By Girija J Iyer
Has the story of Anupamaa reached its cul de sac?
Though every series during its launch promises to offer “something new and fresh”, it never actually does, and follows the beaten track of boy and girl “hate getting converted into love”. If the pair clicks, the series clicks; otherwise, it finds its way out due to low TRPs.
In this scenario, Star Plus’s series “Anupamaa” indeed offered something new. It started with the fable of a very ordinary-looking, middle-aged housewife who would manage to pass on the message of strength and independence by working her way through a loveless marriage. The fable turned into a veritable “fairy tale” with the arrival of Anuj Kapadia, a perfect second chance at love for the protagonist, Anupama.
For most of us ardent viewers, with this Anupama got her due. The story came full circle when on 12th December in the maha- episode where we saw the egoistic Vanraj asking Anupama to move on with Anuj in her life because “he is the right man for her”. Even before that, when this erring misogynist husband literally knelt down before her and begged to forgive him and not give him a divorce, it smelled of a sweet victory. Anupama had moved on and the person who wronged her had nothing to live with but regret. A perfect end to a well-told story.
But for three months after that episode, with the ex-wife and the present wife under the same roof, the show was dragged through silly catfights between women. Then on 2nd September, Anuj Kapadia made an entry as Anupama’s prince charming. He brought all the love she had been deprived of till now and proved to be an instant hit.
A massive hit with women, this character cut across age, region, and borders and turned into a heartthrob for millions of viewers. The actor who plays this role, Gaurav Khanna is now termed a “national crush”. With his personal charm, Khanna, aka Kapadia, was able to convince the female viewers that a man can love a woman unconditionally for twenty-six long years. The makers were selling a fantasy, but the women liked this fairy tale — partly due to the well-written scenes and partly due to Khanna’s personal charisma.
Now after all of these high points, drama, and melodrama, Anupama also said yes to Anuj’s love (though the famous izhaar e mohabbat from Anupama’s side has yet to occur), but what comes next?
It’s no mystery how the TV industry works. You cannot end a show because you have told your story. You have to keep it running till your TRPs fall to embarrassingly low levels. Anupamaa, after she moved on from the marriage, could have ended her story right there, but Anuj Kapadia gave the show an unbeatable 4.4. Now perhaps a new character entry, could sustain these ratings? Perhaps, another character could keep the audience invested for another six months? And this is how Malvika, played by Aneri Vajani, came into the picture.
Has Malvika done as well as Anuj Kapadia in terms of TRPs?
With Malvika’s arrival as an “instant Kapadia sister,” the reactions of the viewers were mixed, but it has not made an impact on TRPs yet because the viewers themselves are confused as to whether to accept her as a sister to Anuj Kapadia. Till Malvika’s arrival, AK’s undivided attention rested on Anupama, pining for her love. Now, AK is also a loving, responsible brother. To that mess, they have added one more dimension. He is guilt-ridden for spoiling his sister’s love life and marrying her off to a man who subjected her to domestic and sexual violence.
The screen has now become crowded. Kavya, who is now the wife of Vanraj, has no role to play, and she herself does not know what she should do in the “Shah house”. Vanraj had already given her a divorce notice and nobody in the house cares for her. So what is she doing? An MBA graduate with several years of work experience is now jobless, and instead of looking for a job, she is making efforts to be a good “biwi and bahu,” something that is ridiculous by any standard.
There are now five main characters now. Three in Kapadia House and two in Shah House. How can the writers do justice to all the characters with just 21 minutes of air time every day? The makers have not even dispensed with the bhullakad Mama Ji and his “mane remember che.”
In a daily soap, as new characters enter, the old ones should be chopped off. This can be done with the characters of Shah Pariwar who have all been exploited ad nauseum. Toshu’s selfishness, Kinjal’s magnanimity, Ba’s tirade and subsequent repentance, Pakhi’s tantrums, Samar-Nandini’s love (hate-love), have all been over done now.
The greatest problem with this motley group of characters is that the only person who can retain the viewers on the screen is Khanna, so the makers are giving at least ten to twelve minutes of air time to him exclusively. And Anuj Kapadia is not doing much lately except, ranting, raving or crying about his sister when he is not flirting with Anupama.
Any story moves on the concept of conflict, as conflict is the essence of any drama.
The conflict must be between Anuj-Anupama and Vanraj. What part will Malvika or Kavya play? Is there a debate in the writers room about what to do with Malvika?
To buy time, they have introduced a new track – Malvika is a victim of an abusive marriage where she was abused and Anuj is responsible for it. So Anupama has a new purpose in being here to shower love on her and help her overcome the bitter past. But wasn’t Anupama supposed to make a name for herself in the world of business? Now she is tied down to domestic problems again. Is it because as an audience, we might like to believe we like to root for professionally successful women, but in our hearts we find more satisfaction in watching women broiled in emotional relationships?