Glycerine equals addiction

Telly Talk

Glycerine equals addiction

Popular: Surekha Sikri in ‘Balika Vadhu’

I pass the living room to get a mug of coffee as an antidote to the headache that’s sure to ensue, Ehey hey hey ehey the chorus begins and a little girl dressed as a grown-up Rajasthani woman twirls around in slow-motion. I look at my mum, entranced by Balika Vadhu. A few questions, not for the first time, baffle me. 

How did my mum, who hadn’t followed a soap since Bold and the Beautiful, get hooked? How did Colors transcend its late-mover disadvantage to become numero uno and remain firmly in place? Why am I on the couch watching this banal show instead of getting my coffee? And finally, since there’s a formula for everything now-a-days, including one that will tell you when you’re most likely to die, what is the ‘Colors Hit Formula’? 

I have never been good at maths but here’s what my left-brain, with lots of assistance from the right side, came up with — glycerine equals addiction showbiz fiends have known forever that glycerine hooks the Indian viewer. That’s why Balika Vadhu has an elongated crying scene in every episode. No matter the proportion of the tragedy, whether it’s bidding farewell to the woman whose job it was to produce a male heir and leave or Jagya (the husband of the child bride) failing his exams, you’ll find the cast jointly hamming their way through the glycerine-induced high in their living room, while the viewers snivel in theirs.   

Then there’s that favourite Indian fable about the sacrificial lamb. Uttaran is about a maid’s daughter and her spoilt-brat close buddy in whose house her mother toils away. The kid does everything she can to keep her best friend happy. As a young woman, she gives up the man she loves because her friend has to have him.

Later, mental faculties numbed by all that sacrifice, she marries a drug addict, which brings me to the next point — Stupidity. Laagi Tujhse Lagan is about a poor, young woman who is ‘ugly’, which makes her future look very dim, as the promo says, ‘Kaun isse apnayega?’ 

But there’s no cause for worry. A few episodes later, it is revealed that the girl is actually very pretty. Her overprotective mother just ‘uglifies’ her to keep her safe from the neighbourhood ruffians. Apart from the very expected darkening of the ‘fair’ face to turn her into an ugly duckling, the mother does other things like paste grizzly artificial eyebrows and blackens her teeth. Smart, huh?

On the other hand, a decent story about inter-caste romance in small town India, Yeh Pyaar Na Hoga Kam, took a strangely familiar turn and began to look like the Jimmy Shergill, Hrishita Bhatt starrer 2003 sleeper-hit flick Haasil. For a whole month, the show blatantly lifted the plot and its elements, the college politics, the gun-toting student goon, the star-crossed lovers, and stuck it into the format.  

This list might soon seem outdated, because the channel does the math real fast — kids, comedy, reality, dance and other elements just flit in and out of the formula. 

Remember how they garnered a lot of attention at first with their cause-centric shows? Balika Vadhu was supposed to be a crusade against child marriage, but the kid settled pretty quickly into the marriage because the audience didn’t want to be lectured. Same with Bhagyavidhatha, that took off as story about groom abduction in Bihar.

Now, the abducted groom and wife are crazy in love, with a little bit of the sexual tension number thrown in. In one shot, she steps out of the bathroom, hair dripping as her husband looks at her longingly and the background music explodes. Go ahead Bihar, abduct more grooms.

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