.
Episodes of the serial can be watched at this website, or at YouTube.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Some videos of Kasam Se

If you are looking to get videos of Kasam Se, there is no single place that offers these videos in a good categorized place, but after some searching, here is a list of places that have these videos, so if you are a fan of Jai and Bani and of Kasam Seh, try these out:

1. Desivideos

2. Zippyprofiles

3. Google Videos

4. Youtube

5. Star Forum

Kahani Ghar Ghar ki: Finally some conclusions

No, it does not mean that the serial will end. A serial, running at the prime time of 10 PM every day on Star Plus, is too hot an item to terminate. Putting a new serial in at this time would be like opening the slot for rivals to try and put something better on Zee or Sony to take advantage. But, if one looks at the serial, this is a good current position to try and bring the serial to an end.
For the past long time, the serial has been moving on the leg of one story, the conflict between Parvati/Janaki (Sakshi Tanwar) and Trishna (Mita Vashist). The current conflict has its roots in a story developing over the past several years in the serial. Parvati and Om (Kiran Karmarkar) had a happy marriage; then they suddenly revealed that Om had to get married due to circumstances to Trishna (she was mentally disturbed) and Om owed many debts to her father.
Then this became known to other house people, including Parvati. Om dies. Parvati, being good and so on, gets Trishna married to the younger brother Kamal. It slowly becomes clear that Trishna had got Om killed, and she manages to manipulate things such that people in the household believe (incredible thing) that Parvati had a hand in the killing of Om.
Cut to 18 years later in a time leap. Parvati is believed dead, and Trishna has taken control of the house, crushing the spirits of everyone in the house. Kamal is a drunkard. Parvati re-enters in the form of Janaki (along with Aruna Irani as her mentor - they really try to play the theme of Krishna/ Arjuna and the Mahabharat/ Gita with the concept of fighting against her own relatives and defeating Trishna). No specific source is shown for Janaki's wealth.
And here is the tussle, rather than go in for a facial surgery and change of character as every other K serial seems to be doing, Janaki sports the same face as Parvati, causing immense confusion amongst everyone. She plays an arrogant rich women to whom Trishna is beholden, while at the same time pretending to be uncaring of everything Trishna does against her relatives. Of course, she is still a good daughter-in-law, so she manages to always help them against Trishna.
And then the climax. For some time, I was actually enjoying the serial where there was this confrontation going on, and knew that this could be stretched on for another year or so, and then suddenly there was this episode on Friday where Parvati's daughter confronts her with a gun (accusing her of trying to provoke her son away), and Trishna is watching, content to let mother and daughter kill each other. A shot goes off, light goes off, and Tina Pareikh (Shruti - Parvati's daughter) is on the floor with a buller wound in the abdomen, sure to die. And then, Trishna, apparently not having heard of sting shows, speaks her mind to Parvati/Janaki, admitting every crime that she did and claiming that Parvati cannot do a thing.
Well, as you watch the expression on Parvati's face, you know that there must be a TV camera somewhere, and sure enough there is a TV suddenly popping up, showing off the confession. Dutifully, the lights come on, the entire family troops in, and Shruti gets up. After a few slaps from assorted people to Trishna, the police lead her away. Now, if only the serial makers consider this a good conclusion and terminate the serial soon after, but we all know that this will not happen ...

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Finally Tulsi departs from the serial

Which serial am I talking about? Well, for watchers of the Indian serial drama, there will be a number of people who know exactly what I am talking about, Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, one of the longest running serials (if not the longest running serials) on Indian TV. And one of the biggest stars to emerge from this serial has been the character of 'Tulsi', the daughter-in-law who holds the entire family together. The characters has been incredibly popular across the world. As an example, Afghanistan runs a dubbed version of the series, and feedback is that even though the portrayal is typically Indian, it is reasonably clear to some of the situations in other societies.
The character of Tulsi so far had been played by Smriti Irani, who has been in the serial for around 40 plus years of her life (the serial has gone through two 20 year leaps), so she has played a young bride, going on to play a grand-mother. Smriti Irani has become very known and popular through this serial, in fact going on to become a politician representing the BJP.
And now? Well, intense media speculation is that Smriti Irani's efforts to turn into a producer herself (serials: Thodi Se Zameen Thoda Sa Aasman and Viruddh) has made the relationship between her and Ekta Kapoor ( the creator of the K serials of Balaji Telefilms) rocky, and led to her exit from KSBKBT (Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi).
So, ever since rumour of the exit started making the rounds, the serial started moving into a different direction. Tulsi started getting into more scraps with her family, people who were sympathetic to her started abandoning her, her bahus started hating the way she controlled the family, etc. In some time, it started becoming clear that all the rumours were true, and the time has come for her exit. And this is what happened. Her 3 bahus, 2 of whom were true followers of her, got together, planned a series of steps against her (like the 3 evil witches of Macbeth) and then eventually got her admitted to an asylum, from where she tried to escape and apparently dies. So, the end of Tulsi.
Well, not actually, instead the idea was not to get rid of the character, but to get rid of Smriti Irani. So, 6 months passed by in an episode, and then the easiest way to get rid of an actor playing an important role happened. There was the need to have a plastic surgery (never mind that a plastic surgery only changes the face in Hindi serials or English movies such as Face Off; in reality a plastic surgery changes some of the elements in a face, and not the complete face). So, Tulsi is back, in the shape of Gautani Kapoor, who takes over as a thinner Tulsi (earlier speculation was that Padmini Kolhapure could be brought in to take the role of Tulsi).
Another thing struck me; are these serials so little planned in advance ? Not much of a story of what the serial will look like say in a year from now ? As an example, when Smriti Irani needs to depart from the show, around 2 months of serial time will go in planning the serial in such a way that each episode moves the serial towards a turn where Smriti can leave; 2 full months of aimless wandering around to get rid of an actor. Sounds strange, does it not ?
To watch some episodes of the serial, go to YouTube.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

