TV Soap Operas

Update for week ended 22 January 2010

Most of the Indian TV soaps or serials, as they are called, start each day with a “recap” of the previous day. So they show you what a 25 minute episode showed in about 25 seconds or slightly more. So, a small question, why did they take 25 minutes in the first place, if they could manage with fewer seconds. The answer lies in marketing, sponsorship, channel preferences, etc; and of course, the now famous “startled mugshots” of all the characters in the serial (all means all – including the faithful servant with a red towel around the neck, and the devious aunt who makes a special appearance every 100 episodes) supported by jazzy special effects – like the flash in the pan flicker in slow motion, accompanied by the most annoying music clangs repeated for every much shot  – all of these of course multiplied at least three times!!! And because there are so many of these flashy moments in each episode, the viewers are presumably so startled by the end of it, that they need to keep track of the storyline when they catch the next episode, so the recaps do the trick. This routine is slightly different in the south of India – where the TV producers are more musical and love their dance routines. So each episode begins with the 9 ½ minute long theme song of the serial, which showcases not only the central character of the serial, but also her wardrobe as she slips in and out of at least 65 different saris (for naughty readers, the slipping out and in are not televised) with cameras whizzing from right to left, top to bottom, diagonal to diagonal, circle overhead shots, all accompanied to the thundering music that actually gets the viewers into a tizzy. And let us not forget that apart from the serial characters, there will be at least half a century of background dancers gyrating in the background, foreground, in temples, in courtyards, by the sea, in a house, practically everywhere. And after this there will be the _______? – No! Not the Recap, but a commercial break. The recap is scheduled after that! Indian TV viewing can be monotonous, yet so creative!!

The D Street Boyz are TV addicts – they watch business channels during the day and Soap Opera Channels in the evening and night. So it is not surprising that they started today using one of the Indian TV Serial tactic of a Recap. So they re-enacted yesterday’s SENSEX drop down of 400 odd points this morning. This actually took slightly longer than in most TV serials, north Indian, west Indian, east Indian or south Indian – one hour or slightly under that. Then they started their work for the day – digesting news updates about various corporate performances, the economic climate in Asia, Europe, some African American venting his spleen against the American Banking system, and other such serious business. Sometimes it cheered, so they pushed the SENSEX up, while sometimes depressed, so did the opposite. The only issue was that the D Boyz could not decide whether they should sound grave or rise from it. This flip and flop continued for the rest of the day until someone rang the closing bell – they were caught 191 points down and the SENSEX was at 16859. The week when they enjoyed the Mumbai Marathon, browsed through a furniture store, saluted the brave girl child (or children) and then became little kids sliding down a garden slide ended when they decided to do a TV Soap skit in office. 700 points down this week, takes it to the lowpoint of the year thus far. But as they say, life has its ups and downs and what are a few points up and another few down?

Apart from the surreal twists and turns of Indian Soaps, there is another rule that comes in handy to resurrect many “dying” serials (pun intended). That of killing the protagonist or her spouse or lover; and after the viewers have cried their tear-ducts dry and filled every bucket in the house, the Serial makers will add a twist to the story and arrange the re-entry of the same actor/character to get back the eyeballs!

So for those who are sad at the downturn in the SENSEX, don’t forget that the D Boyz are big TV Soap Fans!

Have a nice weekend…. Cheers….


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