A Bhabhiji who is supposed to be a laugh riot, a child widow, a feisty empress in the making, a timid girl trying to find her voice in a family of dons and a girl-next-door who aspires to be an independent working girl. And giving them company is Shah Rukh Khan. This is the newly launched entertainment channel &Tv.
The oddly christened &Tv, which comes from the house of Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited (ZEEL) has a very familiar feel to it. All the premium shows of the channel — Bhabhiji Ghar Par Hai, Gangaa, Razia Sultan, Begusarai, Bhagyalakshmi play it safe with the same kind of women-driven stories and the daily soap tropes that we’ve seen a hundred times before on all the other channels. Also the production values of the shows don’t really cut it.
The channel driver is undoubtedly the SRK show — India Poochega – Sabse Shaan Kaun. While the show has its moments, we feel that the Bollywood superstar is trying too hard to be a people pleaser.
Now let’s talk about the bahus. Shilpa Shinde as Angoori Bhabhi on Bhabhi Ji Ghar Par Hai with her pasty white make up is not a patch on the memorable Hansa Bhabhi. While little Ruhanna Khanna did catch our fancy as the spirited, tradition defying child widow in Gangaa and we are hopeful there will be sparks in Razia Sultan (Pankhuri Awasthi), the lead girls of Bhagyalakshmi (Simrin Parinja) and Begusarai (Shivangi Joshi) are flatlines waiting to be resuscitated with something more concrete, substantial and worth fighting for.
The attempt to do something new can only be seen in Begusarai, which is trying to be the watered down TV version of Gangs of Wasseypur (they had Tigmanshu Dhulia on board), but what is missing is that superlative edge, that ‘X’ factor that could truly define Indian
In its pre-release blitz, the channel promised to dish out fare that would be “contemporary and contextual, depicting the progressiveness of the viewers”, but what we are getting to see are stories stuck in history, in the bylanes of some obscure village, and a Bhojpuri dialect one has had enough of. Before it becomes another Sony Pal, &Tv really needs to shake the cobwebs of predictability and refresh its lineup with fresh stories and well-researched characters that do justice to a ‘New Age India’ in the true sense. Setting sail with SRK on board won’t really steer this ship.