Monthly Archives: January 2013

Making of a hit TV show in India

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I’ll be the first to say that I am not a fan of daily soaps, characters are not well defined, and the story lines and dialogues are quite predictable. But despite all that, these soaps are very popular.

My mom, mom-in-law and all of their friends watch it, and these are produced not just in Hindi but regional languages as well. So at least a 100 shows if not more. My mom has actually gotten my dad hooked onto a couple of these shows as well, and sometimes he’ll tell me things like, ‘Gopi did this, and should try being the same’. And I am sitting and wondering who do we know with this name, and it’ll strike me that it’s a character from his favorite show, Saath Nibhana Saathiya.

Snapshot of Indian soaps

Snapshot of Indian soaps

Here are some of the trends that I have noticed, and trust me if you are thinking of making a daily soap in India, and you incorporate even one of these, you have TV gold in your hands.

  1. Movie promotions: this is a fairly new trend, wherein the lead pairs of a soon to be released movie make an appearance in one of the daily soaps. It actually does make sense to use this as a promotional tool since these soaps are quite popular with the middle class.

    Aamir Khan on CID before the release of his latest movie, Talaash

    Aamir Khan on CID before the release of his latest movie, Talaash

  2. Forced or arranged marriage, and then falling in love with cheesy background music: the marriage occurs due to any reason ranging from it being arranged at the time of their birth to the love of the girls life dies and she has to marry his brother. But no matter the circumstances, without fail they always fall in love.
  3. Amnesia: wherein one of the main characters suffers a fall or is involved in a horrible car accident after which a few years of their life are erased. Usually happens after a conflict has just been resolved.
  4. Reincarnation: sometimes a character dies, and is reincarnated with memory of their past life, and at some point they obviously meet their past life family. If this character was married, there is also the story line, where the couple reunites.
  5. Huge mansions but no explainable source of income: the rich have huge mansions, with gardens, pools, luxury cars, but most characters hardly seem to spend time at work. The only time work gets mentioned is a crisis needs to be created where in the villain is trying to take over the company or if the family is about to go bankrupt. It happens more times than you can imagine. But even in those cases you do not exactly know if their line of work is textiles or hospitality.
  6. Festivals with song and dance: just like with American TV shows, all major festivals and events are celebrated on Indian TV as well. But instead of the story moving forward with the festival as a theme, an episode is usually dedicated to the festival itself, wherein the story more or less pauses. Mansions are decorated, and there are elaborate dance routines.
  7. Time lapse, usually a decade: I do not watch Indian soaps, other than Bade Ache Lagte Hain, and that too because I find Ram Kapoor cute. There was recently a time jump of a few years on the show, where is baby daughter is now grown up, and his wife returns are settles in India, after previously fleeing to Dubai because her family believed she had died ina  car crash. Most shows usually move at a slow pace, and you can usually catch up on them by just watching the trailers. The only major movement happens, when a time lapse occurs. Kids become adults, adults are now older, but with no change in their makeup or clothes. Since there is never any references to years, it all tends to move along smoothly.

    Bade Acche Lagte Hain

    Bade Acche Lagte Hain

  8. Elders who do not age: mothers are always trendy and the grandmothers are always hale and hearty even when shows have jumped 10 or in some cases 20 years. A popular show, which ran for almost 10 years was Kyunki Saas Bhi Kbhi Bahu Thi, and the great-great grandmother or Baa as she was fondly called must have been at least 120 years old if all the time lapses and re-incarnations were taken into account. Yet she was hardly bed-ridden, and would always be dancing at the numerous weddings and festivals.

    Some of the characters of Kyunki Saas Bhi Kbhi Bahu Thi, with the never aging Baa.

    Some of the characters of Kyunki Saas Bhi Kbhi Bahu Thi, with the never aging Baa.

  9. Everyone immaculately dressed in heavy clothes and jewelry, even if they are poor: the soaps as with the movies provide an escape to the audience, and so I think an important part of it is for all the characters to look good even if they play poor. The younger men are dressed in jeans/pants and shirts, while the older ones are always dressed in traditional men’s wear. The women however, both young and old are always dressed in traditional attire. One main reason for this is obviously the target audience, who would not easily identify with women in western wear.
  10. The need for all main characters to always be in the same room at all times.

Shows today are moving away from primarily the mother-in-law and daughter-in-law dramas of the last decade and inching towards addressing social issues that plague the society.

