Dheeraj Sarna

Sonali Jaffar

Damini Kanwal Shetty

TV Review
Kya Hua Tera Vaada:(Episode No. 1- 15)

Concept – Ekta Kapoor
Story – Sonali Jaffer
Screenplay- Damini Shetty
Dialogues – Dheeraj Sarna
Aired on Sony Tv Monday-Thursday 10.00pm

As a TV script writer for the past 19 years one found it very difficult to watch TV shows across myriad channels after a hard days work. Two episodes a day with numerous changes, channel meetings, briefings left one exhausted enough to deflate any enthusiasm of watching soaps once the laptop was switched off. Genuine intentions to watch the latest shows on TV were met with a tepid response from the mind, which wanted a diversion at the end of the day. A book, watching a play, or watching the latest Hollywood/Bollywood films at the nearest multiplex or on DVD was a far better option than to switch on the Idiot Box at the end of a hard days lathering of soaps.

So it was with a trepid heart that I approached my assignment to review one of the latest TV show’s on air. I chose Kya Hua Tera Vaada randomly. And boy wasn’t I in for a surprise! I watched the first 10 episodes in one go…

What works for Kya Hua Tera Vaada is that it brings back all the basic ingredients of good old soap opera narrative to todays TV viewing generation. Kya Hua Tera Vaada (KHTV) has thorough and in- depth characterisation. It has a smooth flowing and seamless screenplay. No overt plot twists and turns and no cliff-hanger ends to episodes. The dialogues are pleasing to the ears. The dialogues were succinct and to the point. Most importantly the treatment of the script is of the old school. It has clean straightforward shots, no crazy camera angles, swish pans and Jimmy jibs on overdrive. It also reemphasises the quintessential truth that if the writing is good then one doesn’t need to have crazy camera angles to hold the viewer’s interest.

KHTV is the story of Mona and Pradeep Singh a couple belonging to a middle class family with three children aged 9, 6 & 5 years. It’s a story of the day-to-day struggle of a middle class family to survive in the maximum city of Mumbai. It’s a show that showcases the ordinary aspirations of a very average family. It focuses on adjustments and small sacrifices made in a middle class family. It shows sensitivity of characters towards each other. The children are normal middle class children without any overt sugary traits. They fight, they throw tantrums and are unjust in their demands, they don’t try and be adults. They are what they are supposed to be – kids!

KHTV’s story has extremely relatable day-to-day moments and incidents packed in its screenplay. Mona Singh, the housewife is shown somersaulting through the day in her various roles as a mother, wife and daughter in law, a friend and a concerned neighbour. Yet all through her various role-plays she is not shown as a sacrificing bechari aurat. She is an intelligent, shrewd, sensitive lady who tries to make the best of what she has and is happy in her middle class existence. For Mona, her family; her kids, her husband and her in laws who stay close by are her universe. She makes small highly relatable sacrifices to make everyone happy. This is a great achievement by the writers. To engage the viewer’s interest without major plot twists and turns and make mundane middle class existence a treat to watch is the victory of some smart intelligent writing. Take for example the moment in the story when Mona’s husband Pradeep gives her money to buy an expensive sari for an office party so that as a couple they can create a good impression on the boss which might enhance his chances of promotion. A reluctant Mona along with her daughter goes shopping for a sari and instead lands up buying a tennis racquet for her daughter who had wanted a new racquet for herself. Mona’s logic of feeling guilty on splurging 5000 rupees on a sari for herself when the child longingly looks at a racquet in a near by shop which she so desperately wanted is a completely identifiable trait of a woman caught between her role as a mother & that of a wife. The culmination of this sequence is excellent. Post the party Pradeep at home is berating Mona for not having bought the sari that he so wanted her to wear and Mona stands quietly listening to him vent out his frustration. Suddenly the elder daughter comes out hearing the fight and then hugs her father and thanks him for having bought her the racquet. The speechless look on Pradeep and then him thanking his wife for what she did is highly relatable and a warm moment.

The husband, Pradeep Singh is your average soft-spoken middle class career man. He is frustrated with the lack of avenues at promotion, not aggressive enough to push his way through the wheelers & dealers at work. He is shown struggling to make ends meet. Showing his frustrations on his wife and then repenting and apologising to her immediately for his insensitive reaction are all highly relatable middle class moments. Pradeep Singh reminds you of the Amol Palekar of the Hindi cinema of the mid 70’s. He is the quintessential middle class under confident average Mumbaikar. Another gem of a moment in the show is the incident where Mona applies for a receptionist’s position when Pradeep is sacked from his job. They meet coincidentally at the office, an expected cliché. But what transpires after they both realise they have applied for a job in the same company is what is the DNA of the show. Mona explains in a vulnerable state her complex of being an educated unemployed who is not contributing to the monthly kitty unlike other modern wives. Pradeep’s reaction to this explanation of Mona is what makes KHTV a special show. He tells her that apart from a housewife being a 24-hour job, her biggest achievement is grooming and bringing up three children. He says bringing up kids is a far bigger responsibility than any project report or promotion or position he can achieve. He tells her that she is doing just fine being a housewife and not to feel inferior and get into a complex at not being an earning member of the house. They will manage with his meagre salary he proclaims and they walk off happily.

