IF YOU HINDI SPEAKING PEOPLE DONT READ IT I WILL PUNCH YOU IN THE GUTS. This girl is just fucking awesome. Seriously. Go ahead and I shall be proved. Just read, okay?
Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi
Kahani Ghar-Ghar Ki
What am I doing? I’m telling you what I spent my childhood watching, albeit less religiously than my mother, who made me eat in front of the TV simply because “Arre, Mihir is coming back to life today.”
Hindi serials. The highlight of any Indian aunty’s day full of judgmentalness (“Gulbahar ki saari dekhi thi, kitty pe? So over she was looking.”), stress (“Karele pachaas ke kilo ho gaye hain, yaar.”)and hard work (“Haan haan. Din bhar tumhara main ghar saaf karoon, tumhara khana pakaoon,and this is how treat me. Worse than a slave, even. Hey bhagwaan, uthha lo mujhe.”).
Those precious two hours of back-to-back serials at eight, punctuated by Abba’s groans of “Begum, hamien bhi de dijiye remote, Australia-South Africa ka match aana hai.” And our shouts informing Ammi (who listens carefully from the kitchen, bhindi khatam ho gaya hai serving bowlmien) of what chaal the kulta-kulachchhi vamp has chalo-d.
Those special favorites that the entire family HAS to follow, willingly or otherwise. We even start calling the characters by their names in the shows, that’s how hooked we get (“Ammi, Zoya is on TV!” “Where? Haye, how nice her shoes are looking.”).
Having favorites from Hindi soap operas is pretty pointless, though. They’re pretty much all the same (my apologies to anyone who thinks I’m generalizing here. Please do send in some favorites of your own if you can). How? I’ll tell you how.
- The Protagonist
This one girl. Super pretty. Or that’s what she’s supposed to be. Ultra obedient. Perfect in every sense imaginable. Always dresses in the same kind of clothes, so that even if the original actress leaves, you have no trouble identifying the character.
Up until about 2007, there was no variation in the nature of our leading lady. We had that one chick (often a gaon ki gori) who was amazingly bholi-bhaali, maximum M.A. pass (“Zyada padhi-likhi hogi toh nakhre karegi, bhai.”), way too obedient and super susheel. She knew every leyp,every kaadhha there was and, on a few occasions, treated her perfect would-be husband, winning his heart. She NEVER saw it coming when her jealous mother-in-law would get someone to fuck up her halwa, which she’d so lovingly made for the whole khaandan of twenty thousand.
Now, however, we have two kinds of bahus. We have the conventional one, and the rebellious one. Works to support herself. Really independent. Takes care of her parents, who do love her but want to get rid of her as soon as they can. Doesn’t give a shit about what the aunties have to say. The guys totally fall for her, considering how beautifully mordren she is. Aunties hate her for the very same reason. Uncles couldn’t give a more non-existent fuck.
- The Maa
The kind of mother whose tears would make a whiny newborn jealous. She cooks the most amazing food. She’ll love you SO MUCH, you’ll die of how much she loves you. The ultimate sin, in her eyes, is disrespect of elders. However bitchy, wrong and cruel they might be. She is mortally afraid of doing anything to piss off her daughter’s in-laws. The boldest thing she’ll do in about five hundred episodes is dance to a 60s ka Dilip sahib wala gaana with her super strict husband on her daughter’s sangeet.
- The Babuji
Babuji is generally (ooh, look, I generalized) super strict. Girls’ school, girls’ college, girls’/no hostel. He’s the kind of person you look at once, look away, smile, and then wet your pants. He’ll never tell anyone he loves them. After a point of time, you start doubting whether he loves anyone at all. But then comes that one episode where he places a hand on his daughter’s head and says “Jao beti.”And you hear your mother sobbing in a corner.
The other variety of Babas is the Alok Nath Babuji. He will smile at you SO fucking hard you’ll drop whatever your doing and fall at his feet with a tearful “Paye lagoo babuj!”. He loves his daughters. A lot. The scariest thing he’ll ever do is slap a bigda hua launda with an accusing “NALAYAK!” Out of the two types, he’s more likely to have a second wife.
