SHAH RUKH FAUJI KHAN
After Kaun Banega Crorepati and Paanchvi Pass, Shah Rukh Khan will return to television with the show that gave birth to Shah Rukh Khan. The Bollywood Badshah is remaking Fauji, the Doordarshan show that had him playing armyman Abhimanyu Rai more than two decades ago. Also set for a star-studded return is Mile sur mera tumhara, the iconic DD song on national integration. t2 lists some other successful DD shows that have potential for a second innings...
Indias first soap opera beamed into households on July 7, 1984, to change Indian television forever. The trials and tribulations of a lower middle class family living in Delhi struck a chord with the audience. From the feminist Badki to the good-for-nothing Lallu, from the immature Nanhe to the alcoholic Beseswar Ram, every character, well researched and identifiable, became a part of every TV-watching family. We became huge stars, even bigger than film stars. We even have fan groups on Facebook and Orkut, says Abhinav Chaturvedi, who became popular as Nanhe.
Adding to the shows appeal was the presence of actor Ashok Kumar as the sutradhar at the end of each episode. The way he ended the show with a limerick or a poem and the manner in which he said Hum Log is etched in my mind, says homemaker Mitali Ghosh.
But would the largely linear narrative and lack of ample twists and turns work in the Ekta Kapoor world of TV today? The story of a middle-class family always works on Indian television. But the screenplay would definitely have to pack in more pace, says Rajan Shahi, the man behind current TV toppers Bidaai and Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai. Hum Logs subservient women characters would also stand out like a sore thumb in todays age of the Komolikas and Ramola Sikands. The women were treated like doormats, not allowed the freedom to strike out on their own. For Hum Log to be as popular in todays times, the women would have to be far more assertive, says actress Urvashi Dholakia.
But the sutradhar (maybe Amitabh Bachchan?) should remain. That is Hum Logs USP, says Shahi.
Building on Hum Logs popularity was Buniyaad, a post-Partition drama that started airing in 1986. Within a few weeks, the life and times of Master Haveli Ram and Lajoji and the Veerawali-Vrushbhaan love affair became dining table conversation. Since many in the audience had gone through Partition themselves, they could feel for the characters and their predicament, says schoolteacher Paromita Deb Gupta, who didnt miss a single one of the 104 episodes. Today, however, the hopes, loves and lives of the refugee family may not find many takers in the audience. I was glued to Buniyaad in the 80s, but couldnt sit through a single episode when it was rerun on Sahara One a few years ago, confesses banker Arjun Mishra. So what needs to change for Buniyaad to be a TRP topper in todays times? The same protagonists will make the show very dull. A leap of a few decades will add a lot more drama. The post-Partition conflict can now change to a conflict between two generations, says Shahi.
And no, Alok Nath is not allowed to wear a Tara-like wig and play his own grandson!
Who can forget the carrot-chomping detective and his hare-brained assistant? Pankaj Kapur as Karamchand and Sushmita Mukherjee as Kitty brought the house down in this Pankuj Parashar whodunit. The cases were well researched, the suspense edgy, the humour unmissable. So popular was Karamchand that even Bollywood borrowed heavily from the character, most recently in Abbas-Mustans Race. Twenty two years after its success, Kapur stepped into the shoes of the no-nonsense sleuth in a Sony series, but Karamchand part 2 was not carrot enough for the audience to bite. A younger actor as Karamchand might work better with the audience today, says actor Ram Kapoor. Vinay Pathak? With Mallika Sherawat as Kitty?
Few can forget the rip-roaring original — and far better — version of Whats Your Raashee? As an NRI groom facing the predicament of finding a bride within two weeks, Mohan Gokhale was top-notch in this Ketan Mehta serial. I was only nine then, but I remember looking forward to Mr Yogi every week. Just the idea of what kind of an eccentric bride would be up next was a great reason to tune in, laughs 29-year-old Prerna Jalan. And with Whats Your Raashee? whetting appetites, there is no reason why the audience will not lap up a Mr Yogi season 2. Our suggestion? Limit it to the original 13 episodes to prevent it from becoming a never-ending nightmare like Raashee! And how about Kal Penn as the new Mr Yogi?
YEH JO HAI ZINDAGI
The baap of all comedy shows, this sitcom had a huge fan following. Night after night, Indian viewers, from six to 60, tuned in religiously to roll in laughter at the antics of Ranjit, Renu and the hugely popular Raja. The shows trump card? Satish Shah played a different character in each episode, adding to the fun. It was a huge challenge playing close to 100 different characters, but given a chance I would do it all over again, says Shah. Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi should return exactly how it left us — as good, clean comedy that doesnt force us to tickle ourselves to laugh like the comedies on air today. And yes, Satish Shah should play another 100 different characters. The catchy title track sung by Kishore Kumar should be retained. And no, please dont remix that! pleads actor Eijaz Khan.
WAGLE KI DUNIYA
This was the story of every Indian middle-class family. A strict but gullible father with a soft core, Mr Wagle made weekday nights so much fun. The humour on that show remains unparalleled. Even today, people address me as Mr Wagle sometimes, chuckles Anjan Srivastava, the man who brought the lovable character to life. A subtle moral at the end of each episode was a highlight. So, wanted: a new season of Wagle Ki Duniya, retaining the essence and humour of the original. To keep the original flavour and nostalgia intact, the same actors should be retained. Mr Wagle can be a grandad now, but should be as fun as ever, says Prerna. How about Paresh Rawal as the new Wagle? He will get a break from Baburao!
The social crusader found a voice in Rajani. From exposing a corrupt office clerk to hauling up a vegetable vendor for cheating on weight, the feisty Rajani, played by Priya Tendulkar, had her loyal viewers week after week. In many ways, Rajani represented the new emancipated woman, something that will resonate much more with the audience of today, says Shahi. A Rajani remake should be about contemporary society, but the makers would do well to add some sophistication. Rajani went a little over the top in its bhashan giri. That may not be as much a hit with the audience today as it was 20 years ago, says Shahi. Will Mamata Banerjee (in a subdued avatar) agree to do the role?
VIKRAM AUR BETAAL
Change Betaals wig. Nothing else.
The list could go on: Trishna, Kakkaji Kahin, Kachchi Dhoop, Chunauti…But is there some- thing we dont want? Remember Krishi Darshan? That hour-long evening show during childhood that talked about crops and fertilisers, manure and harvest and put us all to sleep at 6.30pm? But we cant even not ask for a remake. Krishi Darshan still beams on DD, as boring and tepid as it was 25 years ago.
MUNGERILAL KE HASEEN SAPNE
No look-back at DD comedy shows is complete without mentioning Mungerilal Ke Haseen Sapne. The idea of a man daydreaming in episode after episode may have sounded ridiculous on paper, but Raghuvir Yadav as the lovable Mungerilal was a riot on screen. A loser in life, insulted by his wife at home and abused by his boss at work, Mungerilal wreaked revenge on all in his daydreams. I loved the way he would wink repeatedly and start daydreaming. It was hilarious, says software engineer Manas Dasgupta. Mungerilal part 2 should however return with a lot more variety in the plot and preferably Vijay Raaz (P.K. Dubey of Monsoon Wedding) in the title role. Fifty-odd episodes just showing a man dreaming and reaching the same predictable end, although funny, will cause audience fatigue after a while, says television director Rajneesh Gupta.