All that ends well

Unreal? Actually, TV serials do not come close to the brutishness of reality

DO YOU think our TV serials have got it right after all? That we needlessly criticise them for being as distant from reality as earth is from the moon? If Ponty Chadha and his brother could allegedly come to blows and bullets, what's to fuss about Anushka aiming at her rival Mona and killing her beloved Pradeep instead? Aren't the facts of the Chadha shootout stranger than the fiction of Kya Hua Tera Vaada (Sony)?

Perhaps we have grossly misunderstood our TV soaps. They may wash dirty family linen in public but is there any serial that can come close to the muck flying around in the Aarushi murder case? Perhaps they also hold out the hope of a better life for those who face bleak prospects in reality. A serial like Phir Subah Hogi (Zee) sees Sugni defy her fate as a Bedia tribeswoman who is tradition-bound to pleasure Thakur men, and marry a wealthy, "decent" man. Better this than the honour killings we read about every day. Not so long ago, Kuldeep and Monica were reportedly murdered in Delhi for falling in love and marrying despite their caste differences.

And maybe, Balika Vadhu (Colors), which has just witnessed the wedding of Anandi to Shiv at a mass wedding ceremony in the village after three weeks of more twists and turns than on a mountain road, is a more inspiring story of remarriage for women who are abandoned by men. Recently read about Ramonjit Kaur (name changed) from Hoshiarpur who was allegedly deserted by her NRI Canada-based husband.

Yes, real life seems far more brutish than reel lives on TV. In television soaps, there is no sad ending, only fast forwards which carry the story to another level. And so Kya Hua Tera Vaada neatly sidesteps the minefield of Mona refusing remarriage to the eligible Vineet and returning to former husband Pradeep who left her for Anushka because she realises she still loves him. No, no that would have been unacceptable. To escape this potentially regressive fate, first Pradeep has to die saving his "wife" Mona from Anushka's bullets and then the serial crashes through the time barrier so that Mona remains a "wife". We land in the future, 10 years later, where Mona's three children have grown up — the eldest is a TV news journalist — and will soon encounter Anushka's daughter, which can mean only one thing: trouble.

The one area where perhaps serials seem impossibly fabricated is funnily enough, in clothes. Have you noticed what TV characters wear? Enough jewellery for Arvind Kejriwal to raise income tax questions — earrings dangling like chandeliers are just the least. In Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai (Star Plus), one character was wearing a turquoise and gold sari, a blue blouse rimmed with gold, a necklace of gold nutri-nuggets, earrings like gold coins — and this was how she was dressed at home. We all know how well-dressed they are when they go to bed and rise from it. The men, meanwhile, can be seen wearing three-piece suits that belong to the TV ads for that Complete Man of Raymond Suitings (Qubool Hai, Zee). And saris that either glitter more than diamonds or, are conveniently transparent so that all the characters can look into each others hearts and read the good or evil that resides therein. Sometimes, the saris are so gaudily printed they resemble the carpet at Indira Gandhi International Airport (Diya Aur Baati Hum, Star Plus).

As for the homes, most families live like they are filmstars. Have you seen the house where our heroine in Juda Na Honge Hum lives (Sony)? There's a winding staircase made of crystal, a sitting room more spacious than a seven-star hotel, and her bedroom must be bigger than anything the White House offers the president of the United States. Unreal. Or aspirational?

Meanwhile, here's something calculated to bring us all down to earth very heavily and rather rapidly. Cricket. On Tuesday, watched Mohinder Amarnath claiming that dropping M.S. Dhoni as captain had been discussed in the selectors' meeting. Next, he will say they discussed dropping Sachin Tendulkar.

shailaja.bajpai@expressindia.com

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