The first 8 episodes had such gems peppered in the script and I was happy that for a change there was a different take by the writers on day-to-day middle class living. Though the archetypes were there their interpretations were different. Most importantly each and every episode ended with a lot of positivity. There was no overt melodrama played out even though there was ample scope for the same. So far so good I thought. Then the sceptic in me thought, ‘is this too good to last?’ The writers are bound to slip up somewhere. And the moment came around the 8-9 episodes. The freeze point of the episode was of a sultry sexy diva in a smart business skirt, dimly lit entry frames and wind blowing and the proverbial banging into the protagonist in a blue-lit corridor. I thought Ok so they have slipped. Now the other woman the enchantress has arrived and it’s going to be another triangle. Surely she is a blast from the past?

It turned out to be true. The enchantress was none other than Anushka Sarkar the character who is an ex flame of Pradeep’s from college. She was a go-getter, a no nonsense woman. Anushka wanted to be an achiever and hence she had rejected Pradeep’s offer for marriage for pursuing higher studies and a career, though she was madly in love with him. All this is quickly explained in smartly written sepia tone scenes. I thought this is it; KHTV will now disappoint and fall into a pattern of the other woman wanting it all back. The set up for rekindling of an old romance was perfect. On the one hand we have a husband who wants more time with his wife and gets frustrated when she is caught up between her various roles as a homemaker and can’t find time for hubby. On the other we have an achiever who had turned from a romantic soft person to a frigid career woman pursuing the single-minded goal of reaching the top of the corporate ladder till she suddenly discovers her vulnerable side when she meets her ex flame. She sees his family and realises what she has missed out. Opportunity for her to set off in pursuit of what she is lacking.

But KHTV surprised me again. Anushka’s vulnerability and deep desires get exposed but somewhere she controls herself from being the seductress. She is shown as a character in a dilemma of what is morally right and wrong. Pradeep on the other hand is shown as a man extremely uncomfortable with having his ex flame as his boss. His desire to share the truth with Mona about his ex flame being his boss is well brought out. At the same time, his restrain while dealing with Anushka and his posture of being the committed and happily married man is a welcome change. There are enough moments in the screenplay for the archetype scenes to be played out, but the writers smartly refrain from going down the barrel. This was till the end of episode no 13.

The writing started to slip somewhere post episode no 13. The smartly etched out characters, at times played out moments completely uncharacteristic of what was shown till then. For e.g. Anushka landing up for dinner at Pradeep’s home and catching Pradeep and Mona in a romantic embrace is a done to death with moment in soaps. Anushka suddenly behaving like a vamp wanting to spoil her ex beau’s happily married life by calling over the entire staff for dinner when only she was invited was uncalled for. Also the moment when Pradeep unreasonably scolds Mona for not having anticipated more people and cooking less was uncharacteristic of Pradeep. Another surprising moment was when the elder daughter suddenly feeling envious of her younger one lies to her that she is an adopted kid and the aunty (Anushka) who has come home for dinner is her actual mother and will take her away was a big let down. The mother in law of Mona watching Anushka and Pradeep spend a few moments near her car from the kitchen window made me cringe. All these moments were played out between episode 14 & 15. What happened to the writing suddenly? Did the writers suddenly loose track and fall into the temptation of the tried and tested cliché? Or was it that the archetype moment was too inviting not to let go of squeezing out all the dramatic moments that it was affording them to try out?

I hope that these are rare slip ups. I also hope that they are one off moments and the show maintains what it had promised in the beginning episodes. The key to the success and longevity of a show is the consistency of its story telling. Up till now the writers have managed to keep up to a consistent story telling pattern barring the last few episodes. The show now has reached at a stage where cliché’s and traditional melodramatic story telling is the want of the hour. It has also tried to open a sub plot of Mona’s sister in law which till now was integrated into the main story but suddenly came as a tangent in episode no. 15. If the story manage to break away from these cliché’s and maintain their consistency in the plot points, characters and the screenplay then KHTV will be one of the landmarks of this years TV offerings. 

   Vinod Ranganath

Vinod Ranganath. .

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