Friday, 11 March 2016

episode 313 sleight of hand




when you love something dearly and it starts to change, feels like something you don't know, it's an uncanny, unsettling feeling. you hope things will settle down, you tell yourself all will be well... but sometimes all isn't. it's a difficult feeling and that sense of unease never goes away.

every time i come to the episode that introduced subhadra mallick (or malik), better known as dadi, i balk, i feel the knot in my stomach.



khushi that morning, looking so pretty and innocent in red (so the garish orange saree look is now gone, why did it ever come) hadn't a clue what lay ahead. because khushi knows nothing about trp and its demands in a general entertainment channel that makes money out of advertising and every serial must get trp numbers (even if manipulated as they often are) to be advertisers' interest worthy.

this episode we met the lady who would be called the "hand" often. and in a way it was about the hand really... the missing one.

a new writer had been beckoned to fix the falling trp trouble. in reality, i think the trend was moving toward lower trps everywhere, given the glut of serials and channels; but three years ago, i guess no one was ready to consider that. the lead writer of a show, i realised at this point, has a massive impact on everything, even if he is not into the finer details of screenplay and dialogue. i know ved raj had to change his story a lot once he met with gul and ipk got going. several people had inputs and he had to keep that in mind... but somehow even with changes and things, ipk stayed on a course quite its own right through. even if kidnap made no sense, even if forced marriage led to a period of angst, most apparent in khushi's ott.

311 on for a while, the credit for lead writer went to jainesh. for reasons i have no way of knowing, but happens at times, in fact often, jainesh just was so not an ipk writer. he seemed to bring in an entirely alien element to the screen, the very feel of ipk shifted.

it was hard to handle.

had dadi been forced into the equation, but handled by ved raj, i wonder if the effect would have been as unsettling.

the ripped pearl dori comes to mind. such a sudden yank here, and so much scattered.

i'd heard the actor who portrayed dadi was a talented one. however, i never, not even once, sensed that. not only was writing a concern, directing seemed to lose panache too.



we started with mami ji in chorus mode warning us of impending doom. she is isscared of this lady and fears she may land up soon. an exaggerated scene, but with mami we know that is just fine.

i knew dadi was being introduced, i hoped she would have the nice shaded characterisation of ipk. even when she came and held up her hand the first time i he;d on to the hope and thought, soon there will be something interesting in this lady... a serial where even happy ji and shukla ji are shaded, how could an important character not be.

khushi looked lovely in red. i found her nanhi kali dialogue a bit too sweet. perhaps it was really referring to her and that poigneant, red rose look was called up to heighten the pathos as we watch thsi kali like girl getting crushed by the "hand." too pedestrian serialish really.


i preferred her fabulous shriek upon seeing the lizard, and perhaps, er, dadi. was that the screenplay writer having just a little ipk style fun, knowing there was mayhem about to unleash all around?

her dialogue later, "jisse hum itna pyaar karte hain usse hum theek se jaantey bhi nahin hain," the one i love so much, i don't even know him well, was of course a way to ease in the story of a grandmother who had never ever ever been mentioned before. but i did notice she openly said she loved asr so much and the first time after kidnap i think. something nice about that.

payal's dialogues underscored the fact that no one knew of dadi, she was like the audience at one level, saying, huh! what... what nahin what the.. dadi?!!

and really i have nothing against a sudden introduction of character if you handle it well. this was so bizarre.

anjali said she missed dadi every day. how forced and difficult to digest is that.

but what was unbearable, rather were unbearable... two things. the talk about servants. and the way women are treated in our serials.

even if this lady is old fashioned and believes in caste, etc., was this the right way to present it? no one admonished her as she mistook khushi for a maid and treated her as an untouchable.

just a reminder, a couple of weeks back a young man killed himself (one of many over the years), a phd scholar, who belonged to a lower caste and felt the burden of being "dalit." i don't believe in the caste system, because it is flawed entirely in thinking and is absolutely wrong. one of the biggest banes of our society is this obsession with jaat...

