Marriages are dime a dozen in serials. Every fiction show has a young married couple. Though marriages happen within no time, they are probably the most loveless and platonic relationships. Not because TV couples are incompatible, or have issues relating to adjustment and lack of understanding. On the contrary, the girl is an ideal wife and boy, a dream husband. However, once they tie the knot, the plotting and scheming relatives delay consummation of marriage by several months or a year in some cases. The chaotic drama in the family takes such a toll on their relationship that they end up as sad and sexless couples in world. Even generation leaps don't make a difference to their lives. Real life 40-plus couples are supposed to be emotionally and physically a happier lot, but not in serials. Their marriage may be intact but they go their own ways or live separately. Take the case of Ram and Priya of Bade Achhe Lagte Hain. Three months after their marriage they had their honeymoon in Australia recently but returned home without biting the proverbial apple. They continue to sleep on separate beds and now with the breast cancer track kicking off, it's very unlikely that they will share the conjugal bed any time soon. However, the honeymoon special track took the show's rating to 5 TVR, its highest since the launch in June and now it is back to its old average of 3.5. Gopi and Ahem of Saath Nibhana Saathiya have been hardly married for more than a year, but only recently they started talking to each other. Sooraj and Sandhya of Diya Aur Baati Hum got married four months ago but they sleep separately in the same room. Manav and Archana of Pavitra Rishta went through hell for nearly two years before consummating their marriage, which was a high point in the show's rating of close to 5.5 TVR. Why is consummation a big problem and why are TV marriages loveless? "They are designed to be non-physical and loveless because a happy husband-wife relationship is hardly dramatic," says former TV programmer-turned-producer Saurabh Tewari. He elaborates, "The story is structured in such a way that no stone is left unturned to keep the couple apart. Ratings come when there is a wedge in relationship." Apparently, it is the most tried-and-tested formula of success. Ratings start coming in when the couple goes through the highs and lows in their relationship. Hence consummation becomes the most eagerly awaited event in the story.Zee's head of fiction Sukesh Motwani doesn't disagree but says consummation needs to be treated with lot of caution on Hindi GECs because it is considered to be very important. "Most stories deal with love after marriage and consummation completes the relationship. Till the couple falls in love they cannot consummate. Or if they fall in love they have to overcome problems from the family. In either case, consummation is a crucial point. Hence viewers keep waiting for it." Writer-producer Rakesh Paswan of Afsar Bitiya, who earlier wrote Bhagyavidhata and conceived and produced Baba Aiso Varr Dhoondo, is of the view that consummation depends on how the story is taken forward. "Bhagyavi-dhata, for instance, was a story of marriage at gun point. It was an unwanted marriage that had to turn into a happy one and hence consummation happened more than a year later. Similarly marriage couldn't have been consummated soon in Baba Aiso… the boy marrying a dwarf girl was a compromise. In a relationship story, physical aspect is always a high point but if it happens too soon then the story ends," he defends. Whether it is a demand of story, rating compulsion or plain and simple formula to keep viewers' interest intact, producer Sudhir Sharma of 12/24 Karol Bagh and Na Bole Tum Na Maine Kuch Kaha says there is nothing as beautiful and complicated as marriage. "Socially and emotionally it is a big trigger for relatable and dramatic content. However, when you are making a five-day daily, the sheer quantity of content required each week compels you to use marital conflict to boost ratings," he reasons. As the story revolves around creating marital discord, most of the drama happens in the living room.
According to Ravindra Gautam, the former director of Bade Achhe Lagte Hain who is currently helming Kya Hua Tera Vaada, soaps can be broadly divided into two categories — love stories that culminate into marriage, and family dramas that start with marriage and culminate into consummation. "The crux of a family drama is a marriage to consummation story. Once consummation happens, the relationship moves into a new zone and needs a generation leap. Hence the delay. However, not many actors are happy playing parents," he explains