Yawn gobbles saas-bahus, K survives

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  • Published 9.12.03

Mumbai, Dec. 9: The saas-bahus are facing the severest crisis of their life: their creator is bored with them.

In what could be the beginning of the end of a small screen era, Ekta Kapoor launched a new “youthful” serial today, repenting the long association with the saas-bahu brigade that has made her feel dull and depressed.

“I won’t say I am tired of the serials, but I have been too caught up of late with their family problems,” said Kapoor.

The new weekly serial, to be telecast every Sunday from December 21, has the trademark K in its name — it’s called Kkoi Dil Mein Hai — but otherwise is meant to be “very different”.

“It will be a fun show with youth, romance and bubble,” she said of the serial that will be about the friendship of two girls.

But what will really make it different is its stress on the “real”, implying that the predatory, enclosed world of the K-serials, where her bejewelled women only sharpened their claws to tear out each other’s entrails will not stand the reality test.

“The new serial will be more ‘realistic’, in touch with ‘realistic’ situations, a very ‘real’ story of two girls in college together, where they meet on a ‘real’ one-to-one basis and things like different social status don’t matter,” she said. One will be rich, the other poor.

“It was my personal decision to change over,” said the 20-something producer of Balaji Telefilms who has over the last three years unleashed several generations of saas bahus on the small screen, many of whom keep leapfrogging into the future by 20 years or so to keep the story going.

“I as a person wanted something younger, fresher. I am not that old myself. The concept of marriage has become very old and I take full responsibility for that.”

But on the face of it her decision to take a new direction may have been prompted not by introspection, but by external factors.

If she is tired with her married women, so is the country. Her serials Kuynki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi and Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki are the two chartbusters according to TRP rates, notching up around 10 and 9 respectively in the week between November 23 to 29, but a fatigue has set in. As the TRPs have slowly, but steadily, declined, the plots have absconded.

Then there’s Jassi. The Sony serial Jassi Jaisi Koin Nahin, a perfect foil to the K-serials in its storyline and characterisation, has created a flurry, climbing up the TRP ladder fast. It’s averaging around 5 in the TAM rates, is being hailed as the much needed breath of fresh air and Jassi has become a household name across the country.

It is a coincidence, then, Ekta’s new serial has elements that are in common with Jassi’s. Here, as opposed to the opulent Gujarati or Punjabi homes of the usual Balaji serials, a middle class home is the place (like Jassi) from where one of the heroines springs; she wants to work and very seriously (like Jassi); she is dignified and self-respecting (like Jassi); and there’s a lot of fun in the serial (as in Jassi).

The new Kapoor says she wants to talk about urban individuals in the city of Mumbai, the 24-30 age group (“they are still young, the post-teen, pre-motherhood women”). But that describes Jassi.

Ekta will also use humour as a coping strategy in her serials, as in Jassi. “I knew the Jassi question would come up,” says Kapoor, but adds that she made the pilot of Kkoi Dil Mein Hai three months ago, which makes her serial older than Jassi. “I would not like to follow anyone,” she adds.

Kkoi Dil Mein Hai leaves room for the older formula, too, as the plot has the freedom to develop any which way it can and there is the family apparatus ready to provide the necessary sentiments and values.

Ekta also promises that Parvati, Tulsi and Kusum will remain the same. “There is a ready audience for them,” she says.