Indian TV dramas have gone a long way since the saas-bahu theme ruled the roost. Now many of the soaps have started flaunting social awareness themes. But the kitchen politics and glitz and glitter of the earlier dramas have not been banished fully. Now many of the popular drams highlight love between young wives and husbands brought together by arranged marriage. The joint family complexities bring the young couple face to face with dilemmas and conflicts of life which they sort out in their ingenious ways. Many popular dramas like Diya Aur Baati Hum, Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai, Pyar Ka Dard Hai Metha Meetha Pyara Pyara and Pavitra Rishta deal on themes of young love inside marriage. There are some which emphasis strong social themes like problems of child marriage (Balika Vadhu). Sitcoms such as Tarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashma bring out the middle class sentiments and mannerisms. Mythological dramas have always been super hits with Indian TV audience. After the early successes of great epics Ramayana and Mahabharata, now it is the turn of Lord Mahadeva to regale the audience with his colourful story. This has been one of the most engrossing seasons of great drama on Indian small screen.
(1) Diya Aur Baati Hum – Star Plus (Monday to Friday, 9.00 pm)
A sentimental family drama showing the story of an ambitious girl fighting against the mundane complexities of a middle class joint family to keep her dream of becoming a top police officer alive. Deepika comes from a middle class family where her father is a upright and honest government employee. He has inculcated in her the good moral value and the courage to stand up against social evils. She cherishes the dream to become a top police officer. Circumstances bring her to be married to Sooraj, a self-made young man with strong family values. The serial follows the struggles and conflicts in the life of Deepika caught in the whirlpool of middle class joint family complexities. The serial runs in prime time all days a week and the popularity is sky high.
(2) Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai – Star Plus
The complexities for a young couple trying to balance their love for each other against the demands of middle class family sentiments and traditions form the backdrop of this drama. The story tries to establish love as a sacred and powerful force which is possible even in the complex setting of traditional joint family system. The value of Indian arranged marriage system is accentuated through the story of shy Marwari girl Akshara's betrothal with Naitik, which develops into a sacred tie where the young couple discover the true meaning of love. Star Plus telecasts the drama at 9.30 PM on all week days.
(3) Pyar Ka Dard Hai Metha Meetha Pyara Pyara– Star Plus
Another Star Plus hit, the story revolves around the fortunes and relationship between mercurial Aditya and spirited Pankhuri who agree on very little. The heroine is romantic and believes in the true power of love. The boy is bitter about love and family life having experienced the breaking up of his parents. Circumstances bring them together romantically and the drama that ensues brings about a synthesis of their ideas. Telecast timing Mon-Fri 10 PM
(4) Tarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashma – Sab TV
The popular sitcom features the interesting aspects of the community members living in an apartment complex, how they get into problems and try to get out of them in their ingenious ways. The funny accents, gestures and stupidity get together to tickle your funny bones. Hilarious moments in the city building society bring to the fore, the middle class attitudes and sentiments. The society may go to any extent to add some pep into the lives of the inhabitants. Even it could arrange re-marriage for lead comedians Jethalal and Daya Bhabhi with much pomp and fanfare.
(5) Kaun Banega Crorepati – Sony TV
A popular quiz show based on the US and British TV game show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” In India it is hosted by mega movie star Amitabh Bachchan since the season of year 2000. Now the show offers huge jackpot prizes, because of which the present seventh season is being referred to as “Kaun Banega Maha Crorepati”. This show has been very popular from the first season.
(6) Pavitra Rishta – Zee TV
Story of a comely girl, Ankita who shoulders the responsibility of her whole family. She works in Naren's company and Naren's mother wants to see her as her daughter-in-law. But Ankita is already been proposed by Shashank, whom she also loves. Other relations and their expectations force the plot to meander into a complex situation so common in Indian joint families. This drama airs on all weeknights.
(7) Balika Vadhu – Colors TV
Set in rural Rajasthan, Balika Vadhu follows the story of Anandi (Toral Rasputra) who was married to Jagdish when she was 8. Although not allowed by the law child marriage is still in vogue in some traditional societies in India. The TV drama has been tackling this sensitive social malady since it premiered in 2008. Deviating from the shrill melodramas this serial bears a strong social message has been instrumental in influencing the traditional and rural society to re-look into their age old traditions. Dadisa is a strong character who is caught between the tradition and her pragmatic point of view.
(8) Devon ke Dev ‘Mahadev’ – Life OK
The legends of Mahadev Shiva have great following among Hindu devotees. Many facets of the life of the destroyer god among the Hindu trinity are beautifully unfolded in this series which had its premiere in 2011. Mythological dramas have a strong grip on Indian audiences. Shiva is a very important god in Indian pantheon. His bohemian nature, strong love for Parvati and a golden heart endears him among his myriad of devotees. The drama capitalises on the popularity of Mahadev in a very ingenious way.
(9) Uttaran – Colors TV
Two childhood friends present diametrically opposite natures. While Ichchha, daughter of a maidservant with Tapasya’s parents’ home scores over the rich, selfish and arrogant Tapasya, the drams takes interesting twists and turns. Things come to a head when Ichchha wins over the fiancé of Tapsya. The series premiered in 2008. The drama shows that one's true personality rather than situation of birth upbringing determines her true standing in life. Ichchha's tender innocence and sense of sacrifice has made her admirable to the viewers over the years.
(10) Sapne Suhane Ladakpan Ke – Zee TV
The drama depicts the dreams, he fears, hopes and relationships of two teenager cousins differing greatly in their upbringing, but brought together by circumstances. The city bred and cosmopolitan Gunjan has to negotiate the small town atmosphere of Varanasi where she is sharing a room at her aunt’s home with her cousin, Rachna. The drama wades through the sentimental sides of the young motherless girl Gunjan. Telecast Monday through Friday in prime time.
The new breed of dramas offers a great promise for the TV viewers as new themes are experimented with innovative approach.