TV show Giant Robot: Real fun for kids

I am slowly going into nostalgia mode, and may evoke some memories in people who were kids when Doordarshan was the single channel on TV, and when there was a serial called 'Giant Robot' that would come on TV. Nowadays, there are such a lot of cartoon channels, but at that time, there was this show among the few that would be coming on TV which was of interest specifically to children (along with Spiderman, and a few others). From what I recall, it used to come in the late afternoon. This is actually a very old serial, which was created in Japan in the late 60's, became a craze in the US in the 70's and then was recycled here in India by Doordarshan in the 80's. But all this does not matter really, nobody cares whether this was recycled or not. There was the thrill of watching it, and it used to get tense when you had to go somewhere (parental pressure or something else unavoidable), and how am I going to be able to miss this episode, and wait for the next episode ?
When the time would come to watch it, all other activity would cease, including playing out and being with friends (I mean, you could still be with friends, but watching the TV for this cartoon).
Now I that remember it, you would not catch anybody of this generation dead watching it. It was not glitzy, the effects were not great, animation was no big deal, and the plot was laughable, but who cares. If you really want to read in details about Giant Robot, then refer to Wikipedia.
So what was it about? It was about this boy called Johnny Sokko who, through a complicated sequence of events, came into control of a giant robot that was capable of flying, and firing a large number of different types of weapons (I remember the laser that would come out of its eyes). Why does this boy need a robot ? Well, because ever since he got control of this robot (using his watch as a controller), he became a member of a group called the Unicorn.
Unicorn in turn was fighting to save the earth from the clutches of a group called the Gargoyle (commanded by an alien emperor called Guillotine). Gargoyle has a number of members, and are responsible for creating monsters that would rampage on earth.
If you want to watch some clips of Giant Robot, then watch it on YouTube
I wonder how many people were really interested in the story of this serial? I for one primarily watched it because
- It had a large robot that could fly and do a number of destructive things
- There was usually a battle involving some monster
- It had tension, with usually the robot managing to save things in the end

If you are interested in this series, you can buy them from Amazon:

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Anybody remember 'Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi' ?

Imagine the surprise, I change channels around 8:30 on the morning, and on Star Gold (I think, not fully sure about the channel) I see a serial long lost from memory. The familiar figures of Satish Shah, Swaroop Sampat and Rakesh Bedi on screen, and the serial looking old. This has to be .. 'Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi'. I watched the whole episode with rapt attention, it was about Renu (Swaroop) and Raja (Rakesh Bedi) trying to get some money to pay insurance premium for Renu's husband Ranjit (the late Shafi Inamdar) who is out on some business trip. They rent out a room to Satish Shah and then an aunt Farida Jalal came along. To tell the truth, I did not laugh as much as I used to when originally watching the serial (a long long time back), but I still found it funny.
The serial brought out a fair amount of nostalgia. This serial used to come on Doordarshan a long time back (starting in 1985) and used to be very popular. Doordarshan at that time used to only start making some sense around 7 PM (starting with Krishi Darshan, which I don't know anyone watching) and then would have some serials and of course Chitrahaar (one day of the week initially). Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi was one of the more popular ones.
If you look at it now, the sets will seem ordinary, acting will seem okay, the stars will not wear fancy clothes or jewellery and talk about obscene sums of money; but the serial was fun. It basically starred the following people - Shafi Inamdar as Ranjit, Swaroop Sampat as Renu (his wife), Raja as her brother (Rakesh Bedi), Satish Shah as the chameleon (in each episode, he would play a different character), Ranjit's boss (Tikku Talsania), the chachi (Farida Jalal).
These people, on a low budget and lots of effort and time shooting ended up making a serial (directors being Kundan Shah and Manjul Sinha) that was exceedingly well acclaimed and ended up making celebrities and giving the actors a very good reputation.
Even the title track of Yeh Jo Hai, Yeh Jo Hain Zindagi (sung by Kishore Kumar) turned out to be very popular. The serial ran for a couple of seasons, got dropped for some time, and then came back, but was not so popular the second time. Eventually the serial shut down.

Enjoy Nautanki TV