With new channels being launched every week, Indian audiences are spoilt for choice. While far away from the mammoth popularity of Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, Indian television viewers today have turned to a variety of formats, and there is clearly something for everyone. Here are the most popular and talked about soaps and television serials.
1)CID (Sony TV): ACP Pradyuman and his cohorts have been fighting crime for the last 14 years, and show no signs of slowing down. A crime procedural, CID has a charismatic leader, a dedicated team of youngsters doing the fieldwork and a forensic expert who crack often bizarre cases of crime. CID frequently airs special episodes, which sees stars of upcoming films team up with CID pros to bust criminals, and many episodes have been shot in London, Mauritius and Switzerland, among other foreign locals. While there are fans who are genuinely enamoured by the series, there exists an equally devoted fan base that revels in the series’ unintentional hilarious nature and camp appeal.
2)Baalika Vadhu (Colours): In 2008, Anandi debuted on Indian television, a child bride whose fate was sealed at a young age without her consent. However, as Anandi grows up, she decides to fight for her rights and through love, makes her feudal aristocratic family grow more perceptive to the social ills that go on in the name of tradition. The story is a traditional melodrama to the core, but this serial set off a trend of going back to the villages, which was then copied by a number of others. However, the clones soon disappeared, while the original has managed to retain its popularity despite a major cast reshuffle and a generation leap.
3) Pavitra Rishta: While ridden with familiar melodramatic elements, Pavitra Rishta came as a breath of fresh air, with the story centering around middle class families. Manav and Archana tie the knot, and despite humble beginnings, their fortunes flourish. There has been a separation, a plethora of misunderstandings and a generation leap~ but the sacred bond between the two protagonists refuses to die and the audience are as tuned into their travails as ever.
4)Sathiya Saath Nibhana (Star Plus): Another kitchen politics saga, it stars the ever-virtuous and simple-minded Gopi, who was raised by an tyrannical aunt. Married into a family with an equally dominating mother-in-law, Gopi has to win her husband’s love while trying to keep the family united against the onslaughts by scheming relatives and other forces. Despite following a similar story, this serial has distinguished itself because of its lead heroine, whose passive, virtuous nature seems to keep its fanbase intact.
5)Uttaran (Colours): This one is a tale of sibling rivalry and class war taken to extremes. Ichha and Tapasya are raised together, despite Iccha’s mother is a maid working for the family of Tapasya. While Tapasya is scheming and demanding, ichha is the epitome of virtue and sacrifice. Tapasya first forces Ichha on to her suitor as she has other romantic ambitions, but soon comes back to stake her claim. A lot has progressed since then, the next generation has come in, and other shows have managed wean away some of its followers, but Uttaran’s core audience remains intact.
6)Dance India Dance Little Masters (Zee TV): While other reality shows await renewal and see a steadily dwindling viewership with each successive season, talent show Dance India Dance remains as popular as ever. Helmed by superstar ‘Disco Dancer’ Mithun Chakraborty, the little performers show moves which would put professionals to shame. The competition is fierce, and no wonder, the show is extremely popular with aspiring children and their parents who want to see their kids turn into superstars.
7) Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai (Star Plus): This is a fairy tale. Girl next door Akshara knows that someday, she will tie the knot with a person her parents choose for her. But her prince charming finds her, and they are bound to each other for lives. But their happily ever after has to endure many onslaughts. From plots hatched by evil relatives to threats to their marriage, Akshara’s fans have lapped up whatever the producers have served.
8) Bade Achchhe Lagte Hai (Sony): The popular sweethearts from erstwhile K-soaps, Sakshi Tanwar and Ram Kapoor, return in this story of two strangers who agree to marry because their families grow concerned that they are passed the marrying age. Touted to be more mature, and having a more urbane vibe than the other serials, this soap also created a stir when its two leads engaged in India’s first small-screen kiss.
9) Diya Aur Baati Hum (Star Plus): This one is a modern wish-fulfilment vehicle. Sandhya comes from an orthodox background and dreams of becoming an IPS officer, but is married to neighbourhood shopkeeper Suraj. However, she continues to struggle to fulfill her dream, and unlike other soaps where the husband is to be won over after years of devotion, Suraj stands by her side and helps her break social constraints. Despite being less than a year old, this serial is already a favourite with many.
10) Tarak Mehta Ka Ulta Chasma (Sony SAB): In Gokuldham society, you can find all the Indian middle class stereotypes. Tarak Mehta is the titular character, a bespectacled paunchy man approaching middle age, and through his eyes (or rather, his glasses), the audience sees several social problems that need addressing. A complete family comedy, this serial offers simple, instant solutions to problems that affect the common man, and hence, is a big hit with men as well as women.