Iss Pyaar Ko Kya Naam Doon : The game changer for romance on Indian TV

By Sreejeeta Ghosh (Guest Contributor)

The Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility states that the more we consume a product, the less it satisfies us over time. 

And Iss Pyaar Ko Kya Naam Doon (IPKKND) is a great contradiction to that law. 

It started as a simple romance show but with time turned into a (nearly) cult romance classic. Romance is universal, but no one brought the magic of Mills and Boons to the table like IPKKND. The brand of romance on TV suddenly turned to broody, jaded heroes and sunny heroines who hide their tears behind smiles. 

Despite all this, none quite lives to the original. 

So here I am, nine years later, trying to decode the fame, buzz and cult status IPKKND achieved beyond its impeccably talented cast and chemistry of the two leads. 

The Anti Hero

Arnav Singh Raizada. 

Rich, arrogant, jaded. So unattainable that he becomes everyone’s fascination – our Heroine’s included. In the era of kitchen politics, embellished sarees, family drama and sacrificial queens swooped in an anti-hero who would receive everyone’s disapproval. He was everything not on the family TV. 

And that’s precisely why he left a mark.

From rejecting social norms and customs to being a declared atheist – he was more human as a character with his nightmares, trauma and its continued effect on his perception of the world. 

He starts as trouble but ends up becoming everyone’s dream man. While a great share of that credit lies on Barun Sobti – the incredibly talented actor who brought him to life – a significant part of this is his characterisation. There is an effort behind the creation of Arnav Singh Raizada. 

In an age of anti-heroes where unfortunately there is no difference between angst and outright abuse, Arnav stands out as the perfect blend of an anti-hero – mysterious with a touch of good heart. 

New Genre

In 2011 the Indian television landscape was dominated by mothers-in-law berating the new bahus, vamps with internal monologues and the traditional sanskaar, IPKKND as a jaded love story comes like a breath of fresh air.

There’s nothing new about opposites attracting and rich men falling for middle classed women. Pride and Prejudice lives on for more than a hundred years for its witty banter, intelligent heroines, thriving on what we call clichès today. 

But IPKKND is perhaps one of the finest Hindi television shows to have blended all aspects of a classic romance along with its own freshness. 

The first promos sold the difference between two people – Arnav being as far from your typical hero – and Khushi being the connection between what was seen and what is new. And for the longest time, the show actually stuck with what the promo showed – a rarity compared to today. 

It won’t be a stretch to claim that the new genre of romances seen today stems largely from the success IPKKND received. 

Writing

The spine of a good story is in its script. There is no doubt that the brilliant casting and characterization gave us characters that have lived for years, but this layering also comes from the excellent writing. 

It takes good writing to retell a known story – two people, who hate each other, have opposite economic status and are as different as chalk and cheese, with similar trauma (their parents’ deaths), attraction and intellect. So their relationship becomes an intriguing, engaging slow burn as the layers peel away and we can see Arnav and Khushi bond over time – what starts from disastrous first meetings and undeniable physical attraction ends up as a love saga. 

And it takes even better writing to create a villain who grows with the plot. One of the main backbones of the whole story is Shyam Manohar Jha and his connection to every character in the show. 

If anyone is a fan of romance and knows Geet Hui Sabse Parayi – another hit romance tv show – then they’d remember the entry of Maan Singh Khurana. He beats off all the goons, protecting the innocent Geet. And we all fell in love with him, the hero, in an instant.

That is the exact entry the villain of IPKKND receives. Played by the outstanding Abhaas Mehta, Shyam Manohar Jha successfully hoodwinks us and the protagonists by appearing as a hero, then a harmless man with perhaps dubious intentions to grow into a monster who successfully ruins everyone’s lives with his manipulations. 

And characters like these aren’t written overnight.

IPKKND, despite its flaws and obvious loopholes, stands out so well because its plot was compelling and convincing. And it had stakes that made us root for the characters. Especially in the first half of the show, we were seeing a full-fledged story – not just tracks to pull the show forward. 

Therefore it is also not surprising that even when the show lost its original foothold in terms of plot, it spurred perhaps one of the largest fandom authors of any television show in history. 

Source: theipkkndficverse.wordpress.com

The number of fanfictions written on IPKKND and the number of story writers – writers good enough to have their own novels – is inspiring and surprising. 

Production Value

In a time of loud makeup, bright lights and heavy soundtracks – we have characters with natural makeup, darkness and the most beautiful background scores. With expensive cameras and brilliant cinematography, IPKKND was perhaps the most beautiful thing to watch on television at that time. 

Set design, closeups and intelligent framing instead of plain aesthetics make this show as beautiful as its leads. Diwali, the Teri Meri dance performance and their elopement at the temple particularly stand out for their outstanding direction and cinematography. Those were scenes with little dialogues that spoke volumes through their shots.

