Two states on SCREEN
Seemingly inspired by the successful daily Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai that's set in Rajasthan, Ram Milayee Jodi seems to be Zee's attempt to blend two important TRP markets - Delhi and Gujarat.
The 9.30 pm slot has been hotly contested primetime territory between Star Plus, Zee and Colors for quite some time. While over the past one and half years it's been a close fight between Star's Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai and Zee's Agle Janam Mohe Bitiya Hi Kijo with the former often leading in the slot, in recent months Laagi Tujhse Lagan has also been a decent competition for the other two. While Star continues to back its prime property and Colors has recently shifted Laagi Tujhse Lagan to 8.30 pm to make way for Fear Factor
, Zee has sent Agle Janam to 7.30 pm to accommodate its new daily Ram Milayee Jodi in the peak primetime slot. What's interesting about Ram Milayee Jodi is that it seems to draw inspiration from Yeh Rishta... as it is writer-cum-producer Rajita Sharma's baby. Rajita had also mothered and nurtured Yeh Rishta initially before she quit.
The similarity doesn't end there, though its canvas has been painted in different colours and shades. If Yeh Rishta... is a slice-of-life post-arranged marriage love story between Naitik and Akshara as also coming together of their respective (Rajasthani) families, Ram Milayee Jodi is a love story of Anukalp and Mona, who hail from two very culturally-different worlds with precious little in common. It starts in pre-marriage days but quickly jumps into post-marriage phase and deals not just with adjustment problems between two bi-polar opposites but also their families - vegetarian Gujarati Gandhis and leg-egg-peg non-vegetarian Punjabi
Without mentioning any title, the press release credits Rajita with the scripting and creative direction of several successful shows. Rajita also prefers to be silent about her past success but says that Ram Milayee Jodi is a slice-of-life story of identifiable characters and small incidents of everyday life. "It is a love story of a shy boy and smart, modern girl. But apart from the love story and marriage, the show is about marriage between two families," says Rajita. Her manner of letting you get a hang of the characters has not changed. She did it the same way on the sets of Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai. Starting with the seniormost character of the Bedi family and moving on to the Gandhis, she gives short character sketches. Rajita's characters are drawn from everyday milieu and she has an eye for detailing.
When she says Harnaam Singh Bedi, played by Lalit Tiwari, migrated from Lahore, you know the old patriarch has to be authoritative as well as affectionate. If his son Gurnaam Singh (Sunil Sinha) has a weakness for the peg, there has to be some emotional chaos in his personal life. Vimmi (Riva Bubber) can't be a loud woman without being hyper and frank, even if she hurts someone unintentionally. If Mona (Priyal Gor) is a young, honest, beautiful and spirited girl she has to live in her illusionary world and naively believe in the goodness of people. It is difficult to imagine the principled Bharati Gandhi
(Krutika Desai) without being righteous. She would not like her son to go against her wishes or marry the girl of his choice. But that's precisely what Anukalp (Nishant Malkani) does. The shy guy next door from a small Gujarati town on a posting in Delhi falls for the vivacious Mona. It is anybody's guess whether the two have fallen in matrimonial bliss or problems. But that's what marriage is all about. Diversity of characters is necessary for creating drama
. The conflict between egg omelette and khakra on the breakfast table will lend drama to the story based in Delhi.
Probably Priyal would know what's in store for the young couple as well as the Bedis and Gandhis. Her real life mother is a Punjabi and father Gujarati. "There will be problems initially, but I think Mona will change and adjust in the Gujarati family," is her vague take on the story. Priyal says she is more like Mona. "The only difference is that I am emotional and possessive. I also cry a lot," she laughs. Nishant, who was picked up in a local train in Kolkata for a career in modelling while he was doing his MBA, is not specific either. "It is a bitter-sweet story of a young couple and their families. This is my first show in a leading role," he adds. But Sunil Sinha puts it better, "When so many serials are being made how different can one show be from the other. Yet each show is unique in its own way, just as a tree painted by different painters looks different."
Stories of marriage are universal. But in a fragmented television universe, it is important to be State/States' specific. That's the recent trend in programming. With Ram Milayee Jodi, Zee is blending two important TRP markets in one show. Two diverse cultures and the ensuring conflict can make for an interesting dinner-time appointment viewing of Gujarati thali Vs North Indian variety food. Says Zee's head of fiction Sukesh Motwani, "It is a big and important show for us. That's why we have slotted it at 9.30 pm. It is refined and subtle. The show is about co-existence and compromises. Every day life - how two families cook, speak, chat, eat - can be seen in this show."