Anupamaa, Arundhati, or Sreemoyee

What an odd choice to write a TV show review on, right? I think a fair number of you already know about the Hindi TV serial “Anupamaa” which airs on Star Plus. The popularity of the show has been increasing lately due to its gripping and interesting story line. In my house, my parents gave up on most of the Hindi TV serials a few years ago, when they refused to start making sense. Instead, my mom started watching Marathi TV serials.

I won’t claim that all of the shows on Star Pravah make sense. But one show in particular – “Aai Kuthe Kaay Karte” (AKKK), definitely piqued my interests. “Anupamaa” is the Hindi version of the show and “Sreemoyee”, is the original Bengali TV Show that these two TV serials are based on.

The first 100 or so episodes of the show are made to take you inside the mind and life of the classic Indian TV serial daughter-in-law. Arundhati is a mother of 2 sons in their 20’s and 1 teenage daughter. She is a “loyal” housewife and caters to the needs of her family, pretty much 24×7. I don’t like describing women using terms which are used to describe dogs, frequent flyers, or members of a cult, either, but the show does want you to know that she was loyal to her family, indeed. 100 episodes are usually the set up for such huge plots in Indian TV serials but they weren’t all that boring either. They tackle many problems like abusive and toxic relationships, suicidal tendencies, sexual harassment and intimidation. These episodes also reveal that Arundhati’s husband, Anirudh, is cheating on her behind her back since the past 8 years and none of the family members have a clue.

Anirudh is in love with a fellow employee from his workplace, Sanjana. Sanjana is a strong-headed, independent and also married woman. She isn’t in love with her husband either – mainly because he’s uneducated and unemployed. She divorces him and wants to marry Anirudh now. But Anirudh doesn’t want to tell his tight-knit, orthodox family about his extra marital affair.

The best part of the story begins once our Arundhati finds out about her husband’s affair. Her initial reaction to this is to faint and fall sick because her life came crashing down and she believes she will never amount to anything now. But you see, that’s a misdirect. Her helplessness, crying and hitting rock bottom over an unfaithful man was really annoying to watch, especially for a feminist like me. But that is what makes her journey upwards so sweet.

The show is guised as a typical 2010’s TV drama but carries the ideas and progress of 2021 within it. They have story lines to address things like how society looks at divorcees, how therapy can make your life so much better, how even the Indian Woman who’s dedicated her entire life to her family and husband can have an identity and skills of her own. The show teaches lessons to an audience that needs to learn those lessons.

Anirudh wasn’t ready to let go off his wife because she was reliable and the most comfortable option. He wasn’t ready for a life where he doesn’t have a variety of breakfast before him once he wakes up, where he doesn’t have all his clothes cleaned and ironed daily, where his bed isn’t made every night and most importantly, where his wife silently obeys everything he says and doesn’t take a step against his will. When Arundhati wanted to leave her cheating husband, her children and the rest of the family were quick to blame her for escalating things and tearing the family apart. All they wanted was for her to forget what her husband did and keep the family “together”. In spite of all these protests and the fear of not knowing what lies in her future, Arundhati chose herself. She chose to not only leave her husband and make a life for herself, but also to make sure that her husband fulfils the promise he made to another woman and marries Sanjana.

“Aai Kuthe Kaay Karte” is a show that doesn’t have to struggle much to get to you. The show is relatable for real. The makers show you a family like your own – all the silly quarrels among the siblings, the moments of peace when everyone sits together at night discussing life lessons, the unparalleled gossip sessions with your mom in the kitchen and the effect family disputes have on every member in the house. Some episodes are just long discussions between characters, that express their thoughts on what is happening in the family and how that will make them feel. No antagonist is doing bad things to the family for no reason at all. They take you into their minds and show you why they think it’s justified to behave like they do.

“Anupamaa” was a bit too dramatic and a little over the top for my taste, even if the show is conveying the same message. They have huge houses and characters who dress extra even on regular days. The background score is a lot more subtle in the Marathi counterpart than in the Hindi one. The antagonist does look villainous unlike in the Marathi equivalent. But I believe Star Plus makes some aspects of their show unrealistic because that’s what their audience likes. They probably like the idea of watching what could be rather than understanding what is.

I usually watch the repeat telecast of AKKK on Star Pravah after my college lectures end. But if you want to watch it from the beginning, Hotstar is where you’ll find it for free. And yes, an Indian TV serial is in fact, binge-worthy. If a Marathi TV serial could make my opinionated, English-speaking self sit through the ads daily and openly root for Arundhati in the face of any new conflict, I think it’d pretty good for everyone else too.