Those of you who follow the writings of The Man from Madras Musings will know that he has contempt, only contempt and nothing but contempt for the Tamil serials that are beamed on the various channels every evening. He has written about their terrible production quality, poor acting skills, awful story lines and obsession with tragedy. You may want to ask as to why MMM persists in watching them. MMM assures you that he does not, but there are times when, while pacing up and down some regions of his house, he cannot but help overhear a dialogue or two. And such is the slow pace and trite plot of most of these productions that you can pick up the story line at any time and any point in the narrative.
But amongst all of these, the very nadir is an offering that rejoices in the name of Divine Daughter. The dramatis personae includes a short-tempered hero, his estranged wife, his aged parents, her bewildered and grief stricken mother, a well-meaning uncle, a half-witted sister, an evil sister-in-law with a submissive husband, and a couple of hangers-on whose existence, like that of the serial, has no meaning or purpose.
Whenever time hangs heavy on this cast, which is often, the producer or director or screenplay writer, if there is one, has a character fall ill or suffer an injury. The afflicted person (and by that MMM does not mean the viewer) is then wheeled into the ICU of a hospital where he/she rests for a whole week, with all the other actors weeping and moaning and saying how sad it is all. MMM wonders as to what kind of a hospital it is where not one but a whole dozen people are allowed into the ICU where they can talk loudly, quarrel, swear and even come to blows.
It is the considered view of MMM that the actors draw lots to decide on whose turn it is to get admitted to hospital next. A fortnight ago it was the hero who drew the short straw. Now, being a specimen of physical fitness, it was not easy to get him to fall ill or suffer an accident and so they had someone knife him. He was then rushed to the hospital with the weapon inside him with, of course, the entire chorus following him headlong into the operation theatre. After a couple of episodes of wailing and lamenting in which activity the heroine’s mother, like Abou Ben Adam, led all the rest, the doctor pronounced that it was imperative that an operation be done on the hero for which, hold your breath, the family would have to cough up Rs. 12 lakh! MMM wonders what kind of a surgery it was, perhaps all the organs of the hero needed replacement.
This decree of the doctor was received in melodramatic style – old parents aghast, estranged wife weeping (though why she should weep after the way he treated her in episodes 203 to 243 beats MMM), her mother lamenting for the nth time as to why God had chosen her, like Mona Lisa, for all the world’s sorrows, the evil sister-in-law pursing her lips in joy while her husband simpers, and the half-witted girl making a half-witted pronouncement as is to be expected. Last seen, each member of the family spent a full episode trying in vain to muster the Rs. 12 lakh though as to why they cannot each contribute just one lakh to make up the amount is beyond MMM. All this while the hero is still in the ICU with the knife or whatever it is stuck in his abdomen, fifteen days after the stabbing. MMM recommends the grandmother’s remedy – feed him bananas and watch his stools. But that would mean the storywriter has to come up with some other plot, would it not? In the meanwhile, watch this space in 2019 for further updates.