Anil Thakraney: Saas-Bahu soaps will never die

15 Jul,2013

By Anil Thakraney

 

Last week, we discussed why there’s sameness in the desi soaps, why the channels and producers aren’t able to brush off household fights. I also mentioned that things may finally be looking up, what with bada Bollywood stars and directors wanting to take part in television fictional shows, to produce offbeat content. But can their stuff match up to the best of American television, will they be able to raise the bar? No way, and I will explain why.

 

In the last one year, I have watched some truly stunning TV serials from the US. Spartacus, Homeland, House of Cards, Scandal, Prison Break, just to name a few. The budgets are lavish and therefore the quality of production is extremely high. The soaps out there don’t just match the best of Hollywood, they often surpass it. In terms of stories, direction, editing, stunts, special effects, the works. This is what makes the serials magnetic… as a viewer you don’t feel shortchanged, you know you are being rewarded for the time you spend on the serials. This is where Indian producers will take a bad hit, because they simply won’t have access to that sort of funding. So even if the story is interesting, the production quality will make you cringe. Watch Ekta Kapoor’s Jodha Akbar, for example. It’s got tacky written all over it. The sets and the costumes look comical, the acting is third rate and the serious dialogues make you laugh out loud. Am afraid the same fate awaits Anil Kapoor’s copy of 24.

 

Monies aside, there’s another grave problem. Almost all the American serials take on the White House, and not in a flattering way. The US Prez gets routinely depicted as a conniving, cheating, diabolical, unfaithful man, and the junta loves the no-holds-barred approach. Try doing this in India, you will get into serious trouble with our insecure politicians. Also, out there, they honestly deal with the issue of terrorism; they don’t shy away from singling out the community whose young men usually take to militancy. This will be impossible in our ‘vote bank’ politics ruled nation. And once you water the content down, you have already killed the excitement. Add to that: No foul language and absolutely no steamy sex, you are taking about utterly boring fare.

 

And so that’s why I am not very bullish on the Indian GECs. They will experiment, get poor returns, and return to family dramas with a vengeance. Yes, we are stuck with the saas and the bahu, whether we like it or not.

 

PS: How do you promote a cafe that was once a urinal? Well, you have fun with it. And sit back and watch as your act goes viral, resulting in oodles of free publicity. Smart thinking.

[vimeo width=”400″ height=”220″]http://vimeo.com/68843232[/vimeo]

 

Anil Thakraney is a senior journalist and commentator. He is also Editor-at-Large, MxMIndia. The views expressed here are his own. He can be reached via Twitter at @anilthakraney

 

 

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