Viewers' demands for new stories have prompted a sudden surge in unconventional and mature romances on the small screen
We are going beyond the usual prototypes and not pegging stories on a 16-year-old or a 40-year-old. The concept is bigger than the age and the good thing is broadcasters are showing courage in telling stories that are off the beaten track - Sukesh Motwani, Fiction Head, Zee
N a umra ki seema ho, na janma ka ho bandhan, jab pyaar kare koi, toh dekhe keval man, crooned Raj Babbar lovingly to Anita Raaj in Prem Geet. Those lines are being revisited and reiterated on the small screen with half-a-dozen primetime soaps playing out unusual romances, age and status no bar.
Bade Acche Laggte Hai leads the pack with a love story between a 40-plus Ram Kapoor and a 30-plus Sakshi Tanwar. Kuch Toh Log Kahenge has Mohnish Bahl in love with a girl, half his age. There's Na Bole Tum Na Maine Kuch Kaha that has a single mother of two kids attracted to a commitment-phobic bachelor. The latest is Kya Hua Tera Vaada, in which a couple married for 10 years and with three children, is trying to rekindle the lost spark between them. Soon a show called Punar Vivah, which will see a divorcee with a daughter giving life a second chance by marrying a widower with two kids, is coming up on Zee. Also, Imagine TV as part of its revamping exercise has just launched a show Mi Aaji Aur Saheb wherein the owner of a house loses his heart to the granddaughter of his housemaid, who needless to say is much younger than him. And there's Pyar Ki Naukari, which for a change, has the heroine (Aamna Shariff making a comeback to telly) falling in love with a younger guy played by Yashdeep Nain. Long ago, there was a serial Astitva - Ek Prem Kahani on similar lines that was quite popular on Zee and more recently they had Karol Bagh 12/24 with the same concept of older girl-younger guy romance.
Clearly, makers and broadcasters are moving away from the usual teenybopper romances and the staid boy-meets-girl love story. Says Sukesh Motwani, Fiction Head, Zee, "We are going beyond the usual prototypes and not pegging stories on a 16-year-old or a 40-year-old. The concept is bigger than the age and the good thing is that broadcasters are showing courage in telling stories that are off the beaten track." He cites the example of Punar Vivah, which according to him, gives a new dimension to romance. "The heroine is only 25, while the hero is 29. However, unlike the regular couples seen on TV, the girl has already gone through a messy divorce and has a daughter, while the hero is a widower with a couple of kids. He, however, has had a happy marriage and is still coping with the tragedy of losing his wife. So, when these two get married, they are carrying a lot of baggage with them and yet are giving themselves a second chance. There is a lot of fear and trepidation in both that makes for a sensitive tale."
It's a similar story but with a twist in Colors' Na Bole Tum Na Maine Kuch Kaha. Here the heroine is a widow with two children while the hero is a carefree bachelor and sparks fly between them. As Sudhir Mishra, producer of the show, says, "Love stories are all around us in real life. They have a universal appeal but it is we, as producers, who decide 'whose' story to tell and 'how' to tell it. We tell it in a sensitive, mature way that makes the romance unusual."
Prashaant Bhatt, Fiction Head, Colors, however points out that the concept of mature romances is not new to television. "We have witnessed many such shows in the past, especially in the late '90s," he reasons but avers that the concept is making a comeback, Na Bole Tum Na Maine Kuch Kaha being a case in point. Sony, which has been at the forefront in introducing unusual romances in recent times with Bade Acche..., has lately launched Kya Hua... about a 10-year-old married couple trying to bring back romance in their lives. However, Danish Khan, Vice-President, Marketing, Sony denies that Kya Hua... is a love story. "It's not a love story but a social drama, wait and watch," he says mysteriously. It's a different thing that the promos of the show have been suggesting the rekindling of lost romance between the lead pair Mona Singh and Pavan Shankar!
One thing is for sure, there's a spurt of serials with unconventional relationships. As Rajan Shahi who is producing Kuch Toh.. points out, "Somewhere the template of the boy-girl romance with family issues has got saturated. Makers are working at presenting different relationships that are close to life. It makes for a fresh storyline and presentation, which becomes the USP." Agrees Bhatt, who says the entire concept is very slice of life. "We see people of different age groups falling in love. With our constant attempt to bring relatable content to the audiences, mature love stories become an integral part of the content mix," he reckons.
The audience also gets a thumbs-up from the
makers for propelling the change. Says Motwani, "Viewers have been rejecting us. Their levels of tolerance for the usual stuff has reduced drastically, which is why we have no option but to bring novel concepts." Even Mishra credits the audience for the fresh programming mix. "We want to tell the audience a 'different story', and they are game for it. Three cheers to the audience for that," he says, raising a toast.