' new show, Belanwali Bahu marks the return of Krystle Dsouza
to TV. It also brings viewers a new comedy show that just might be a departure from what we are used to seeing in comedy as a genre. From a rather laughable promo and a cringe-worthy title track, we had our reservations with this show, so we watched a bunch of episodes to see what it's all about.
Here's what we thought of the first few episodes of the show-
Behanwali Bahu begins with a montage of couples expressing their distaste in marriage till it zooms in on Awasthi Niwas which becomes the setting for the plot. Awasthi Niwas was apparently made by Taj Mahal's workers (who's arms were chopped off) and so it is a home that creeks and rattles every time a train passes at the nearby railway tracks. The family that occupies it is just as dysfunctional - The head of the family, Rajnath ji (Sudhir Pandey
) is a widower who due to his interest in his nurse, Suzie (Shraddha Jaiswal
) stays in a wheelchair despite not needing one, his son Premnath (Mushtaq Khan
) along with his wife, Premlatha (Bhavana Balsawer
) constantly try to maintain order, their son Jitendra (Sikandar Kharbanda
) is a suspended officer who still wears his uniform and his wife Shalini (Sunayana Fozdar
) is hopelessly addicted to taking selfies and making up stories of ghosts to evade work. The lead characters, Amarnath Awasthi (Dheeraj Sarna
) and his wife Roopa (Krystle Dsouza
) are the most mismatched couple that were brought together due to the death of the latter's sister, Niroopa who was married to Amar first. The story revolves around this set of characters and it leads to the most bizarre situations.
Roopa is introduced in a sequence of blunders that she commits as a part of her daily tasks like cooking, walking around the house and actions as simple as chiding her husband. These result in disasters like kheer falling on the pandit during a prayer meet, ripping off her husband's shirt sleeve, a mess in a supermarket and finally, the accidental killing of Amarnath with a belan. The belan is wielded both as a weapon and as a symbol of domestic responsibilities of a bahu. Roopa is all set to cook ajwain ke parathe for her husband as it is their anniversary (which is also her sister's death anniversary) but, a complain from her husband sends her in a fit of anger and sadness as she tries to cook another batch but ends up swinging it in anger with tears in her eyes. This belan lands on Amarnath's head and becomes the cause of his death. Here, viewers are informed that Amar's spirit, unable to be free is caught up in the world where only Roopa (and dogs) can see him. Amar, who is lovingly called laddoo dies the same way he lives - angry. The man spends his life grudgingly complaining and his spirit rages at Roopa for killing him and vows to see her hanged for the crime.
Roopa faints, Jitendra and his father assume he is drunk when they find him in an unconscious state with his eyes open and put him in a wheelchair. The wine shop owner brings him back to the home as his wheelchair stays into the street. After a long sequence of confusions (and exchange of hands handling Amar) that starts with family members assuming Amar is sitting still because he is drunk, the family finally realises that he is in fact, dead. Roopa reminisces the past and we are given a peak into the little moments of love between the general stiffness and fumbling that ensues between the couple. Comedy is blended in these emotional moments.
Next in line is a funeral and the mukti rituals for the late Amar. There are a series of hilarious events that range from the pandit trying to wrap up the pooja just to go back to his wife since she orders him to take her and her mother for an action movie, goons smuggling in a bomb at the shamshan ghat and the resultant tossing of urns containing ashes in the water. Amar at every step tries to hinder the rituals as he wants to stay around to see his wife punished. Roopa, amidst the chaos hides Amar's urn and takes it back with the intention of having an asthi visarjan only after turning herself in to the cops.The Good
Belan bahu has an unexpectedly smart mix of satire and comedy. There are scenes of biting critique on funerals, marriages, family bonds and society in general. A particularly grim moment plays out where the family is yelling at Amar while he's on a wheelchair dead as the dadaji only cares about things like reputation and getting his wheelchair back. Priorities are revealed in hilarious ways as Shalini claims to see ghosts who do not allow her to do any chores at home, Premlatha sells Amar's stuff in exchange for profits and a joker card reminds Narendraof his late brother. The humour creates a layer of laughter over the otherwise grave matter of the happenings of the show.
We love the laughter track, the stage-like setting and the clever use of words. The names of the characters, like in a classic comedies, are in themselves jokes (the dead character is 'Amar') and there is a bunch of refreshing wordplay as Jitendra says "sub-inspector se sabziyan mangwate hai". The comic elements peppered within the emotional scenes makes for a light viewing.
Belanwali Bahu has too many stereotypes that are cringe-worthy. We cannot really laugh when Suzie is questioning Hindi words in her forced accent or when women are pushed into the typical role of nagging mothers, scorned wives and cornered bahus. Another problematic element is the tried and true jokes that keep repeating themselves in every episode. It simmers down the freshness the show is trying to offer. Also, the character of Roopa is rather sad (for the lack of a better word) as she goes around apologising for every little mistake she makes. She is barely given agency as she dabbles on the role she is forced into.
Belanwali Bahu does make space for itself as a different comedy in terms of concept and presentation but it does so by leaning on standard, tried and tested formulas of TV soaps. While we cannot complain about the domestic setting that brings along the typical household drama, we certainly can point out familiar dialogues, scenes that make it look like every other show from the genre. We aren't huge fans of the title track or the overplayed parts by the supporting cast, but we can commend the performances of Krystle Dsouza
and Dheeraj Sarna
, the latter especially does a marvelous job and stays in character.
The mix of humour and satire is amazingly woven in this show. However, the subject has a limitation and we wonder if the makers can keep up and keep adding to the linear plot line.
Ratings: ***/5 (3/5)