By Simran Pavecha (Guest Contributor)
The old and the new
If there’s one TV show that will always remain super, super close to my heart, it is Bade Achhe Lagte Hain – Ram and Sakshi’s BALH. It was fresh, mature and a great concept – a typical Sony ecosystem show.
It created quite the stir back then – for a TV jodi that had fiery chemistry and supplemented each other’s characters. The title track of the show created new lyrics of Amit Kumar’s old classic, staying true to the nature and beauty of the show. It rekindled the audience’s love for the old one, I daresay. Ram and Sakshi were excellent in showcasing some of their best career work. How could someone forget that show?
So, naturally, when BALH 2 came, everyone took it with a pinch of salt, to put it mildly. Nakuul and Disha have proved their mettle together as a duo before – really rocking Pyaar Ka Dard Hai. I can only imagine how it must have been for the both of them to decide on doing this show. But, what I liked is that Ekta chose a pair that complemented each other really well. Like Ram and Sakshi did. Because however good the script of BALH 1 was, a significant part of the success was due to Ram and Sakshi’s understanding and complimenting temperaments as actors.
And that’s where I think Ekta got her first score for the show – by casting two actors as leads whose acting chops complement each other. That was reason enough for me to give the show another chance.
In a new avatar
The show has been on for three months now, and, safe to say, I like it. It’s predictable but well-paced. I don’t hold much against the makers for the predictability element because, in all honesty, Indian TV is regressive, slow and still living in the stone age. More on the regressive bit later.
But they’ve retained the old track, so yay.
And to move away from the nihilism of Indian television, despite Naagin 5, 6, 7, and 10, the show has some things to its credit.
The show’s characters are, well, modern. The mother-in-law isn’t a new-age version of Komolika. She’s selfish, self-centred, manipulative, but not ruthless, evil and downright terrible. And Shubhavi Choksey’s Nandini is almost likeable, for someone with a case of overdone empathy like me. It moves away from the evil stepmother stereotype, giving more story and insight into why Nandini is the way she is, without justifying it at all. Shubhavi carries Nandini so well.
The show also ‘tries’ to tackle some notions of masculinity with Ram saying dialogues like “men can cry”. Priya is often shown questioning the narrative of why women and their families are questioned often and made to toe the line. But it feels like an immediate letdown when she keeps justifying and proving their honesty, despite her ‘independent’ and headstrong front. She often has dialogues with her mother as to why the world limits and reduces the entire family to that one incident and judges them. But, she keeps justifying and explaining how it’s not their fault, and how they’re good people, and how others should be reassured ‘despite’ their past. The show lacks coherence in thought and messaging in many such situations.
She is constantly burdened with the guilt of not having a father, a tag that’s associated with the whole family as if it were their fault he left.
The show is modern, but not progressive
The excuse of ‘regressive appetite of audience’ is also withering away given the applause Star Plus’ Anupamaa has been garnering attention for being ‘progressive’ without glorifying it. The audience does have an appetite, and even if it didn’t, it becomes the responsibility of the makers to create it.
Ekta Kapoor is trying to tackle urban loneliness through the show in a 2021 way, but I’m not sure how much she is succeeding. The show eventually gives into romance, the female protagonist’s sad past and banter as its main theme, losing out on a brilliant opportunity to showcase urban loneliness with actors with such good potential and good scripting in its hands. I still watch the show. It’s a nice reminder of BALH 1. It’s a good star cast and its portrayal of love is endearing.
But above all, it is because it reminds me of another brilliant show and a female character that left an indelible mark on me
There, I said it. A word, a thought, an observation – I don’t know what- but, yes, her.
When I first started watching Bade Achchhe Lagte Hain 2, which wasn’t very long ago, given the fast pace of the show, I started feeling something. An inkling, an itching, if you will, a question, even – who does Priya, the female lead, remind me of? Why does this character’s voice feel so similar? Where have I seen it before? Took me a couple of weeks but I realised where I had heard it before – in Zindagi Gulzar Hai.
Priya and Kashaf: United in resilience
Bade Achchhe Lagte Hain’s Priya is heartbroken, resilient, and independent – in all sense of terms. She hates men (and their saviour complex) due to her father leaving her mother and remarrying someone younger. Although starved for love for never having a father, she calls him ‘Sir’ – out of respect or out of establishing a non-relational bond, you could never know.
Priya talks to herself a lot- much like all other Indian television women. But, there’s something distinct here: she talks the way Kashaf would write in her diary- the tone, the pain, her addressing Zaroon (here, Ram). We’ve all watched Kashaf’s famous internal monologue.
“Mein miss karoongi? Miss toh shayad ek chota lafz hai inn ehsaasaat k liye jo mai tumhare liye rakhne lagi hoon aur ab mai apne aap se darnay lagi hoon.
Tum mujhse puchte ho kay mujhe tumhari kya baat achi lagti hai? Mein tumse ye kaisay kahoon ke mujhe tumhari kaunsi baat achi nahi lagti?
Apne ird gird tumhara ghoomna, mere wajood se na hatnay waali tumhari gehri bolti nazrein, tumhari har waqt ki tawajja, tumhari jaan chidakne wala har andaaz. Har baar jab tum mere maa baap k liye ehtaraam mein khade hote ho toh mein tumhare saamne jhukne lagti hoon. Aur kya kuch nahi jo mujhe tumhare saamne moom nahi karta.
Aik chotay ghar kay iss pankhe waalay kamre mein tumhari ye gehri neend. Mineral water bottle ko dhoondne ke bajaye nalke ka paani pi lena. Hand wash chodd kay aik sastay saabun se haath dhona. Apni plate ko meri maa kay haath kay pakay khaanay se baar baar bharna. Per mein ye sab tumhe kabhi nahi bataayungi, tumhare har waaday per hassoongi, tumhari har baat ka mazak uraayun gi. Tum mujhe sangemarmar samjhte ho, tou samajhte raho, mein tumhare saamne reth ki deewar nahi ban sakti, mujhe toot jaane se khauf aata hai.”
This is exactly what I’m talking about. You see Kashaf’s shadow often hovering over Priya.
For me, it’s a strong enough reason to watch because characters with that kind of depth are hard to come by on Indian TV.
Past, Present and Ram
Ram? Not so much Zaroon. Nakuul Mehta’s Ram is different from Ram Kapoor’s Ram. He speaks too much, eats too much, loves too much – all that’s the same. But Ram Kapoor’s Ram had been bogged down by his past, it had turned him averse to a lot of emotions for people outside of his inner circle of family and friends. But Nakuul’s Ram seems to have taken his lost love and father in his stride. Ram’s easy as a character, full of heart and out there for you to see. Nakuul does great justice to that.