Soap Operas for Survival (and/or Mindless Distraction)

I don’t really write about Bollywood films or Indian tv serials on this blog. I grew up being exposed to lots of Bollywood films and found them formulaic aand melodramatic as hell (boy meets girl, parents disapprove, and in the end either the lovers are either tragically parted or the parents come around).

Nonetheless, there are some Bollywood films that I actually enjoyed: to name a few off the top of my head, Yaqeen (Trust), Talash (Search: The Answer Lies Within), Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge – also known as DDLJ – (The Braveheart Will Take the Bride). I mean the preppy melody of Meri Khabon Main Jo Ayay (He Who Comes in My Dreams) and the sappy, melodramatic Tujhe Dekha Tou Yeh Jana Sanam (Beloved, I Saw You & I Knew) made an impression on the hopeless romantic that was once me (Not anymore though!).

So yeah Bollywood, we’re good. You do your thing & I do mine.

But more to the purpose, dear readers, I’m writing this post for those of you who want a break from watching the news, or those of you who could use some “fluff” (a nicer term for mindless but addictive) distraction. In ordinary circumstances, I would never countenance writing this post, but given that nothing’s really “normal” these days…

So, If you’re familiar with Indian television serials already, then you probably know that StarPlus is a popular Indian television channel that produces serials, many of which have titles starting with the letter ‘K’. If you’re not familiar with this, well now you know.

Anyway, some of the most popular StarPlus serials (of the early 2000s, the channel’s heyday) are good distractions in the present times – cut off from reality (by which I mean schemes hatched by everyday people at supervillian level, plot-twists out of left field, character deaths and revivals, villains to saints, saints to villains, you know, the stuff of Latin American telenovelas), addictive (its mindless but sooooo addictive once you get into it) and occasionally you grow to actually care about the characters (I mean, these shows spanned years). And so dear reader, if you think you want to give it a try, here are some suggestions to keep you entertained in these difficult times.

maxresdefaultKasautii Zindagii Kay (The Trials of Life) (2001 – 2008)

With a whopping 1423 episodes, this is one of the longest running original StarPlus shows. The story has many plotlines, and a couple of time jumps, but at its heart it is the love story of the two protagonists Anurag and Prerna and the challenges they face from youth to old age. These challenges include jealous rivals in love,┬áscheming family members, and much, much more that I can’t mention because of potential spoilers. There were many times I was frustrated with the direction the show took and with the actions of the protagonists, but I grew so invested in the protagonists’ love story that I watched it to the end — and what an emotional (and predictably melodramatic) ending it was!

Warning: High drama (including storylines dealing with kidnapping, murder and much, much later in the show a storyline dealing with assault).

A trailer is unavailable but here’s the intro to each episode. This song brings back so many feelings!

This website has English Subtitles.

Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi (Because the Mother-in-Law was Once a Daughter-in-Law, too – Gosh, I wish there was a better way to translate this) (2000 – 2008)


Watch the show for their romance

This is a family saga, presenting the lives of 4 generations of the fictional Virani family. The one constant protagonist is Tulsi Virani, the young daughter-in-law of the family, who goes on to become a mother-in-law herself. The show is long, and as with Kasautii, its plot has many twists and turns. Lots of scheming, lots of drama, lots of emotions. For me, back in the day, this show was only worth watching for the romance between Karan and Nandini (such a sweet portrayal of young love at first, and then such a moving story of enduring love). Trigger Warning: there is a storyline with sexual assault. Surprisingly, I thought this storyline was actually done well in terms of the outcomes for the perpetrator and the victim.

Primarily though – watch it for the Karan-Nandini love story. You will cry truly cathartic tears.

Kis Desh Mein Hai Meraa Dil (Where is My Heart?)

250px-Kis_Desh_Mein_Hain_Mera_DilThe premise of this show is the undying love of the protagonists Heer & Prem, whose love must triumph conspiring rivals, misunderstandings, tragedies great and small, and challenging circumstances. (Okay, so romance features heavily in the suggestions I’m making. That’s because despite all the melodrama, extra mushy-ness and general “bleh” factors, some of these StarPlus shows did epic love so well for the desperate romantic that I was as a teen.)

Happy Viewing!

A Clockwork Orange – My Views on the Book and the Film

I just wrote a post about why I don’t read dystopian fiction. Another perfect example of what I don’t read is “A Clockwork Orange” by Anthony Burgess. The film adaptation is just as unpalatable to me.

The book is hailed as a masterpiece by some. It is not. It is the story of the sick, twisted escapades of a sadistic creep with severe antisocial personality disorder. The final chapter has this creep, who belongs in Dartmoor or Broadmoor, undergo a “reformation” of sorts upon seeing a former acquaintance settled and married. Since when do sadistic, antisocial criminals have epiphanies and decide to leave their depraved ways behind them? Never. Only in poorly contrived fiction.

The book and film portray hyper toxic masculinity, and I find it hard to understand who their intended audience is – Criminals? Closeted psychopaths? Incels of the Arthur Fleck variety? Who else would want to waste time and brain cells on portrayals of hyper toxic masculinity?

The film especially is EXTREMELY disturbing viewing with it’s light-hearted approach to the rape of minors and it’s sexualised, fetishised approach to the rape of an adult female. It is equally disgusting in it’s casual revelling in other acts of violence such as assault and battery and murder.

Don’t watch or read if:

You identify as female

You identify as male but are against hyper toxic masculinity

Have basic human values such as “rape is wrong, crime is bad”

Respect other humans and life

Want to watch or read something worth your time and energy

Why I Don’t Read Dystopian/Apocalyptic Fiction

It’s an active choice. I don’t read fiction that is set in a dystopia or an apocalyptic world.

I realise that many people do read such fiction and that they may even enjoy it. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I respect your reading preferences.

For me, reading is about enjoyment as much as it is about exploring new ideas or having set ideas questioned and examined. But I draw the line at ruined, unnaturally mechanised, grey worlds of abject misery and despair.

I don’t want to read about how the world could be worse.

I don’t want to read about how humans could be worse.

I don’t want to read about even more widespread social inequalities than in our world.

I don’t want to read about the loss of nature and the loss of humanity.

I want to read books that inspire hope. And if not hope, then books that move me, set in either our own beautiful but flawed, problematic world, something like our world, something completely fantastical, or something better.

Why dwell on destruction when we can be inspired to make our world better with books like the Discworld series?