Behold the'Jassi' revolution!

Jassi Jaissi Koi Nahin! The title of Sony‘s life-saver has proved to be profitably prophetic. Jassi has done the seemingly impossible. It has weaned audiences away from the saas-bahu formula of couched entertainment, at least temporarily, to actually consider the opposite option: what if the protagonist didn‘t look like she had been dunked into gallons of warpaint? What if she‘s actually just the opposite of a glossy gharwali? What if she‘s a plain working woman?

Great premise, brilliantly handled by Tony and Deeya Singh whose deft vision bequeathed our home-viewing medium with at least two previous pathbreaking serials (Banegi Apni Baat and Just Mohabbat).

Jassi dares to walk the tightrope. While remaining steadfast in its traditional values (check out the sarcastic dressing-down from her doting grandma and parents that Jassi got when she headed home hiccuping after a night at the disco) it also succeeds in touching on taboo topics such as homosexuality.

The dress designer Maddy, played with flamboyant fluency by Rajesh Khera, is the first fully-formed gay character in an Indian soap. Some years ago on Zee‘s Tanaav Aly Khan had attempted to play a sexually conflicted character writhing uneasily in the closet. That soap never got a long rope.

So powerful is Jassi‘s impact that other soaps have begun to adopt some of its ‘plain Jane‘ methods of seduction. Last week on Star‘s Kyun Hota Hai Pyarr I was shocked to see a bespectacled whining and fussing avatar of Jassi, who loses the chance to woo a man by trying too hard to please him. "Can‘t you just be yourself?" the exasperated man walked away? The sobbing Ms Rejected (who jumped up and down on the bed with grief like an out-control sprinter) is then madeover by her friends and taken to a discotheque to confront love in a glossy new packaging.

Isn‘t that disturbingly similar to some of the happenings in Jassi Jaissi Koi Nahin? Shouldn‘t the channels stop crossing wires?


Multiple Marriages.This week Sony‘s Kya Haadsa Kya Haqeeqat featured Jassi‘s Mallika , Rakshanda Khan (who‘s a far better actress than some of the middling movie players) as a spirit who takes possession of another woman‘s husband.

"You can have him in the day. He‘s all mine in the night," meowed the seductive spook, and then proceeded to have... er, spirited sex (in a manner of speaking) with the other woman‘s husband.

Don‘t be alarmed. Multiple marriages have become an integral part of primetime entertainment. Kusum on Sony‘s Kkusum has recently gone through her third marriage. On Star‘s Kasautii Zindagii Kay Anurag has just had his third marriage with the girl who all along pretended to be interested in him to save his earlier marriage. So much for acts of betrayal.

There was a touching moment of marital majesty last week when we saw scenes of Anurag‘s marriage vows being juxtaposed with his ex-wife Prerna‘s angrily taking off all her jewellery. Such moments tend to get eclipsed by the chaotic cosmos that the soaps build within the joint family setup.


Copyright Violations.What I really like about Kasautii is its use of re-recorded versions of evergreen film songs like Hum bewafaa... (from Shalimar) and Ajeeb dastaan... (from Dil Apna Aur Preet Parayi).

The popularity of these songs has actually been renewed through the soap. On the flip side, most practitioners of the soap trade don‘t seem to know a thing about copright laws! was shocked recently to hear Lata Mangeshkar‘s Saanware (composed by R D Burman for film Baseraa) being used almost as a wall-to-wall carpet in the soundtrack of Zee‘s Kabhi Kabhie.


On the rebound. By the way, Kabhi Kabhie - the story about a woman "wedded" to Lord Krishna - has been done in a garish pseudo-mythological tone. The Nightingale‘s voice undoubtedly adds poised dimension to Jhulka‘s coy performance.

As for Jhulka, the poor soul needs television more than television needs her. Having played a belligerent Nana Patekar‘s wife recently in the film Aanch, soaps seem to beckon her with both arms.

Another talented large-screen fade-queen whose career has been transposed to television is Anooradha Patel who suddenly surfaced on Jassi as a fashion consultant.

Subhash Ghai‘s failed discovery Apoorva Agnihotri too has suddenly discovered portable stardom on television as Jassi‘s beloved ‘Armaan Sir‘.


Damp Squib. I wish we could look positively at Shekhar Suman‘s re-invention on television. Regrettably, the ‘rebirth‘ of his popular Movers & Shakers on Sab TV as Carry On Shekhar (don‘t miss the sly allusion to the raunchy British ‘Carry On?‘ series of films) is a bit of a damp squib.

Because of the host‘s abrasive manner, celebrity-guests (Adi Godrej appeared on the show with one of his locks which he said he wanted to put on his host‘s mouth) are staying away. Last week, Suman‘s celebrity-guest was MTV veejay Sophia whose job on her parent channel is to interview celebrities (The most recent being Arjun Rampal who was asked, "Are you a Mama‘s or a Papa‘s boy?") Oh boy!

Is she someone whom we‘d be interested in as a celebrity? Let‘s face it: the only celeb talkshow that‘s worth watching is Rendezvous With Simi Garewal. Last week a re-run of a post-Kaho Na? Pyar Hai episode featuring Hrithik Roshan with his parents seemed far fresher than some of fresh talkshows where the guests look like they could do with some serious stardom before holding forth.


Outstanding. Excellent change of mood from social relevance (sexual harassment at a work place) to thriller (flirtatious boss put in his place by harassed woman and her spunky mother-in-law) made this week‘s episodes of Sahara‘s Kagaar an exercise in weighty infotainment.
If only more serials would follow their own hearts rather than run after the elusive TRPs, thereby over-stuffing the plots with violent incidents.


Immortal ? There‘s no dearth of acting talent on the soaps. Achint Kaur who plays the vicious home-wrecker Geeta on Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi was admirably well-timed in her emotional responses on Thursday. She had to interact politely with her co-star and also express her silent exasperation about a missing envelope which could‘ve damned Tulsi.

"This Tulsi seems to have been born with immortality," the vamp hissed.

Yes, Tulsi will remain as long as the god of all small-screen smile on her.


Tailpiece: Will the news channels please cease to pass of filmy hearsay as "news"? Star News last week told us that Meghna Gulzar has signed Preity Zinta, and that Vashu Bhagnani is doing another film with American actress Brande Roderick (pronounced "Rodericks" by every newscaster).

Both false.

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