Though most generic serials follow the below mentioned pattern, this blog entry aims at ripping apart only Malayam serials. Sorry mum!
If all the fakelandiness, dramarama, absolute idiocy and mind blowing “what the” moments in the world were combined together and screened on TV, what does one get? Why, Malayalam serials of course! Ok, just imagine the two of us, you and I, having a conversation about Malayalam serials and if you were able to point out one single malayali household wherein atleast one member of the family, who at some point in their life was NOT addicted to serials; then I do hope our space ship has enough fuel to get back to earth; because yes, we would have been having that teeny conversation in outer space!
Come 7:00 pm every malayali woman whips out that special glue to apply onto their backside. Yes special glue. You know the type that unsticks only by 10:00pm? Lavishly glued they sit in their favourite chair (the one that’s closest to the TV) and the unbearable saga begins! Empathetic wailing when innocent girls are tortured relentlessly by their wicked in laws, raucous cussing at the villans and the vamps, dying of crazy suspense and not to mention a good amount of freaking out left over for the episode the next day. And I cannot even begin to imagine the amount of sleep lost over the upcoming plot the next day. Would the evil step mother find the hidden necklace, planted by an even more evil step sister in the red box in the room of their maid who is actually her daughter but doesn’t know it OR whether the husband would finally find out that the baby his wife is carrying is actually his own child and does not belong to his wife’s lover who just happens to be his brother’s, friend’s cousin’s father! Ooooh! Thrillsville!
Forget the asinine plots for a moment. Let’s get into basics. Below are some of those moments from the land of serialdom that has me going “Which winds did you chuck all your common sense into?” every single time.
1) Things characters argue about
The things characters argue about in serials is beyond, just beyond me. Take this scenario. Evil mother in law, sweet, innocent daughter in law, idiotically helpless mama’s boy of a husband and voiceless, puppet like father in law. The daughter in law is setting the dinner table. She puts a silver spoon into the egg curry. The mother in law’s head whips up. “Did you put the silver spoon with the flower pattern into the egg curry?” The daughter in law quivers in fear. Her husband quivers in fear. The father in law quivers in fear. “That spoon” the mother in law continues in a menacing tone “is only to be used for vegetarian dishes! You have tainted that spoon! Did you know that spoon has been in our family for generations and not one woman has used that spoon for ladling out non vegetarian food!” Everyone quivers again. Mother in law throws the curry on the ground. Everyone goes to sleep hungry. The next few episodes would without a doubt revolve around the daughter in law trying to find out ways to restore the spoons purity, profusely apologizing to the mother in law, plenty of angry whipping of hair and evil glares. And all for what? A spoon people. A spoon. You get my drift.
2) The sheer blindness of characters
I say this not because any of the characters are visually handicapped but despite being gifted with proper sight, they pretend otherwise. It’s the infuriating way they do not see things that happen right in front of their eyes! It makes me want to jump into the TV set and wave my arms about to catch attention! Action people! So the mean daughter in law is attempting to poison a glass of milk kept in the fridge. This glass of milk is meant for the sweet daughter in law who has it with her breakfast. The mean DIL has almost upturned the bottle of poison into the milk when the lights of the kitchen are switched on. She whips around scared, dropping the glass of milk (which of course falls in slow motion). At the kitchen door stands the mother in law who is obviously looking down at the floor whilst switching on the light. Why? Why would you look at the floor and switch on the light in the first place? This split second gives the DIL ample time to hide next to the fridge. The glass shatters on the floor (finally!); the mother in law comes rushing towards the fridge and looks everywhere except where the DIL is “hiding” so well even I could see her blind folded! At this point I’m screaming at the mother to law to turn her head to her right for one bloody time in her life; but does she turn? NO! the DIL smirks away with glee at apparently being invisible and the mother in law deduces that it was in fact a CAT that knocked over the glass of milk. Super intelligent for cats nowadays I must say; being able to open a fridge, take out a glass of milk and then flee in a matter of seconds! SHEEEESH!
3) Slow motion
Do I even need to explain? To vent out my frustration, yes I need to! So my mum and I were eagerly awaiting the goings on in one particular serial. We had been waiting for 200 episodes for this moment to finally unfold. The mother was about to finally, finally, finally discover that the servant girl is actually her daughter by means of a photograph the girl kept in her room. The episode begins. My mother and I are on pins and needles. The mother in the serial started walking towards the girl’s room. She walks and walk and…er…walks. The next 15 minutes comprised camera shots of the mother walking from various unflattering angles. Her behind, right under her noses, her chappals slapping on the floor, her shadow bouncing on the wall, her sides and many others. In all the 200 episodes I’ve watched, the mother’s house has never, ever a resembled football field, which makes me wonder what the hell is taking her so long to get to the girl’s bedroom which is located adjacent to her room! Slow motion. Every serial director’s secret into getting decades and decades of viewership. How happy you are when you say your serial hit 500 episodes! Give me that camera and a technician and I’ll show you what slow motion means and how to hit a 1000 with that! And no the mother did not discover that the servant girl was her daughter because by the time she slow walked it to the room, the episode was done! On to 201 then!
4) Nature has a mind of its own
Every serial has a set of characters. The hero, the heroine, the vamp, the vamp’s eve vampiER mother, the good uncle, the helpless father, the comic and would you believe it, MOTHER NATURE? I kid you not. Every time the heroine starts crying, it starts raining; every time the hero gets angry, there are thunderstorms, every time it is a good day, the sun rays shine throughout the house, every time the hero tries to get his pregnant wife to the hospital for delivery, a tree falls in front of their car; I mean come on! It is good to have a connect with nature but this is way out of whack! The next thing I know, a twister is going to come rip open my roof and carry me away to never land for even writing this blog!