I remember watching Friends, and each of the characters was clearly defined, from the way they dressed to their mannerisms and it more or less stayed the same throughout the shows run. In india you wouldn’t really be able to tell one from the other, and the characters could easily be moved across shows and it wouldn’t make much of a difference.

Are any of you fans of soaps?

Sari-Defining Indian Beauty

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It’s award season in India and around the globe, and tonight I just finished watching the Zee Cine Awards. While I was seeing and passing commentary on everyone’s dresses, I realized that the indian sari (saree) is still very fashionable amongst the attendees, even as international designer gowns make their way to the Indian red carpet. I wasn’t a fan of wearing a sari earlier, I always preferred other Indian outfits such as a suit piece, or lenhga for events, but I have become a new found fan of the sari.

A sari is basically a single cloth piece of 5 yards that is draped around you. The most popular style of draping is to have majority of the sari wrapped around the waist, with one end pinned to your left shoulder. This style tends to leave your midriff open. To make the sari look even more stylish or modern, a lot of women opt for backless, halter, patterned, or contrast blouses. The blouse design adds more  “omph” to the entire outfit.

I can count on my fingers the number of times I have worn a sari to an event. There are a lot of reasons behind it, the major one being that if not draped or pinned properly, the sari can become quite difficult to walk in. However, like anything in women’s fashion, there is a reason behind the madness of wearing a sari. I officially declare that sari makes an Indian woman look most elegant, graceful, and sexy!

I have attended my fair share of wedding in the past two months and have worn a sari to each wedding. I did need assistance in draping the sari as I am still learning all the dos and don’t of sari draping, but overall it was a great experience. I got numerous compliments on wearing a sari, and which lady doesn’t like that?

Me trying to bring Sexy Back in a almost backless sari blouse

Me trying to bring Sexy Back in a almost backless sari blouse

The sari has also made a splash on the international red carpet. Most recently, we saw Indian actress, Tabu (starred in Life of Pi) wearing a gorgeous red Abu-Sandeep sari.

Tabu in a mirror work blouse and red sari by Abu-Sandeep

Tabu in a mirror work blouse and red sari by Abu-Sandeep

The used to be famous Pussy Cat Dolls also wore sarees to a red carpet event several years back.

Pussycat Dolls owned the red carpet in black sarees draped in multiple ways

Pussycat Dolls owned the red carpet in black sarees draped in multiple ways

Like any other clothing, the styles and types of sarees continue to change. However, what doesn’t change is the fact they make all women look their best. Here is to more sari draping and shopping in 2013!

Color Screen Awards

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The award season has started, both in Hollywood and Bollywood. The Globes without doubt had some amazing dresses on display, and here at the Screen awards, which were telecast tonight we saw some nice couture as well.

Katrina Kaif, Deepika Padukone and Aditi Rao Hydari were some of the hits of the evening, while Alia Bhatt, Sonakshi Sinha and the Chopra sisters were definite misses on the red carpet.

Katrina Kaif in Naeem Khan

Katrina Kaif in Naeem Khan

Aditi Rao Hydar in Gauri and Nanika

Aditi Rao Hydar in Gauri and Nanika

Arjun Ramphal

Arjun Ramphal

Deepika Padukone in Dolce and Gabbana

Deepika Padukone in Dolce and Gabbana

Alia bhatt in  Gaurav Gupta

Alia Bhatt in Gaurav Gupta

Sonakshi Sinha in Egyptian inspired Falguni and Shane Peacock

Sonakshi Sinha in Egyptian inspired Falguni and Shane Peacock

Vidya Balan in yet another saree

Vidya Balan in yet another saree

Parineeti Chopra in Sabyasachi

Parineeti Chopra in Sabyasachi

Priyanka Chopra in Roberto Cavali

Priyanka Chopra in Roberto Cavalli

No Indian award show is complete without some performances. And this year saw the likes of Sonakshi Sinha, Ranveer Singh, Priyanka Chopra, and Ranbir Kapoor shake a leg to song old and new.

Priyanka Chopra during her year in review act

Priyanka Chopra during her year in review act

Ranbir Kapoor performing a tribute to 100 years of Indian cinema

Ranbir Kapoor performing a tribute to 100 years of Indian cinema

Loved Priyanka Chopra’s performance, which was a mash up songs paying tribute to the events of last year. Sonakshi Sinha performed on her hit songs of the year, while Ranbir paid a tribute to 100 years of Indian cinema performing some of the hits of the Kapoor family.

Katrina was a little expressionless as in her movies, Deepika had the perfect hair and makeup, Ranveer Singh desperately needs a haircut and a shave, Vidya Balan needs to dress in something other than a saree, and Malaika showed us how to continue looking hot at 40.

