Shailesh Kapoor: Bade Achhe Lagte Thhe: A Goodbye

11 Jul,2014

By Shailesh Kapoor

 

Circa May 2011. In a stressful television primetime, where most hit shows were either about “smart” women trying to adjust in a challenging household, or about social issues dominant in small-town and rural India, came Ekta Kapoor’s Bade Achhe Lagte Hain (BALH). Last night, three years and more than 600 episodes later, the show bid goodbye to its audiences.

 

BALH’s premise, of late marriage between a couple as different as chalk and cheese, was only mildly unique. But as episodes unfolded, it was the treatment of the subject that captivated millions across India. The show provided a mix of ingredients that made for an irresistible offering: Imaginative lead casting, a well-etched out ensemble, assured performances, crackling chemistry between the leads, lavish yet tasteful production and a lightness of treatment that was striking in the middle of countless other shows that were beinghandled with a heavy hand.

 

The results were instant. The show jumped to being one of the top shows on television within weeks of its launch, with blockbuster performance in the metropolitan markets. Audiences who had actively sworn off primetime Hindi fiction went back to it, and Ram-Priya, or RaYa as they are called on social media, were the talk of the town.

 

In my book, BALH remains the most influential TV launch in the last decade, along with Balika Vadhu. (Co-incidentally, the title ‘Bade Achhe Lagte Hain’ is derived from a song from the film ‘Balika Badhu’!) Its impact on primetime television was evident in the way the proportion of ‘mind fresh’ (read light-hearted) content increased across channels. Happy moments and fun side-characters were incorporated even in serious subjects, to deliver to what was commonly referred to the industry in 2011-12 as ‘BALH audiences’.

 

The show also did well for the careers of many of its cast, especially Ram Kapoor. He started getting important roles in films, though his latest and most significant outing (Humshakals) was an embarrassment on all counts. Sakshi Tanwar (Priya) has been the most prominent brand endorser from the television industry over the last three years. Sumona, who played Ram’s sister, bagged the prestigious role of ‘Kapil ki biwi’ in Comedy Nights With Kapil.

 

Like many other successful shows, BALH overstayed its welcome. The first generation leap it took, in mid-2012, was the start of the descent, though the introduction of a new child character (Pihu) postponed the inevitable for a few weeks. But eventually, the show lost its audience, as it began to lose the very lightness of touch it initially won the audience’s hearts for. The farewell, hence, was only a foregone conclusion.The show ends to make way for Amitabh Bachchan’s Yudh.

 

Yet, in its golden period that lasted about a year, BALH gave us many memorable moments, including a delightful honeymoon schedule in Australia. It also gave us the first real kiss on primetime television in India, an event that took the social media by storm, even as the audiences struggled to come to terms with the shock of seeing a lip-lock in the primetime.

 

I can’t say I will miss Bade Achhe Lagte Hain, because that will need going back to 2012. But I hope we see more of its ilk – shows that can shape the future of primetime television in India for the better.

 

Bade Achhe Lagte Thhe!

 

TV Trails is a weekly column written by Shailesh Kapoor, founder and CEO of media insights firm Ormax Media. He spent nine years in the television industry before turning entrepreneur. The views expressed here are his own. He can be reached at his Twitter handle @shaileshkapoor

 

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