For those of you who plan on tuning into Sony TV’s latest offering Pehredaar Piya Ki, be warned that the show’s content may not be for the faint of heart.
The current track record of the Indian soap unfolds with the wedding between a 19-year-old woman and a nine-year-old child. The latter is a prince, who requires a bodyguard, and what better way to protect him than by marrying him off to someone twice his age?
His protector, played by Tejasswi Prakash, is supposed to be his knight in glittering ensemble, but is scared of cockroaches as depicted in one of the show’s earlier episodes, where she leaps up in fright upon sighting a critter and falls into the waiting arms of the nine-year-old prince who is in the midst of stalking her and taking her pictures on the sly.
The public outcry surrounding the show and its progressing storyline has yet to calm down, with Indian TV actor and host Karan Wahi even taking to Facebook to post a message on its content, saying: “Dear producer and channel ... I understand we can’t make shows like How I Met Your Mother and Friends … please don’t sell me stupidity in the name of content, which gives TRP because honestly no one is watching this [sic].”
While its makers have come out to defend the show, lead star Prakash also took to Instagram to post: “It’s a beautiful story which is one of the most talked about and one of the most misunderstood shows lately ... I feel proud to be a part of it and you’ll know why ...”
Even as the marriage track and the controversy continues, Pehredaar Piya Ki is far from being the only Indian TV soap that has lost the plot over its course. Gulf News tabloid! takes a look at other shows that steered their boat into unchartered territory:
Sasural Simar Ka
Plot: Sisters Simar and Roli marry brothers Prem and Siddhant Bharadwaj. Trying to move away from typical family soaps, the show introduced supernatural elements to keep viewers guessing.
The Colors TV show had it all, from evil witches to Sara Khan playing an ‘Icchadhari Naagin’ (a shape-shifting snake that could take on human form at will). That, of course, didn’t mean formulaic tracks of plastic surgery makeovers didn’t come into play as well. Makers also took a page out Game of Thrones by creating a own Hall of Faces with its lead cast.
Standout moment: When protagonist Simar was transformed into a fly. This track seemed to take inspiration from the Telugu film Eega, which was also remade as Makkhi in Hindi. Twitter flew in with zeal to take a swat at this plot twist.
Plot: Cousins Shivanya and Shesha, who also happen to be shape-shifting snakes, embark on a mission to avenge the death of their family members. Along the way, a love triangle ensues when the serpents slip into a tug of war over Ritik. The show is now going to air its third season in November, with the next generation of shape-shifters exacting revenge.
The first season of the Colors TV show, which shot actress Mouni Roy to fame, went on to become one of the highest rated shows on Indian television. To give it its due, the makers of Naagin never tried to hide the fact that it followed the fantasy track to pull in viewers.
Standout moment: When a shape-shifting honeybee buzzed in to add some sting to the proceedings (sorry, we can’t help it). Aashka Goradia starred in season one and two as Rani Avantika, Queen of the Mahishmati kingdom. Her Icchadhari Madhumakkhi, or shape-shifting honeybee, flew up the ranks as one of the main protagonists in season two.
Plot: It was pegged as a path-breaking show that would shatter all stereotypes of the Muslim community in India. At the centre of it all was a love story between its two lead stars, Zoya (Surbhi Jyoti) and Asad (Karan Singh Grover).
However, things started to unspool when Grover decided to quit the show and he was replaced with Raqesh Vashisth. With the drop in ratings, the show took its first 20-year time jump with Jyoti now reborn as twins, Sanam and Seher. A memory loss later, Sanam transforms into Jannat. Then she dies. And Jyoti returns as Sanam’s reincarnation, Mahira.
Over the duration of this Zee TV-produced show, actress Jyoti ended up with 10 male leads romancing her on screen.
Standout moment: What started out as a romcom, turned into a supernatural parody during the later years. During the twins arc, a fake Sanam was also introduced into the show as a witch with eternal youth.
When the real one dies as is reborn as Mahira, she inadvertently grows up to fall in love with the witch’s son, who is obviously a vampire. Because, why not?
Thapki Pyaar Ki
Plot: The show, which ended its two-year run last month, revolves around a girl nicknamed Thapki (Jigyasa Singh) whose stutter presents a roadblock to finding true love. Until she finally does, not once, not twice, but three times. However, family melodrama keeps Thapki away from various men until three time leaps later, when true love finally conquers all.
The Colors TV show started on an uplifting note with a determined young woman who doesn’t allow her speech impediment to come in the way of her life goals. But somewhere along the way, Thapki Pyaar Ki regresses to the tried-and-tested Indian soap plot twists: Thapki’s evil twin is unveiled, and she turns good with the croon of a childhood lullaby; lead hero Bihaan (Manish Goplani) also has a lookalike hidden away who is resurrected as Aryan when the former kicks the bucket; throw in amnesia, plastic surgery makeovers and everyone attempting to kill anyone.
Standout moment: There were several, we assure you, but things really leaped into the realm of the bizarre when Thapki’s daughter, Bani, comes home with a gorilla at her heels that promptly falls in love with her. Nope, we really don’t have anything else to add, except that King Kong called and he wants his story back.
Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi
Plot: The Star Plus series that changed the face of Indian television as we know it, Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi saw the trials and tribulations of the Virani family through generations. The series became a case study for imbibing good Indian family values, while its main protagonist, Tulsi (played by Smriti Irani), became the poster child of a model daughter-in-law.
Matrimonial websites often carried advertisements seeking a girl like Tulsi. Show producer Ekta Kapoor milked the masses with never before seen emotional melodrama, even as glycerine was hauled in by the buckets to keep up with the steady supply of never-ending tears. Such was the power of this on-screen Gujarati family that when lead Mihir Virani (then Amar Upadhyay) was killed off, mass public protests erupted across India.
Standout moment: For a series that saw 12 main characters at any given time, airing across eight years on telly and indulging in several time leaps to fast-track the story, things can get kind of messy along the way.
But the show also toed the line between sense and nonsense, with the lead Mihir Virani being portrayed by three different actors, including the late Inder Kumar and Ronit Roy. Tulsi also saw a makeover when Gautami Gadgil Kapoor took over when Irani had a spat with Balaji Telefilms head, Kapoor.
Several months later, the two called a truce and Irani returned to the show with Gadgil Kapoor declared an impostor overnight.
Spouses interchanged, babies were handed out as parting gifts to childless couples, coma, plastic surgery, twins, doppelgangers — you name it, the writers tried it.
However, everyone’s personal favourite was the ageless matriarch Baa, who endured two 20-year time leaps in the story and still stood tall. Some rumoured her age shy of 400; others didn’t care. Baa was the universal grandmother to all of India and she couldn’t die. And then she did on the show.