Shah Rukh Khan was a great host, and he acts the right amount of silly. I had the chance of seeing him perform live at the Mumbai Police Show last year and the audience loves his antics. The best part is that he looks like he is enjoying himself immensely as well.

My only disappointment: Salman Khan did not perform.

Kitty of a Different Kind

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This past weekend I attended a kitty, which can be best described as a get together usually of married women. These kitties usually have a common factor, either you live in the same condo complex, or your husband’s work in the same company etc. In my case it was for daughter-in-laws from my residential society.

This is just my second kitty, the first one I was a part of was the daughter-in-laws and/or daughters of my mom-in-laws friends who were married. These gatherings are a great way to meet new people and make friends, especially if you are new to the city or a residential neighborhood.

Mine is a lunch kitty, which just means that we either go over to the host’s house or an outside venue to meet, play a few games (with prizes of course), gossip and have lunch. They are hosted once a month, and each member must play host. The host is also given a pre-set amount by rest of the members. Our kitty is for Rs. 2000, and since we are nine members, the host takes in Rs. 16000. It’s a good way to have a bulk amount, which as I have seen so far has been used for shopping. My mom usually ends up buying gold with her kitty amount.

So, our kitty was at a member’s apartment, and out of the eight present I only knew two. But despite all of us being from different backgrounds we hit it off. We played two games, one was wrapping a saree and striking a supermodel pose in the shortest amount of time, and another was a song game, similar to antakshari.

Lunch was a delicious spread of dabeli, upma, and sweets, and we all ate until we were stuffed. And considering it was almost 3 pm by the time we got to lunch, you can be sure we are extremely hungry.

I play host next month, what do you suggest I cook up? I am thinking idli sambar, samosas, and rasgullas.

Oh! Calcutta – Food Diaries

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Taking a completely different route for hump Wednesday, I had a chance to visit a restaurant in my new hometown of Pune. My husband had booked a table at Oh! Calcutta. He had mentioned the place as one he wanted to try for quite a while but never got to it. We both are foodies and will pretty much try anything. I have never ever had Bengali food and therefore didn’t even know what to expect. Utilizing Yelp in the US had made me accustomed to looking at reviews and even menus of new restaurants-therefore if I am starving I don’t waste any time in ordering my dish. The reviews on Zomato for Oh! Calcutta were quite positive and this made me even more excited for our mid week breakaway.

So what was the experience like? OMG!! It was amazing; everything from the ambiance, service, to mouth watering dishes. We hogged and hogged and came home feeling super stuffed and happy. We ordered 3 appetizers, one entree, and couldn’t pass up on dessert either. Our starters consisted of Mochar Chop (Banana Flower Croquettes), Calcutta Fish Fry, and Murshidabadi Murgi Fry (Pan Grilled Chicken with herbs). The starters appeared on our table in may be 2-3 minutes and this was great as we both were quite famished. The banana flower croquettes was probably the most interesting to taste. The croquettes reminded me of mini vegetable kebabs, but the mustard dip sauce made it a completely new dish altogether.

We had quite a funny experience while we waited for our entree of Chingri Malai Curry (Prawns in Coconut Cream Sauce). We were talking about day and how this was actually the first time we had gone out for dinner as husband and wife, and out of the blue, our waiter served a shot glass full of green chillies. We asked the waiter how spicy the chillies were and he said extremely spicy. Oddly, this made us want to try them even more! We both had the tiniest bite possible and it was enough to burn our tongues. What was our saving grace from the spicy was the entree. I think the waiter had probably planned to serve our dishes in this order. The coconut curry with light, went extremely well with our steamed rice, and made us forget the whole mouth burning sensation. The entree was so wonderful, that I helped myself to two serving, throwing my whole eating no carbs in the night mantra out the door.

Even though we were stuffed, we couldn’t pass up on dessert. After debating between the famous Bengali Rosgullas or Misti Doi,we settled for Gur ka ice cream. Not to be kidding, but we finished this delicacy up in may be 2 minutes. I am horrible at describing the taste, but I think it is sorta similar to Dolce De Leche.

Like I said, we returned home stuffed and happy. Overall, what a fabulous meal!!! I can’t wait to go back to Oh! Calcutta and try more of their interesting flavours. Also, what better way to get over hump days 🙂

Our Entree of Prawns in Creamy Coconut Curry

Our Entree of Prawns in Creamy Coconut Curry

Super Duper Hot Chillies

Super Duper Hot Chillies

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