Balance

This might be a strange reason to list why IPKKND worked, but in a way, it might be the one that makes the most sense to me. Arnav is just at the edge of what can be accepted in an anti-hero. He is cruel, in multiple ways, but there are boundaries that he never crosses. Which unfortunately became the starting line for characters after him. 

Khushi, despite her sheltered upbringing and high moral values, is drawn to the dark attraction she finds in Arnav.

For a show whose USP is in romance, it is surprising and refreshing to see that its legendary romantic score – Rabba Ve – does not actually play until the moment the characters truly feel something beyond the attraction at first sight. 

There are no forced indicators of the leads being fated for each other. From a slight coincidence to fair pacing in the show (it takes roughly 200 episodes for them to reach a moment where they accept they’re besotted with each other), this ultimate balance between plot and time given to the plot works its magic. 

It’s also the balance of rib-tickling comedy and heartbreaking tragedy (especially in the first half) that makes us, the audience, bond with IPKKND. We have genuinely laughed and cried at their well-written sequences. 

To be honest, I have probably only touched the surface of what makes this show a phenomenon even after ten years, and I haven’t even mentioned the brilliant actors (Barun’s and Sanaya’s acting chops and eyes deserve another article), the timely end of the show nor the subtle ways it broke clichés. 

But the one reason why I think this show is brilliant is that it was not made to be like another, it was only made to tell the simplest story really well. 

Photo Credit- Iss Pyar Ko Kya Naam Doon (2011)

Twitter -@SreejeetaGhosh

26 thoughts on “Iss Pyaar Ko Kya Naam Doon : The game changer for romance on Indian TV

  1. Very well-written piece on my all-time favourite show IPKKND ❤️ Completely agree with this line (second last paragraph) of the author Sreejita Ghosh: “… brilliant actors (Barun’s and Sanaya’s acting chops and eyes deserve another article).” In fact, I will look forward to more articles on this show or on some of its key episodes and also on these two brilliant actors Sanaya Irani (playing Khushi) and Barun Sobti (playing Arnav) who lived their roles and made the two characters Khushi Kumari Gupta and Arnav Singh Raizada so mesmerising, so iconic forever! I do give credit to the writers of the show too but even on the days when writing was bad or mundane, these two actors with their brilliant acting and chemistry could set the screen ablaze instantly and raise the somewhat banal surroundings to sublime heights! These days we see many new shows trying to replicate the Arnav Khushi scenes with similar sequences or dialogues but none those shows can create the same impact which in a way prove again and again the superiority of SaRun (Sanaya Irani & Barun Sobti), their acting, their chemistry, the way they lived their roles and made us weave all our fairy tales around them and yet kept the characters so relatable and appealing at the same time! It’s these two lead actors Sanaya and Barun who have brought to life the magic of Mills & Boon romance on screen! Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’ has been one of my all-time favourite novels since my high school days but very few actors, who play those roles, can live up to the magic of Darcy and Elizabeth (Pride and Prejudice) or the lead characters from M & B stories as they were conceived or written by the authors or fantasised by the readers! The writing or script can be very good but none of those actors could translate the angst, the pathos, the magic, the intensity, the fiery, dark, raging passion, the heart fluttering flirting from the script on to screen as impeccably as Sanaya as Khushi and Barun as Arnav have done in Iss Pyaar Ko Kya Naam Doon! This duo have perfectly carried even those episodes of the show on their shoulders where the script has at times failed or faltered! That’s why SaRun (Sanaya Irani and Barun Sobti) has been the muse for scores of ArShi (Arnav Khushi) fan fiction writers till date since a decade and they will surely continue to intrigue us and many more in the decades to come! [I am @Arshisarunfan aka Arshisarunmumbaifan on twitter.]

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I totally agree- The cast was magic and iI won’t mind publishing another article on their contribution to this fantastic genre of reluctant romance! Small confession- Arnav was more attractive than Darcy!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Oh yes, the charm Arnav brought on screen was unparalleled. Ah reluctant romance – that’s a beautiful way to put it! Thank you for publishing this article!
        (It’s Sreejeeta here)

        Haha, I think there are quite a few who would agree with your confession!