5) Never able to speak and the staring game
Suppose two countries are going into war and then their leaders are like cha! Let’s not have bloodshed, let’s settle this with a staring game! Whoever blinks first is the loser! Call on one of those serial actors to represent us and we will for sure be rulers of the world! Lord! Do these people ever blink! The camera is stuck on them for almost 2 minutes; capturing in close ups and different angles their red veined eyes, flaring, hairy nostrils, quivering lips, quaking moustache, sweaty forehead and not for one moment does the character blink. I have tried keeping my eyes open and the longest time I could muster was half a minute. I don’t understand how these actors keep their eyes flared open for such a long time without breaking into tears! Indeed amazing. And quite often if one person is a starer (just made that word up!) the other is the mumbler (and another). The starer is usually the mother in law and the mumbler, the daughter in law. The MIL stares and stares after posting a question to the DIL who for some reason behaves like someone cast a SILENCIO spell on her. Her mouth will be open, lips flapping about but not even a squeak is heard. Why? Why? This silence of course leads the MIL to believe that the DIL is the culprit behind the fire in the kitchen/ the stolen necklace / the ripped up saree/ and other crimes. Again I say, why?
I have been to visit relatives after they had an accident and they look like they’ve been through hell and back. Never have I seen them sitting up with the single halo of band aid around their heads with the mercurochrome bruising one side of the dressing, fully dressed in the finest sarees or shirts and heaven forbid wearing make up. But if a character in a serial were in an accident? Wow whee! Super humans I say! One minute they would be pushed in a wheel chair and the next minute they would muster all their courage, stand up with winces gone overboard and stride happily toward their car; maybe even drive it home. The ladies are always bedecked in their finery even at the hospital with thick eye make up, sparkly lips and of course that damn mercurochrome spot on their forehead. This is where I beg for realism! Atleast have the woman in a hospital smock? Atleast have the man move around in a wheel chair for 24 hours? Please?
7) Dressing (a)
I often wonder who does the wardrobe and make up for all these serial actors. My mother once told me that they select their own clothes. If that is the case then there is a mass attack of “horrendous taste” of the ugliest kind! The “cool girls” wear ill fitting jeans with flowery embroidery, an unpleasantly tight or loose t shirt or top, knobbly shoes and of course a bindi. What is that? The “vamps” have a selection of garishly printed sarees paired with a disbelievingly differently patterned blouse, awful thick red/maroon/brown/black lipstick and the biggest bindis in the world. Most of the women were so much jewellery, it is a wonder they are no kidnappings and calls for ransom every second. They even sleep with all the jewellery on! I actually tried it once and it was a long, long night my friends!
8) Dress change=personality change (b)
There are times when the vamps, the bad mother in laws, the wicked sister in laws come to realization of their faults. They cry a river, fall at the respective feet of everyone they have traumatized (probably all the characters) and then vow to change for the better. This is when a wardrobe change happens. Red lipstick mopped off for a sweet pink, elephantine bindi replaced by a mole like dot, blindingly colourful sarees thrown away for simple pattu sarees or sarees in various shades of white. The younger girls shift from their jeans, dresses and salwaars to sarees. Is saree a universal code for “I have become a better human?” well I know a lot of humans who wear sarees who could give nasty female characters in serials a run for their money!
9) Smallest suitcase possible
A flower pot was broken, the accused leaves the house. A love letter was written, the guilty party leaves the house. Someone shouts at the pet dog, the hurt owner leaves the house. A son is blamed of thievery, he leaves the house to prove himself true. And every single time I always want to know what it is that they throw into that teeny, tiny suitcase that they carry with them when they leave! They rush to their room, pick up three soiled sarees and crumply shirts that are hanging on the rack (presumably already used and I don’t ever see them chucking any underwear, toothbrush or other necessities in!) into the smallest suitcase or duffel bag they can find and exit the house. How realistic is that? Most often the person who leaves the house leaves without any money and is seen having a tough time with life. Despite having no money to even buy food, he/she is always seen wearing a different set of clothes every day. I suppose the suitcase regurgitates clothes, how else is this supposed to happen?
10) Re birth
This is one of the most irritating points to ponder. No one really dies in serials because at some point, perhaps during the 399th episode, the person who was presumably dead comes back to life and the 400th episode starts. Sometimes they come back from a coma from which the doctors had said they would never wake up. Of course they would wake up as the doctor’s hand moves in slowwwww motion toward the plug to shut down the equipment. Not at all obvious! Then there are times accident victims come back looking sexy and successful when they were complete baboons pre accident. They would have been rescued and treated by the kookanabi tribe and on the way back home would find a man left to die on the side of the road. Upon rescue the victim is revealed tobe a millionaire who lends a hand or say a few million to his helper and then no one knows who this sexy, rich stranger is and till 499 it will be a game of “who is bachelor no.1”! Again not obvious. Another type of rebirth is the supernatural type when the dead person is born again in another physical form. You know what would be funny though? When a man is reborn in a woman’s body! Make a serial around that why don’t you? They don’t say rest in peace for nothing people! Let the dead characters rest in peace!
Having said all this I do enjoy a dose of mundane mendacity once in a while. It’s good for the system in small doses; after all, laughter is the best medicine!