Saturday, April 11, 2009

Characters with real flesh and bones

One of the limitations of the characters in TV shows is that they are not believable. They are not real. There are either blacks who are scheming all the time or they are whites sacrificing and caring 24*7.

But there is one series that has really done justice to its characters. If one has to think of Balika Vadhu, one cannot exclude the character of Dadi Sa. You love her for everything she does or says and she has a reason to be like that. She is not there to scheme and take revenge. One must give credit to the writer of the series, Purnendu Shekhar, who has tried to change the portrayal of bahus and saasu maans of TV. Balika vadhu brought in a change. Had Anandi been fighting against Savita of Kyunki sass… bhi , the series would have been a tearjerker… (and we would have been watching those jerky reactions of the characters several times in each scene.) When you have no story, you go over the top.

What an amazing actor Surekha Sikri is!! I remember she was in a good TV series, Sehar, on star plus in 2000. But that was before “K” series entered the TV. In “K” kind of series good actors were not in demand. I mean the negative characters were so over the top, that subtlety of any kind had no scope. No disrespect to those who played the roles or wrote them, but those were the days for Komolika, Savita and Ramola Sikand.

Coming back to the character of Dadi Sa!!

I love watching Surekha Sikri. Her body language, posture, diction, expressions, her understanding of her character and her ability to portray it is unmatched on today’s TV. She stays with us. And unlike the negative characters on TV, you don’t hate her.

I was watching carefully the response of Dadi Sa to Saguna’s widowhood. And it was unbelievably true. She is compassionate, caring, strong and authoritative. When Saguna inflicts punishment on herself, there is no character hiding behind those K curtains, with vampish or villianious smile on his/ her face. A real story needs real characters. (I want to mention few characters of Jane kya baat hui who simply don’t fit into the story and do more harm to the story just by being there. But about such characters, will write later.)

Let’s compare her with Amma of Na Aana is Des Lado. Characterisation of Amma reminds one of the Shabana Azmi’s portrayal of God Mother. I feel God Mother had more depth and more colors. Remember the picturization of the song, “ Raja ki Kahani Purani ho gayi..” She drinks and enjoys and sings and dance. It’s more human. Though Amma has also been done responsibly by Meghna Malik, yet it will take some more time and some good writing to make her really real. The problem there is the men have no say in any affair of the family. Balikavadhu’s men are also ruled by Dadi Sa, but in their own world when they are with their families, they have a point of view. Even Gehna’s husband voices his opinion about Dadi Sa’s atrocity on the newly widowed Sugna.

Though I was expecting Dadi sa to change gradually and was not happy about Maasi (Farida Jalal ) coming in the story, but after watching few episodes, I felt her character is equally justified. She brings a fresh air of change in the old mansion. The scene where they make mirchi ka achar touches one’s heart. It’s simple, real and warm.

(There is one more scene, where Sugna's dahej is kept in a room and Anandi and Jagisha enter the room to discover that there is a motor cycle also. Dadi sa finds out that they have opened the room. The scene was so simple and so touching. I loved it.)

There is another old character, Nani played by Pratima Kazmi in Uttaran. Actor has been doing her job well. But …

Since I am writing the dialogues… I feel responsible for her characterization.
I find no justification for her negativity..
Why does she hate Ichchha so much?
Does she really love Divya and her daughter, Tapasya?
Is she from a very poor family and has gone through lot of humiliation in her early days?
She exists in the story just to create difficult circumstances for Ichchha and Damini.

I think we have not given her a soul at all.
No matter how well Pratima Kazmi does her job, the character has no depth and dimension.

To me Nani neither loves her son, nor Divya. She is one of those characters who have no experience of real love in life. They consider relationship as a social responsibility and they are not honest in any relationship. If given a chance she will spoil Tapsya, the way she spoilt Pushkar. Because Nani kind of characters cannot see anything beyond them.

We see in our lives also so many such relations, where is there is no emotional bonding.

This criticism is with a purpose.

We as writers need to give space to all the characters in the story. We cannot be partial to few characters. Each one has to have some contribution in the development of plot and subplots. Otherwise no matter what the writers write and actors do, they will not be able to win the hearts of the audience. The best examples of such writing can bee seen in many of the plays of Vijay Tendulkar. His characters are not contrived and they are not ruled by the writer. He never takes side or is judgmental about the characters.

Why am I writing it? Just want to initiate a debate about writing on and for TV.

After all millions watch what we write, direct and act.

I hope you would love to debate about it.



1 comment:

  1. Well written Anil. Honest observations, that will indeed lead to a debate. But then, that's the primary prerogative of a thinking mind.

    The GEC space is filled with two dimensional characters with no depth and soul. Dadisa does come across as a breath of fresh air. Alas! To be living in a world where she is an exception and not a rule. How much more vivid and vibrant story telling would become if the characters were made real and believable. I agree with you that, very often, in real life too, we see relationships where there is no emotional bonding and depth. But those relationships do not render themself to a story worth the viewer's time.

    I love where you are taking this blog. It's an interesting, fresh voice. And an honest one.