- The Sauteli Maa – Sauteli Behen Combo
Sauteli Maas are of two types –
The kaminis, who are basically the epitome of evil and think their sauteli betis are the root of all evil because they’re fairer than their own daughters. She’ll do everything she can to make your life hell. Note how she sucks up to her husband.
The nice ones, who’re actually bearable. They’ll try their best to raise their sauteli betis as their own and the worst thing you can say to them is “Arre jao, she toh isn’t even your own daughter.Sauteli beti hai, sauteli! *insert echoes and depressing music* These are really rare.
The step-sisters, however, are quite loving. They WILL have a dark complexion unlike their didi’s,who are super white, Nirma ki safedi ka kamaal. This results in all the rishtas being snapped up by the Fair and Lovely big sisters (sometimes helpfully called Shweta). This is one of the reasons why the kamini aunty loathes her.
- The Husband
This guy is perfect. Supposed to be the most beautiful thing you’ll ever see. Nice rich boy from nice rich family. Helps run the family business. Which, by the way, his granddad had started. Daadi ka laadla. You’ve probably never seen a more perfect gentleman. His mother, however, makes sure that he does not turn into a joru ka ghulaam. Which he does, in the end. He’s such a little wuss that he’ll call his own wife “Suniye.” He’s generally not very bright, considering he never sees his mother’s expressions changing from “Haye, how much I love you!” to “Achchha hi hua jo thatkamini number one is going back to her mayka.”
- The Saas
WHERE DO I BEGIN? So I’m just going to end it with one word – evil. Wears really creepy clothes. Helpfully given scaryass make-up. She hates her bahu for having taken her son away from her. She’ll try every trick there is in the book to humiliate her. Wrecking the food bahu has cooked with so much love, humiliating her parents, ruining her sari.
There is, however, another case (you know me, I try my best not to generalize) where the saas is even better than the maa. This can either stem from a change of heart that occurred when the daughter-in-law took care of her saasuji when she was ill or saved her life when she was about to die in a car crash (She would’ve come back to life after thirty episodes anyway, what was the point?) or it could just be how pavitra she is and how she views her bahu as her own daughter (this hardly happens).
- The Nanad-Bhabhi Package
The sister-in-law, who seems super sweet at first, but after her brother gets married, turns from Ariel to the Fiji mermaid. Amazingly ultra jealous. LOVES Bhaiya to death. Hates his wife just as much. NEVER as susheel as her jaani dushman. Doesn’t get much camera time.
- That One Naukrani
The modern day equivalent of Manthara. Knows everything about everything. All the secrets. Not the prettiest thing you’ve seen. Pretty scary overall. Has that one signature evil expression.
The “Haww!” Bunch of Relatives
A bunch of junior artists doing a pretty bad job at “Haaww, haye, dekho toh zara!”-ing. However many times the family might get beizzat in front of them, they’ll still be at every function. EACH AND EVERY FUCKING FUNCTION.
With the characters done, we have a few other things to look at.
The Clothes – No matter how poor they get or how late at night it is, our ladies WILL be dressed in the gaudiest saris and the heaviest jewelry. Ghar mien ration nahi hain, lekin sari bandhej ki honi zaroori hai.
The Houses – Did I say houses? Sorry, I meant palaces.
The Music – No scene is complete without appropriate music. There’s a picnic going on? Fun music. There’s a wedding going on? Happy music. The vamp is doing something evil? Her own name sung evilly (“Komolikaaaaaaaaaaaa”, for example). Something sad happens? I’m-About-To-Cry music.
The Round-And-Round Shots – A woman in a white sari interrupts the son’s wedding saying,”Ruko! Ye shaadi nahi ho sakti! Main inki vidhwa hoon.” The whole family (community is the apt word, actually) is stunned. The camera moves in circles to capture the expressions of every member and then freeze them in black and white. Twice. Babuji’s expression is genuinely troubled. Maa looks scared for the girl. The bahu is like, ”OHMYGOSH WHAT.”, only in a respectable manner. The evil aunty has on her favorite “Aha. The plan is working.” Expression. The naukrani actually looks happy. Everyone else is just looking at each other like, “Time to hawww!”
As much as I would love to end with ‘kthnxbi’, I won’t.
Okay, maybe I will.