No laughing matter

A few days ago, I was wondering what the most watched serials on Indian television were. Thanks to a friend who’s part of the TV ratings biz, I give to you-the top ten episodes of 2005:

Channel         Date            Programme

Star Plus        1/3/2005      KYUNKI SAAS BHI KABHI BAHU THI               

Star Plus        1/18/2005    KAHAANI GHAR GHAR KI                   

Star Plus        2/7/2005      KASAUTII ZINDAGII KAY                  

Star Plus        1/25/2005    KKAVYANJALI                            

Star Plus        2/3/2005      SAARA AKAASH                           

Star Plus        3/14/2005    KAHIIN TO HOGA                         

Star Plus        1/4/2005      KEHTA HAI DIL                          

Star Plus        8/5/2005      BAA BAHOO AUR BABY                     

Sony Ent.      3/5/2005      JASSI JAISSI KOI NAHIN                  

Star Plus        1/31/2005    DES MEIN NIKLA HOGA CHAND               

There is a peculiar thing about the sitcoms in the top ten. No, it’s not that the list is composed of mostly saas-bahu dramas nor that an overwhelming number of ‘K’ serials feature on it. Even the fact that one channel dominates the list is not entirely surprising. What is truly peculiar is that unlike the top sitcoms of the US, none of our top ten is a comedy!

What could possibly be the reasons for that? Is the Indian viewer so morose that he cannot appreciate good comedy? Could it be the over the top slapstick or the cliched anti-climaxes (where the episode ends with the characters shouting something in unison, a la ‘Hum Paanch’ or even the popular ‘Dekh Bhai Dekh) in our ‘comedies’? Or is it because our language doesn’t have ‘humor facilitating devices’ like puns? Maybe it’s because they use screenplays that have clearly been written on the fly. Or, is the fact that they generally do not have continuity between episodes (Just Mohabbat did, and it was an exceptionally good show) to blame?

Maybe it is all of the above or maybe its just that we don’t believe in the basic principles of having a good plot, intelligent dialogue and competent acting talent.  

The Americans take their comedies seriously and it shows in their product. It’s about time we did too. Until then, the only cause for laughter on our channels will be the ‘dolled up’ super-vamps and the dutiful super-bahus.