the beauty of the raizada household was that, not only did those working in the house get involved with puja, etc., even rahim chacha, who was of a different faith, was never asked not to be part of prayers and prayer related work... nani ji is a fabulous character, enacted powerfully and convincingly by jayashree t, in her way of dealing with her daughter in law, clearly not from a family of the same status as the raizadas, in her interactions with rahim chacha, in her views on women and their right to earn, be independent, even in her evolving attitude toward lavanya, this character was singular. and really our tv could do with more characters like her.

i wonder what would have happened if she were standing there when dadi said khushi was a "naukar" and told her to step aside, not touch her.

servants are employees not slaves. everyone is to be treated with respect. you can scold and yell if you have reason to (or if you are one of those yelling types but the servants know you are really not too bad a boss)... but you can't say you're untouchable or impure.

if you're showing a character doing so, there must also be censure of that in some way, and soon. mass media cannot ignore the influence it wields and say for trp we just pushed things to ridiculous extremes and never addressed the issues. instead of taking society back with regressive and oppressive portrayals of women, making them fit into a patriarchal society mould, that women for almost a century and more have been fighting, why not take a step forward and show how it's time to get over unjust ideas about people and class and separation of servants, etc.

mass media is an awfully powerful thing... society has always been influenced by it... in the old days, you had no tv and film, and print... but you had stories... told again and again, growing in influence, in number of tellers... stories of how life is lived, what is right, what is wring... those were the mass media of their time... and they often grew into magnificent tales... the epics. what is ramayan and mahabharat if not mass media of their day. and look at the influence they have on our lives even today... still being told and retold, their influence in so many places... in almost every story... even in ipk.

subhadra. krishna's sister, arjun's wife, abhimanyu's mother. why this name for the lady i wondered. there were always reminders of archetypes and epic characters in ipk. krishna, arjuna, karna would often come to mind. traces of sita's agni pariksha, trial by fire, in khushi's predicament. anjali became blind in love like gandhari i would think. she deliberately closed her eyes... refused to see the truth... was there more to dadi then? subhadra she is after all. but there really wasn't, was there.
 

and really, allow me to fall down laughing, she is nani ji's bestesht phrend phorebhaar? sorry, mami, hard to believe. as i said, writer is just trying to force fit things into ipk.


but coming back to women and how we are presented... how could three people, sorry four, including khushi, stand there and not say, she is asr's wife, not the maid. and secondly, even if she were... so what.

terribly weak writing. and they could get away with it, precisely because women have no respect in our world. which is why i keep thinking asr is important, his nani too, and yes... nk.

how did anyone pass that script? nk tried to say khushi was not the maid. mami prevaricated and made eyes, payal and khushi played "achhi bahu" and said nothing? and what stopped nk exactly?

when i saw it the first time i thought dadi had made a genuine mistake... and she was just obnoxiously traditional... also very flat in character sketch... caricature like.

later i realised, she knew who khushi was and was deliberately treating her like the maid. how vicious is that? and again story made no sense.


"shuddhi" became the watchword of the episode... purity. just as once long time ago, khushi went carrying a glass of milk, often a symbol of purity, and was rejected. but this time more insultingly, without any trace of love confounding the one rejecting her.

once again a door slid and was shut on her face...

but no, did not evoke anything other that a sick horror in me..

all this shuddhi talk so obviously targeting the remarriage... their will be talk of the marriage being impure... and then voila... let's go get remarriage and trp.



as dadi came down the stairs with protective arm around anjali, asr walked into the house, arm around his nani. a sense of confrontation in the framing. and in the long shot,  a feeling of battlefield... warriors arrayed. kurukshetra  there in shantivan somewhere.

perhaps who walked in with a hand held up was duryodhana, egged on my the slithering twitching shakuni, and draupadi had better watch out, her vastra, her honour, will be attacked, pillaged... and again her sakha will save her, keep her honour intact.



yeah, i sense a mahabharat motif here... but could have been told so much better. also, this sakha is a strong one, one who is ready to take the story of men and women to this century, now. he not only protects, he wants his sakhi to be as strong as she can be, have huq, demand... not cower and stand with lips trembling...

i saw the look in asr's eyes as he saw his grandmother, a complex emotion played on his face, his irises.



let's see what happens tomorrow. and i am still mad on behalf of op, hp (of the many avatars), jp, rahim chacha, and the women who have no say because they must be achhi.





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