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Hi TulikaD I too completely agree with your “small confession” 😃 But again Jane Austen’s ‘Pride & Prejudice’ belongs to a different era & different place when the readers had totally different tastes & moral standards too! But we also have to admit that Mr. Darcy of Victorian Era’s England was the original character which caught readers’ fantasy and gave birth to thousands of Mills & Boon heroes in the modern times 😍 But among all those later age M & B heroes, it’s Khushi’s ASR (Arnav Singh Raizada) who takes the cake away 🏆😃 Arnav is indeed one of the best written male leads in itv shows! And Barun’s unique charm made this character eternally appealing & loveable to all of us ❤️ I don’t think any other actor other than Barun Sobti could have made us empathise with Arnav and love him to this extent! Khushi’s character too had a much wider range, more shades and more spunk than that of Elizabeth Bennet but again the comparison is not fair because of the same reasons (they belong to completely different times and places with different social mores & different target audiences). Khushi’s character too was well-written though towards the end of the show, the writing faltered! Khushi character, in my opinion, is not as much author-backed as Arnav’s character is, and Khushi’s character did not get as much progression as Arnav did in the show, but kudos to the extremely talented & versatile actress Sanaya Irani who played Khushi so impeccably displaying so many shades & range of emotions on screen (in spite of the fact that Khushi’s character was not always backed by author to the hilt as Arnav’s was) and make Khushi endearing to the viewers across the world wherever the show has been telecast! The ML Arnav has more fangirls though and fêted more but Sanaya as Khushi deserves no less celebration than Arnav because it’s Sanaya’s sheer talent & acting prowess (which is underrated till date) which made it possible for her to carry so many episodes on her shoulders when the writing failed or faltered a bit or when Khushi’s character was butchered to some extent and her characterisation suffered in the latter half of the show! I think Khushi was the first female lead character in mainstream ITV channel / GEC who was NOT the eternally suffering Bahu at the hands of her in-laws / society! She had her own shares of life problems though just like Arnav had! Both Barun and Sanaya are extremely talented actors and Arshi scenes are loved till date because of Sanaya Barun’s magical chemistry but I feel it’s unfair when the production house or a section of the media and fandom celebrate the male lead of this show more and don’t give equal credit to Sanaya aka Khushi, the character to which not only many of the online viewers but also most of the TRP viewers could relate (not only in India but also abroad). Not just the comic scenes (which are spoken of more) but also the sad scenes, emotional scenes (pathos) were nailed by Sanaya [my eyes still tear up and hearts still breaks when I see Khushi cry and our entire family (both old and young members) still break into fits of laughter for her comic timing] just like Barun too nailed the intense scenes, especially the expressions of hurt as well as anger in his eyes! With all its big or small drawbacks, IPKKND (2011-12) became a cult show for a reason where the story, writing, acting, chemistry everything culminated to give birth to this all-time favourite classic which not only caught the fantasies of the online audience but also resonated with the TRP viewers in India and in 60+ countries wherever it was aired again and again on television and here we are discussing this show and its actors and characters even after almost a decade since the show ended which is an ample proof of how deeply it affects us all to this day ❤️

        Liked by 1 person

      3. What an eloquent way to put out these extremely pertinent thought. Khushi was as much the life of the show as Arnav. In fact sometimes more because women being the majority viewers , we saw the show mostly putting ourselves in her shoes , even unconsciously.. also why Arnav is fangirled * more
        I didn’t follow it to the end though so intrigued to know how do you mean it was butchered?

        Liked by 2 people

      4. @TulikaD About how it was butchered towards the end – well, there are a few instances – I’ll mention one – during the first Arshi diwali, Khushi was in favour of lighting oil lamps instead of bursting crackers but in the second Diwali (after remarriage & after Aarav was adopted by them), Khushi was advocating bursting of crackers along with Aarav I guess! So things like that plus a few other instances … ! Also many fans may fangirl Arnav (just like a few fans like Khushi more) but I feel most of us fangirl both Arshi together & it’s for Arshi chemistry that we still love to watch IPKKND. I appreciate the time and effort effort spent to write this article & it’s well-written! We may be fans but most of us cannot write so well like Sreejeeta or other writers! But as a fan I will also wait for another write-up on this show which will also focus on Khushi too like Arnav! Hope Sreejeeta or others write another article so that you can post it here! ❤️

        Liked by 1 person

      5. A very biased article written to promote Barun Sobti . The whole article mentions four lines about the female lead who was half the reason for the success of the show . It is also proved by the positive comments of his fans here . Next time why dont you just promote him? Why hide and play these games . This is one of the reason fans like me stopped following him

        Like

    2. Hey sarunfan2013,

      So lovely to see you here! Thank you so much for loving the article 🙂 (Although I regret not being able to write much about Sanaya because she deserves a lot) It is true, these two characters held a lot of heavy weight on their backs on the most terrible tracks as well. Maybe that’s why Sanaya and Barun had really good arms and shoulders!

      Yes, IPKKND would’ve been not what it was if not for the leads. To quote my best friend, everything happened in the right time – from the perfect leads with the perfect script. A great script became iconic because it probably had the strongest actors on TV in it.

