Friday, March 1, 2013

Enter the Hindi serial



It was about six years ago when I first saw my first Hindi serial.  It started off as an uneventful weekend with me sitting on the couch, bored and a bit tired, looking for something interesting to watch on TV.  And that's when we got our first preview of Zee TV.   Hey, I've watched Tamil serials before, so how different could it be?! Afterall, it's still an Indian serial!, I thought.  Little did I know!

Now, for the most part, Tamil serials show gritty realism -- if the actor had to play a poor person, they would be put in an actual hut and made to act in that hut with dirty clothes and deliver lines perfectly in the harsh conditions until they get it right.  But oh, how different Zee TV was!  It had subtitles for the Hindi-illiterate like myself and grand sets fit for royalty.  The families in these serials were so ridiculously large that they could occupy and entire town by themselves!  Yet, somehow, everyone seems to have endless amount of space in what seems to be apartment-sized bedrooms.  Almost all the families in these serials were as rich as Mukesh Ambani, and are dressed as well as him (if not better) even when they were at home.  After all, only the most expensive, latest designer clothing will suffice for this average "middle class" family. Why, the women actors are so well dressed that they even go to bed and wake up with their full makeup on.  In fact, they are even better dressed for household chores than most people are for going to parties.  Amazingly, while they do these menial household chores, none of their designer clothes get dirty and no sweat can be found on their perfectly flawless creamy-white faces.  Heck, even their makeup never fades or gets smudged when they wash clothes, cook or do the dishes!

And speaking of makeup.... have you ever noticed the exaggerated makeup used for the female villains?!?! In addition to the infamous "villain" look consisting of cheesy glares or squints, there are the exaggerated eyebrows, thick mascara and eyeliner, and sometimes extra large bindhis (my personal favorite) as wide as a Frisbee...... and all of it as "subtle" clues to let you know that the person you're looking at might be just a little bit shady.  Check it out:
 
 

Who needs to act when you have such obvious visual references?!?!  It's so obvious that even I notice them... and I'm a guy!  And speaking of guys.... the men in these serials... well, ALL of them are totally sleazy douchebags that have an affair sometime or the other.

Aaah, but wait... it gets even better! Now, let's say you're willing to have enough suspension of disbelief to overlook the above-mentioned details for the sake of television. There's still the fact that no one ever dies in a Hindi serial... ever!  If they do "die", they are magically reincarnated with a new face, height, and build in a later episode.

Finally, there are the dazzling camera effects.... the illuminating of faces when they enter the room or realize a startling truth.  Then, there's the camera effect of swooping down from above to highlight an important character... and another that zooms in... and another that moves sideways... and repeat the whole thing atleast three times.  I think the video below sums it up best:


Now, I could go on and on, but then this would be a 100-page post! :-)  The important thing to remember when watching Hindi serials is that they aren't meant to be realistic -- they are there offer the viewer entertainment in the form of Escapism, a chance to take a break from the rigors of everyday life.  Stop worrying about the lack of believability -- just sit back, relax and enjoy the unintentional comedy of it all! :-P

31 comments:

  1. LOL! Till date I have seen only one Hindi serial, it's Virrudh or whatever the spelling was. I find them boring to the core but one thing I admire is their marketing. Everyone I know watch them except for me. You know I won the Sony serial contest and before writing the post, for my research I tried to watch it on youtube, guess what, the maximum time I could watch it was 5 minutes. But yes, the posts written on such shows are very entertaining. :)

    And whatever people like us say, these serials are extremely popular and we can't beat that.

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    1. haha... well said, glad you liked the post Saru. Yeah, even I couldn't watch for more than a few minutes. Yet somehow, these shows are still popular, like you said. But what really surprised me when I first saw a Hindi serial is how well dressed everyone was... even the servants! :-P

      BTW, congrats on your award... and I must say you're quite sweet & humble for such an accomplished celebrity! :-)

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    2. LOL on the celebrity thing but one thing or may be the only thing I wanna borrow from hindi soaps is the way to look decked up all the times. I won't even mind looking like the servants too, at least my hair will be in place. :P

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    3. LOL.. good point. Even the washcloths that the servants use for their daily chores are made of finer material than my work clothes! :-P

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    4. ah well.... but at least my hair isn't out of place! :-P

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  2. what i remember about hindi serials is..they have repeatation of everything three times..even a slap..:P

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    1. LOL... nice one, well said Ruchi. Welcome to my blog, hope to see you more often.

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  3. They have a habit of dramatizing the hell out of everything.

    In one recent serial, I saw a scene where some children ask the heroine to play cricket with them, and she refuses... The dramatic music and camera whooshes build up, and everybody else in the room has this look of paralyzing terror on their faces... and then the heroine continues on to say "...because we have to buy you a new ball first." And then smiles and laughter all around and Krishna plays his flute. Really?!?? How was that necessary?

    Actually, the guys in that particular serial are usually either completely henpecked (if they're villains), gullible wimps who in spite of such shortcomings are still somehow filthy rich, or the hero character who is some sort of paragon of virtue upon whom tragic circumstances fall, forcing him to subvert his values -- i.e. he's the Pandavas.

