A huge sigh of relief. I was over-the-moon when I saw Sony Entertainment's Rihaee, not because it's as well-made as that other socially-charged show Bhanwar that came aeons ago on the same channel.
Certainly not! But Rihaee with its frantic pacing and bang-on treatment of women's issues, re-kindles thoughts of what television was meant to be all along. Somewhere in its craggy journey, the soap culture swallowed the whole purpose of the home medium. The soap evaporated, only the bubbles remain.
Rihaee goes back to the basics. And taking television to its roots are Nakul Vaid and Rajeshwari Sawant. The two actors have the correct physicality, posture and image to talk about women's issues convincingly. Though Rajeshwari has been an integral part of television (she did a rather interesting vampish role in Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki, and also a very good telefilm on Sahara recently about an alcoholic wife), Nakul Vaid has returned to television after quite an hiatus.
Vaid was introduced to television in the campus soap Challenge. Recently, he gave a compelling performance as Nana Patekar's "rookhie-rookhie-si-zindagi" companion in the film Ab Tak Chappan. But this talented actor has been unable to find a place in cinema.
For now cinema's loss is television's gain. Vaid's sincere personality renders itself rather richly to Rihaee's rippling effect.
The first two episodes about an abused wife and her schizophrenic husband were deliberately dramatized and able to drive in their message without losing the entertainment value underlining the endeavour to educate. Some of the characters, like the beads-beads-boom-boom Bua were grotesquely caricatural. Nothing wrong with that as long as the purpose behind the kitsch is "kuch".
That 'kuch' factor has gone out of fiction programming. I can't figure out what the time-jump in Kasauti Zindagi Kay hopes to achieve. The young crowd looks like it has attended the same finishing school. They don't speak their lines. They drawl . They play basketball on fancy courts and move on the dance floor as though their feet had no purpose in life.
Then there's a chappie who eats all the time. The glutton should have come with a button. At least we could've put a stop to his excesses.
I like the way Indian Idol got to its finalists, without fuss but nonetheless with a flourish. Saif Ali Khan was supposed to be the celebrity judge. But he injured his toe and sent a video-message that he couldn't come. Couldn't figure out the connection between Saif's toe and his judgment powers.
More sporting was Shilpa Shetty who not only met the Indian Idol finalists with great warmth but also sang a few lines of "Waqt ne kiya kya haseen situm…"