Much has been written about our saas-bahu serials. So I, too, have decided to make my own contribution. Following are some well-know cliches from a typical saas-bahu TV serial:
1) Kya yahi pyaar hain? Earlier, only all Hindi movies were love stories. Now even TV serials try and portray themselves as some great love stories as can also been by some of their posters (as i don't watch them, my only source could be their posters i get to see on railway stations) you get to see pasted all over railway stations. Even a serial like Sanjeevani, which started on a premise of under-study doctors' lives in a hospital and seemed to be different and an intelligent one, ended up being a typical love story with two love birds being torn apart by misunderstandings caused by a vamp.
2) Gory background score: As loud as they are when they talk, their background score is also quite loud. Worse, each character has a unique background score that's assigned to them. So when you see a particular character on screen, his or her pre-determined background score starts to play. Case in point: the vamp Kamolika in Kasauti Zindagi Ki and her 'scheming' or 'villiany' background score.
Further, whenever there is a confrontation between two or more characters or, say, a revelation of some sort (your dead wife of 5 years is actually not dead, but alive!) happening, the clank, clank, clink, bing, bang, slam, dung, whiiisssh and whoooossh background score that starts, is most irritating.
3) Meetings in the drawing room: This one is quite weird. Whenever there is a problem in the family, everyone, yes every family member, descends to the drawing room and starts discussing. Like they have nothing better to do. And thereafter ensues a big debate where everyone passes a remark with the family patriarch like the Dadaji, Babuji or saasji in the centre moderating and observing everyone!
4) Close-ups and camera angles: Whenever a family member gets embroiled in some sort of conflict or controversy, or when a tragedy falls on someone, the camera gets into swinging action. It zooms into the person's face five times; i) from above him/her to bottom, ii) from bottom rising to above the top of his/her head, iii) from right to left, iv) from left to right, and finally, v) zooming right into him/her from the front.
Also, the camera angles keep moving or drooling all directions, much like Santosh Sivans' does in his movies. Problem is that the camera-people of TV serials cannot even do 0.1% as good a job as the great South camera-person and director Sivan does.
5) Lightening: Also during a turmoil, you must hear the sounds of lightening. There's full scale lightening happening, be in rain or shine, summer or winter.
6) Woman or streeshakti: When time comes for one of the woman to set things right (read: to exterminate injustice), suddenly temple bells will start ringing, the woman will be seen seething in anger like an angry Goddess, sounds of lightening can be heard from, I presume, outside the house or wherever she may be at that time, the weather will become windy, her hair will start blowing, eyes will become red in anger and some enough-of-this-atyaachaar type Hindi song start to play.
7) Rs 50 crore Business deals: Yes, all families and everyone in our saas-bahu TV serials are filthy rich who are always into some family business. Neither anyone is poor nor does anyone works for a salary. Alas, nobody knows who is into what type of business. All that happens and keeps happening is that someone or the other from that family keeps signing "contracts" worth Rs 50 crore at least. Nothing less than Rs 50 crore; the amount rises if the TV serial is telecasted in prime time. After all, more people watch the serials in the late evening and night prime time, so more amount of money is demonstrated.
Another example of how everyone is so rich in these TV serials. Whoever heard of middle-class housing societies where many of us live, or modest homes i should say. But our TV serial families live in palaces that we can only aspire to have. Duplex bunglows with bedrooms we can't keep a count of. Clearly, the era of humble TV serials and TV families that we can relate to (Wagle ki Duniya, Sriman Srimati, Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi and even Nukkad) are gone. Welcome to an era where everything is larger than life.
8) Festivals: I had observed in one of those earlier TV serials that the central family celebrates all the festivals almost equally with pomp & vigour. How sweet! Be it Diwali, Holi, Dashhera or even Christmas. I do not have any problems with people celebrating festivals, even I do. But it looks a bit unnatural when the way these serials show their characters celebrating festivals, it looks a bit desperate to garner eye-balls across cultures.
9) Slow motions: These are the hallmarks of all these serials. There are no excuses to inrtoduce slow motions, be it confrontations, or some "big" character entering the room, or someone opening the door only to find someone unexpected, slow motions are mostly abused here. The most frequent use of slow-motions? After a confrontation is over, the confronter turns around and walks away, all in slow motion. I have not bothered to calculate, but rough estimates suggest that a 30-minute episode can be easily told in 10 minutes if all these slow-motions are removed!
10) Best Bahu, Best Bhabhi, Best Devar and all that crap: As if all of the above is not enough, now there are award functions specifically for these type of serials. Some of the awards given to the characters that act in these serials: Best Saas, Best Bhabhi, Best Devar, Best bahu.
Having said that, hard work is hard work and there is no substitute. Even the people associated with the above work hard day and night to put together something that they believe in. And I respect that. I only wish such a lot of money is diverted into producing series with unique themes, believable characters and scenarios. After all, the audience's time is also very important.
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