Tarak Mehta Ka Oolta Chashmah: what makes it such a hit?

Posted: June 25, 2011 in Uncategorized

Many years back, as a kid, I remember the Gujarati magazine, Chitralekha, coming home. And my parents enjoying the column, “Duniya na Undha Chashma’. The antics of Jetha and Tapuda and Bapuji were hilarious, and though I did not read much Gujarati, through Mom and Dad, I had got a good feel of it.

Years later, it was interesting to see the same stories converted into a Hindi television sitcom, in the form of Tarak Mehta Ka Oolta Chashmah. When it hit the air, I had my doubts. Whether a story set in the 70s could be adapted well, to current times. Whether today’s folks will find it to be of interest.

But as time has proven, this serial remains one of the most popular comedies on TV, and has been running successfully, for a few years now!

What is it’s magic? Why does it work so well?

Interestingly, at a time when saas-bahus, and Sheilas and Munnis dominate the entertainment space, this sitcom is as far away from those, as chalk is to cheese.

So does it provide the right balance of the Sheilas and the Munnis? Perhaps so.

But other then that, this story of a society in suburban Mumbai, filled with middle class families, has many elements that work well.

There are stereotypical community families. The traditional Maharashtrians, the Sikh and Parsi couple, South Indian-Bangali couple, and of course, the Gujjus!! Folks see a little of their own selves as such.

All of the characters have been developed well, and all get their space under the sun. It is not about just the protagonists. In fact, the entire cast is central to the story and the episodes.

The episodes pack a decent dose of innocent humour, generate sympathy for Jethabhai, laughter at the stupidity and audacity of Daya, and the antics of the kids and the voice of wisdom from Bapuji.

They celebrate, they have fights – which get sorted out soon, there are elements of love, there is the occasional tension.. pretty much a story of “all in a day’s life”.

Looks simple and innocent. On paper, it would not necessarily be predictable to be such a success. But all of these small elements have got together, to make a potent package. And day after day, there is an interesting episode that they manage to put together.

And in these days of slapstick humor, the episodes also put in a small message of wisdom. Which the character of Tarak Mehta himself conveys at the end of each episode.

Really interesting formula for success. I am happy to see such a combination work, in these days and times.

Cheers to Tarak Mehta Ka Oolta Chashmah.. may there be more of these kinds on Indian television..

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