Of soaps & sports on television

Spell Of Fresh Air

Of soaps & sports on television


The death of the saas bahu soaps has brought in many a change for the avid tele-watcher. Firstly it brought about a long overdue change in the type of shows that were being aired on television channels. The illogical tearjerkers gave way to the more socially relevant topics like child marriage (Balika Vadhu), selling of the girl child (Agle Janam Mohe Bitiya Hi Kejo) and autism (Aap Ki Antara).

Then it brought to forefront a number actors, actresses and producers who were unknown during the saas bahu days. And lastly, it gave producers the liberty and courage to experiment with new topics.

How else can one explain the launch and subsequent success of sports-based shows like Jersey No 10 and Palampur Express.

Small screen boom

 One feels, that this is a largely unnoticed change that has happened in the last two years in the world of Indian television. Sports-based stories were earlier seen only in the big screen — be it Chak De, Awwal Number or, if you take the liberty to put it in that category, Lagaan.

It is only recently that the small screen has also discovered that sports stories can mean serious business.  SAB TV had tasted success with its cricket-based story of Jersey No 10 — the first sports-based television show to hit national headlines.  

Produced by Cinevistaas, it was about the rivalry of two stepbrothers — Nakul and Arjun — both of whom were all-rounders in criket.

The serial was about who amongst them gets to wear the much coveted Jersey No 10. It was one of the most popular serials last year and starred Nakul Vaid, Sukriti Khandpal,
Varun Vadola and Abhinav Shukla. The serial helped SAB, which was struggling with a retinue of flop serials, fight and return back to the main stream.

It also paved the way for producers to think about sports-based serials and start making them. The latest broadcaster to have this realization is Sony, whose Palampur Express is creating ripples if not waves in the world of TRPs.

It is the story of a young girl Pavni Dikshit whose only dream is to be the fastest runner ever and achieve an Olympic gold medal for the country. The serial is about how she moves towards achieving her dream despite all odds.

The protagonist of the show — Pavni (played by Pooja Kanwal) is a small town 18-year-old girl who lives with her father and grandmother.  She wants to become an athlete, but her father and grandmother rule against it.  

They want Pavni to grow up in the traditional Indian way and so while her friends are preparing hard for an inter-school athletics tournament, all Pavni can do is to accompany them and cheer them.

However, fate has something else in store for Pavni and she does manage to get into the school athletics team, and eventually reaches her destination. Her spirit and determination makes everyone call her Palampur Express.

Welcome change

Interestingly, even the actors are welcoming this change and are lining up to play key roles in sports-based shows. Guess they are also tired of playing the jewellery-laden bahus!

Take Pooja Kanwal for instance. She plays the role of Pavni in Palampur Express and is on Cloud Nine having bagged this role.

Pooja, who was earlier seen in a movie Uff Kya Jadoo Hai by Rajashree Productions, is excited at getting an opportunity to play this role.

“The beauty of this serial lies in the strength of the script. The success factors like glamour that one attributes to success of a typical serial is not important here. It is the storyline and the performances that drive the success of Palampur Express.”

“She is not the typical glam-doll you see on television. Which is why I had to put in a lot of hard work while preparing for this serial! In fact, I even had to change my style of speaking and even walking,” Pooja said, when asked about her playing the role of Pavni.

Pooja agrees that one of the reasons behind the success of the show is the sports-based story.

Working wonders

“This theme has worked wonders in films like Lagaan, Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar and Chak De. Why should television be any different? I am sure this trend will catch up and we will see more such sports-based shows on television.”

The serial is being produced by Roshan Abbas’ Encompass Ltd and is being telecast on Sony between Monday to Thursday at 8.30 PM.

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