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    1. @Parashar Your comment is more entertaining than these so called soaps. :)

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    2. LMAO... Parashar, you described it so vividly! This is probably an entire episode's worth of material. After all, the camera has to whoosh and zoom and flash on everybody three times when the heroine refuses to play.... and then repeat it again when she delivers her punchline about buying the new ball first! :-P

      Saru is right, your comment is much more entertaining than any Hindi soap! :-)

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    3. Do you remember one we both saw some years back where a lady in her infinite wisdom hides 5 lakhs in a bedspread, and it disappears? The entire episode is just people walking in one after another only to have the tale retold for them, and then be the next person accused of stealing it. About halfway through the episode, you could actually see the actors get bored looks on their faces during the camera whooshes! And then suddenly, the scene cuts away unresolved and the heroine is confronted by someone who claims "I know you got an abortion." 2 straight minutes of dramatic music later, the credits roll. And then there's a preview of the next episode where you just see random people screaming "Bas!!"

      What's sad is that the same people who will laugh at a show like that one and realize the ridiculousness of it will view the ones like the one I mentioned in the first post as realistic. "Oh, but the [pati parameshwar guy] didn't recover from his amnesia overnight, so it's totally realistic!" "The [shakuni allegory character] didn't completely wipe out the hero's wealth in a single blow, which is more believable!" "The [sati savitri heroine] becomes assertive more gradually, so that's like real life!" How about not having these types of characters to begin with? How about people actually living in ordinary-looking flats rather than gathering in a palace courtyard? How about seeing people actually work?

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    4. LMAO... Yeah I definitely remember that one, just can't remember the serial name. It was definitely laughable, as most of the other ones are. Speaking of patti parameshwar characters, there was a show called Kasamh Se where a woman still calls a domineering man "Mr.Walia" even after being married to him.... and as for the bored looks, this actress looked bored the entire time she was acting in the serial!

      And you're right, the same people who find one show/episode laughable will find another one very "realistic". The more people start watching shows like these, the more they'll accept as realistic. It all gets back to the whole suspension of belief thing... or a suspension of the brain (as umashankar cleverly commented!) :-P

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  4. hahaha its so well written and though I hardly watch them yet I am so very aware of the hilarious dramatization and exaggeration of the TV serials :-) ... enjoyed the write up and the comments ...

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    1. Thanks Moon, glad you liked it! Hindi soaps are so unintentionally funny that they HAVE to be poked fun at! :-)

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  5. To sit through it once is bad enough but like Saru says, everything thrice and with rising crescendos! Such sock- in-the-face subtlety. And they do dress up to the nines to sweep the floor. As for the archaic values they project, that's a travesty as so many people subconsciously imbibe and project those values and make everyone close to them miserable.

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    1. You're totally right, KayEm. You can't watch them for too long, and most importantly.... you should NEVER take them seriously. But the funny part of it all is that the soaps end up making fun of themselves unintentionally and provide comical escapism in the form of whooshes, camera zooms and glowing faces! :-P

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  6. Dark Night, it is more a Suspension of brain than disbelief. Indeed, as you have said, 100 pages and Odyssey would still not be complete. It is a gross abuse of a medium and a populace and I recommend nothing less than life term for the perpetrators. No, I mean the audience!

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    1. Umashankar, thanks again for your insightful comments. You hit the nail on the head when you called it a "suspension of brain" rather than disbelief. As for the populace, I believe they're willing to "suspend" their brains to give themselves a mental break/relief from the rigors of everyday life. The serials give them the escape into a fantasy world where everyone is dressed to the nines and live in grand palaces fit for kings. But you're right -- these serials are gross abuse of television because of the way they portray their fantasy world as though it's reality.

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  7. Great read :)) Loved it. Agree with you here, absolutely!.
    Watched only a few episodes of "Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi" and soon got fed up. Gave up watching since then.
    Visiting your blog after a long time. Reading your posts have always been a pleasure.

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    1. Thanks Rupresha, glad you liked it. Yeah, you can only watch these for so long. I'm surprised you made it all the way to that many episodes! :-P

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  8. Those were the days when ekta kapoor dominated the TV industry, things have changed now u have Bollywood directors like Sanjay leela bhansali who created movies like hum dil de chuke sanam entered TV industry making soap operas like Saraswati Chandra which will change your outlook to the Hindi soaps. The melodrama is still all over it, but it's just boring without it.

    Now Bollywood is scared enough that bigtime producers are jumping ship to TV.

    - Nehal

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    1. Nehal, thanks for the comment... and welcome to my blog. I haven't seen Saraswati Chandra, but I sure hope it changes my outlook. And speaking of melodramatic, I do remember Hum Dil Chupke Sanam -- Aishwarya was such a spoiled bitch in that movie! :-P

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  9. Hahahaha!!! It makes me want to see a serial--to ROFL again...so true, the music and the pan shots, the freeze, the repeats, the same old same old...and yet there was a time, I am ashamed to admit I was addicted...I dont know what it gave me, but I couldnt bear missing my fav "nonsense saas bahu" serials...

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    1. LOL. Glad you liked the post. The dramatic music and visual effects gives the viewer a fantasy world, which becomes eye-candy to the viewer. Like you, many who get drawn into it get a temporary escape from the rigors of daily life, which probably recharges them so they can be ready for the next day.

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  10. hahahhaahhahahahahahha

    and on Parashar's comment: hahahahahahhahahahahah

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    1. LMAO... nice, glad you enjoyed it Vishnu!

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  11. ha ha ha good one sriram... It is actually true that hindi serials do not portray reality and each of them drifts from their plot to raise their TRP's too.... Well written ... hilarious too....

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    1. Hey Cynthia, good to see you back. Thanks for your comments, glad you enjoyed it!

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  12. Interesting finds!
    But there is another thing in these Hindi serials - they are mostly family based with in-laws fictions, love affairs and sometimes more twists to the story unexpectedly

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    1. Yeah, but those families are just so laughably unbelievable! *LOL*

      Thanks for your comments.

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