By Naseer A Ganai
Indian TV serial never ends.Even one thousand episodes doesn't satiate a mother-in-law. She goes on to conspire against her daughter-in-law. The KGB and the CIA have made peace after the cold war, but even after great grandchildren in home, Saas of Indian Telivision serial continues to point out that Bahu, which herself is now a mother-in-law, doesn't know how to cook. The war continues.
In Indian TV serials you don’t remember who has affair with whom and who is sleeping with whom and who is conspiring against whom. Watching Indian TV drama is like being in an espionage centre where everyone is alert and thinking how to counter the conspiracy of the other. There you see lot of affairs; extra-marital ones are a rage. Mothers are so young that they put their daughters to shame. At times, mother and daughter date the same person!
Marriage is an important component of TV serial. The marriage scene can last for two years. The relatives of bride visiting to see the groom before engagement ceremony will surely consume ten episodes; their tea at would-be groom’s house another ten; then groom enters the room to greet the guests another ten; then the groom’s actions portraying himself as meek and cultured fellow another ten; after the tea break, suddenly Pooja is held at the groom’s house which will take another ten episodes; Dadi Ma’s recitation of Bhajan will definitely take at least three more episodes and one of the guests from the bride’s side falls for the groom will also get five episodes as she would go into reverie and dream about roaming with the groom in his limousine. It will take another five episodes.
And a time comes that you forget who was groom and who he was going to marry?And when the bride comes into the scene, another hundred episodes are devoted to her engagement ceremony and the tragedy, tears and emotions it brings along. The ring ceremony is so elaborate an event that even US secret agencies don’t do such reconnaissance in Kabul when the president Obama visits Afghanistan as the two parties in an Indian TV drama do. Here every minute detail matters. All Kakas and Kakis are in hurry, tense and giving fake smiles in heavily dressed costume, seeing whether Mehandi is ready or not!
Then discussion on how an engagement ring should look like and whether it should be brought before Pooja or after Pooja, and whether Dadaji will give blessings before going for shopping of the ring becomes hot issues and so many round table conferences are devoted to it. And after completing all rituals and getting consent from Dadaji, they proceed to the jewellery shop. The director, however, devotes another five episodes to the shop and how good the shopkeeper is. At times, he takes the viewers to his family and forgets that someone is going for an engagement and waiting at the jewellers shop to buy a ring!
And once the ring reach home, then Shalini (would be bride) conveys her betrothal Ajay about the feat. And while talking with Ajay, she hangs up phone as her ex-boyfriend, Sahil, enters the scene. The director then takes the viewer to Shalini and Sahil’s past. They were in an affair during which Sahil suddenly goes to the US, promising to come back soon, but never returned.
He gives her some tight hugs and then informs her that he was in the US where he handles his dad’s business. He has come to India for some Rs 1000 crore deal and once deal will get finalised, he will leave. She smiles. And for the next ten episodes, this Indian born American businessman dominates the scene. Meanwhile, Ajay joins in after hearing that Sahil is in Shalini’s house these days, but he instantly falls in love with Sahil’s girlfriend. Shalini now delays the ring ceremony, so does Ajay. Somehow, Dadiji realises something is seriously going wrong. She calls them and reminds them about Indian culture and ethos.
Dadiji moves them to tears and they stick to their original partners. The American leaves the scene with his beauty. Here ring ceremony takes place. Then the marriage, but after years amid hundreds of other affairs in between. And once Shalini lands in the groom’s house, she finds it a huge housewith several Ramu kakas and Mousis doing the homely chores and several Bahus while as Dadaji administering the affairs of home. He monitors which Bahu is conspiring against whom, who is skipping Pooja and which Bahu is cunning, which is meek, and then again religious rituals take place where all the family assembles and Dadaji gives lecture about Indian sabrita.
It doesn't end there. Papu, son of Badi Bahu, gets hurt while playing and all Bahus rush to the hospital. The bonhomie and camaraderie returns. But it doesn't last long. The Choti Bahu didn't get time to visit the hospital as she was busy cooking for 50 plus family along with cool domestic servants. Choti Bahu is epitome of selflessness and honesty. But other four Bahus don’t like her as she is the favourite of Dadaji. They accuse her of being indifferent to Papu’s injury. But Papu too loves her. And this goes on and on.
Now look at Pakistan TV serials. Houses are like houses, not like hotels. There is no overdose of religious rituals. In fact, there is nothing like that. Dadaji and Nani are like they look in real life. Marriages do take place. They also break. But it all happens in one episode.
Maat completed in 25 episodes. And it looked so cool. In India, they could have dragged Maat to eternity, giving it Shah Maat. That is why you feel lively when watching Pakistani serials on Zee Zindagi. Their characters fall in love and you realise that once upon a time, you too fell in love, but you didn’t succeed. They have same insecurities and fears which we have. They don’t talk about Rs 1000 crores after every phone call.
Their stories are tight and powerful. And their stories are about life, unlike Indian channels where religious rituals are predominant in every drama. Watching Zee Zindagi is so refreshing that you want to fall in love, once again. That is why Indian TV serials look sham and Bakwas when you comapre them with Zindagi Gulzar Hai.