      Much love,
      S

      Also, @tulika
      Towards the later half maybe there was a change of writers or the direction IPKKND headed to because there were a few shoddily executed tracks where the characters increasingly behaved outside how they were established for a year and half. Also the production value went down by a significant margin and worst off, the writing lost its original flair (which I think TV needs a call out for its daily structure in general and its attempt to run forever because at one point you have run out of the main premise of the show)

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Hi Jalebi Weds Bluetooth 😊 Why to regret it when you can also write another beautiful article on this where you can focus on Khushi too just like Arnav? 😍 In fact, I’m looking forward to that article already 😃 Also I’m pinning my hopes on these two lines: “I haven’t even mentioned the brilliant actors (Barun’s and Sanaya’s acting chops and eyes deserve another article)” & waiting for (in fact dreaming of) one more article from you 😄 I know right different fans have different perspectives & likes / dislikes / bias, etc., and that’s fine but for the majority of the viewers / fans IPKKND means Arshi (played by SaRun) and we still survive on those Arshi love scenes uploaded by fans ❤️ The problem is that most of us (including me) don’t have the gift to write or analyse so well and because of that we wait for gifted writers like you to write articles / posts on IPKKND / Arshi which say things which we want to say too but cannot find the right words to say it! Hope Dramas And Dreams will be kind enough to publish one more article on this because fans not only relate to Khushi but they love and want to read about Khushi too just like Arnav ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on deathlybloomingblossoms and commented:
    Would love for everyone to read this lovely article penning down a few of the reasons about IPKKND managing to carve a cult status and a global following despite airing about ten years ago! The author is @jalebi-weds-blutooth on tumblrdotcom who is also the co-host of the fan podcast, Iss Podcast Ko Kya Naam Doon?

    Like

  3. A very well-written article about the show that is ruling over this planet even after a decade. There are many factors involved and as you mentioned the mainly was Arnav and Khushi and their unbeatable chemistry.
    A unique love story among sas bahu-oriented minds paved its own path to beat the hearts of the millions.

    Liked by 5 people

  4. Nice article.👏
    Before I was introduced to Fanfictions and forums created to discuss about shows, this is the only show I watched from the beginning to end and then continued watching many times till date.
    You are right. The shows success was based on the well written characters, actors, script and production values. Everything fell in place. A tad bit more credit goes to Sanaya and Barun.
    Cheers..

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hello Raji Ji,

      Thank you so much for popping in here! I absolutely agree with you. To be brutally honest, one doesn’t easily find actors like Barun and Sanaya. And that too in the same show – damn, it had to be a hit. I wish I could write more about the acting because everyone, leads included, were in this rare sync with each other and displayed the best given an opportunity. Maybe one day I’ll return with an article just talking about the very talented Barun Sobti and Sanaya Irani.

      Much love,
      S

      Liked by 2 people

  5. A biased article written by. Barun fan and published by some site who is paid to promote Barun . Obviously it is being clapped by his fans . How low can it get in journalism . The fact you won’t print my comment confirms who you working for . It is because of these tactics He lost his fandom but you guys still continue doing it . How crafty you guys are TS

    Like

    1. Thanks Rekha for letting me know your views. However if you read it again , you will see that your opinion is mirrored in the article as well- and same in discussions ( specially sarun’s comments. I think the fact that barun sobti gets more attention when writing is because we are all women who place ourselves in Khushi’s shoes and feel the attraction towards Arnav’s character. That does not mean Sanaya Irani’s role is ignored – in fact there is a higher compliment here – that so many of us could identify with her and wanted to be in her place. Rest, hatred does not need a reason same as love doesn’t.

      Like

    2. Hi Rekha,

      I appreciate you sharing your views, but I do not appreciate the personal digs over here. If you have read this article I believe the term ‘Abhaas fan’ would fit better because the actor I’ve appreciated the most is him.

      And of course Sanaya has a huge part, but my very first line in this article was to go beyond the obvious fact that the leads are incredibly talented. The point of this article was to appreciate the writing, production, editing, sound design and other things. Now unless Barun Sobti himself was personally responsible for writing, directing, editing, background scoring and even lighting, I do not see how you call this article biased just for him.

      I am probably biased towards the writers. They’re the ones making 30 pages of script every single day. And despite that I don’t hesitate to call out their odd plot points and tracks.

      You might assume all this based on the fact that I have a paragraph dedicated to the character Arnav Singh Raizada. But once again, if you read the article you would’ve understood that I was appreciating the concept and characterization of Arnav Singh Raizada. I was appreciating the writing behind this character.

      It’s like mentioning Fitzwilliam Darcy from Pride and Prejudice, not Colin Firth.

      Lastly I believe you’re a good person who probably hasn’t had the best interaction with this fandom – God knows I was far from a lot of things the whole time. So my only reason for this lengthy explanation is so as to you realize we’re all saying the same thing. There’s no reason to be rude or upset. As I’ve mentioned, I probably haven’t even touched the tip of the iceberg of what makes this show great.

      Liked by 1 person

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