If I was Indian television, I would be weeping buckets about Sarabhai Vs Sarabhai coming back as a web series. The popular 2004 TV show wasn’t just hilarious, but also very fresh, thanks to its sarcasm and the dysfunctional yet lovable Sarabhai family. We all know how desperate TV audiences are today for some top notch comedy, saturation being their main reason for shifting to the more candid web series format.
As amusing as it was, the Sarabhai story was also way ahead of its time.
1. Indravadhan’s Male Ego Meets Maya the Feminist
Indravadan (Satish Shah) loves chilling at home with his feet up. The only thing he’s curious about is what’s cooking. His wife Maya (Ratna Pathak Shah) on the other hand is a socialite busy hi nobbing with her high society friends. She orders Indu around when she is home and sometimes his male ego rebels, only to be calmed down with her sarcasm.
In one of the show’s funniest scenes, she asks him to get her a glass of water. Indu gets angry and says, “main mard hoon!” Maya remains cool and says “pataa hai, par ab uska kuch nahin ho sakta. Yeh problem ab tumhein accept karni hi hogi”.
Their ‘happy’ marriage is full of fights, taunts and teasing, but Maya always has the upper hand.
2. Mumma’s Boy Sahil Marries the Girl She Hates
How can Maya Sarabhai’s son marry the niece of a taxi driver? She won’t have it. But her ‘perfect’ son Sahil (Sumeet Raghavan) put his foot down. Of course there was melodrama and hysteria in the Sarabhai household. But Sahil doesn’t budge. He might be the ideal son, who never says ‘no’ to his mother, but he stands up for what is right and refuses to marry the high-society princess Maya had picked out for him. All the scheming, jokes and comedy aside, Sahil knows that he can’t fool around with love and sets out to woo Monisha (Rupali Ganguly), the girl his mother rejects purely because she’s middle-class.
3. A Stellar Supporting Cast
Sarabhai Vs Sarabhai not only had brilliant actors playing the lead roles, but also stellar performances by supporting actors. Remember the gadget freak son-in-law Dushyant (Deven Bhojani), the seductive housemaid Sunehri (Mallika Sherawat), Dr Siddharth the hypnotist (Makrand Deshpande) and the deaf Madhusudan phupa (Arvind Vaidya). My personal favourite was Makrand Deshpande, who as Dr Siddharth, hypnotised Indravadan to behave like his not-so-favourite son Rosesh.
Point being, unlike most TV dramas and comedy shows today, Sarabhai Vs Sarabhai made sure that even its supporting actors were etched in our memory.
4. A Unique Saas-Bahu Relationship
Maya and Monica can barely live under the same roof and disagree on pretty much everything. Even though that’s as stereotypical as it gets, their relationship stands out. Maya leaves no opportunity to criticise Monisha. But Monisha is not intimidated by Mummy ji either. They don’t bicker, they crack bad jokes. They don’t bitch behind each others’ back, they are nasty upfront. And for a change, the men of the house don’t watch passively. They’re constantly trying to douse the fire.
Monisha is hardly the abla naari and Maya is far from being the mother-in-law atyachaari.
5. The Story of a Dysfunctional Family and Grey Characters
Kapoor & Sons was applauded for portraying messy characters and a dysfunctional family and rightly so. But there haven’t been too many shows or films that steer away from black and white as cleverly as this comedy does. Given the situation, the Sarabhai Vs Sarabhai characters were capable of bringing out their dark sides too. We might have overlooked the dysfunctionality of this family because it is deeply masked in comedy. But in my opinion, the Sarabhai clan were the first ones to nail the ‘I hate you like I love you’ emotion.
But to be honest, what made the show a hit was Rosesh’s epic poetry. His man-child simpleton character is so unique that nothing even remotely similar or ‘inspirational’ has hit Indian TV since. I’m curious to see where the show’s seven year leap will bring us in its revamped web-series avatar.