Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Seeta Aur Geeta - world exclusive review of the serial on NDTV Imagine

World exclusive review of Seeta Aur Geeta by Devansh Patel

My first ever television review in my exhaustive career as a Bollywood columnist. How about that?But it's the challenge I take up more than the comments of what people may come up with – What the hell is Devansh Patel up to? Well, if Anjori Alagh can venture out into television, why can't I as a writer huh? Anyway, let me start...

It's good to know that the fame and popularity of Seeta and Geeta played by Hema Malini endure, when most of the comic acts of their time (and, indeed, later) are now forgotten. Seeta aur Geeta as a film was the perfect double act, master of technique, but with a quite extraordinary rapport and a quality of innocent good humour that lifted the Ramesh Sippy directed film to the level of the comedy immortals. Today's comedy double acts are very different beasts, with no trace of the music hall or silent film tradition behind them and certainly no innocence. The nearest thing we now have to innocent comedy that is also funny is, I suppose, Rakhi Sawant - no double act she, but very much a one-off with her on-your-face talks and muffat style (quoted by Anjori Alagh). Meanwhile, as further proof of the immortality of Seeta aur Geeta, just look at the frequent use in recent newspaper headlines. It's the phrase 'Another fine mess' which I've conceived as it aptly fits the bill. Oh yes, some very fine messes they've got us into lately...Who? What? Well, to cut the long story short, here's the Who and the What:

Abhinav Kashyap and the Bohra Brothers along with NDTV Imagine launched yesterday their first ever television series titled Seeta aur Geeta based on the yesteryear classic film with the same name. If it was the effervescent Hema Malini who played the lead in the film, here we have the Bollywood actress, the infectious Anjori Alagh. Infectious because she's got a smile one can get infected with. Anyway, so here was this entire cast and crew present for the launch at Andheri's Country Club waiting for the grand unveiling of the 260 episode Seeta aur Geeta. The twenty minute serial with ten minute commercials being blasted out to fool the public as if they're watching a thirty minute one couldn't stop the 'fine mess' from going into bits and pieces of laughter, a grin here and there and some yawning moments.

The serial kick starts with a sequence where the evil aunt, Seeta's Chachi (Sushmita Mukherjee) tries and acts all goody-goody and sweet talks with the lawyer of the family (played by the Gujarati actor Naresh Kanodia) when he pays a visit to their rich big bungalow. Seeta has lot her parents and is now being forced to live a life of a slave in her own house, courtesy her Chachi, who is awaiting Seeta's twenty first birthday. Because that's the day and time the bitchy Chachi can get her hands over the entire wealth of Seeta in a will made by her parents. Back to the scenes, once the lawyer is out of the frame, Chachi tight slaps Seeta and pushed her into the pool. Come serials first flaw when you can't decide whether to feel sorry for Seeta or burst out laughing at her. And that's exactly when a nice piece of advice coming from the director of the serial Maqbool Khan comes in handy. “Seeta aur Geeta may look like a rip off but we are trying to make the setting of the film very filmy and very early eighties. Some of the scenes may look dumb but they are more deliberate than dumb.” As the scene and the serial progresses, we are witnessed to some of Seeta's emotional and quiet scenes with her grandmother and her kid brother. Yes, I did think there was something wrong with the setting but Maqbool's quote always brought a fresh perspective into my viewing. After the first commercial break comes the introduction of Geeta (Anjori Alagh). Seeta (Anjori Alagh again) takes a back seat and here comes in a true Amitabh Bachchan style a woman who won't take a 'No' for an answer. She kicks and fights with the baddies and then mends the hearts of the needy. A true 'Robin Hood'. And guess what? A song breaks out after the fight introducing Geeta's dancing abilities. The junior artisits – Beware! Stand at an arms length for you never know getting a bad kick down the middle by Geeta.

Seeta aur Geeta is an out and out Anjori Alagh who needs to brush up on her emotional quotients in her first television offering. Cry out loud in front of the mirror Seeta coz you never know what Alagh you can come up with. Seeta was a sadist while Geeta the go-getter was a true delight. Sushmita Mukherjee with her weird faces makes you laugh out loud. Miss Kitty is a perfect fit in the bunch of so many misfits in Seeta aur Geeta. Misfits = all the junior artists with bored expressions all over their faces. They look forced in all the scenes with Geeta and that for me, is the biggest flaw for any kind of entertainment telecast. Maqbool Khan, you need good, smart, witty and professional junior artists to compliment Geeta's role as she is always seen in the basti domain. Do not let 'fake' take over the 'fate' in Seeta aur Geeta.

After it's first episode (and I write first episode because it's not a film that can be reviewed after watching it. As and when the serial advances further, it's true ripeness will take the viewers by a pleasant surprise) Seeta aur Geeta is as clever as it is silly, more warm-hearted than sentimental and just as irreverent as it is nostalgic.

The serial makes great physical use of its primary cast and breaks comic convention at several turns. But if you're going into the serial cold like in any film, you'll have the pleasure of being surprised by some perfectly set up moments and gags that hinge on Seeta's and Geeta's jittery alliance of straight woman/funny woman routines.
Rating – Applicable after the entire 260 episodes.

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