Wednesday, August 01, 2007
There is no doubt about the fact that Balaji Telefilms is the most envied and successful soap churning factories in our country. Even though there are many pretenders to the throne, absolutely no one has been successful in dethroning them. On the contrary, the wannabes have accepted their style of functioning as nothing less than a ‘genre’. We wanted to make things somewhat simple for the countless aspirants and decided to put together a common recipe using some very clichéd and trusted formulas that go into the making of a Balaji style soap.
1.The K-Title: This is the first and the foremost requirement needed to make a successful Balaji soap. Never mind if your title runs into several hundred letters or sounds very weird, but it has to start with a K, a letter believed to be extremely lucky in the entertainment world here. It’s also important to register the title before anyone else ( read Ekta Kapoor, Karan Johar, Rakesh Roshan etc) takes over your lucky name.
2.Docile Bahu: Once the title is finalized, pick up a bechari looking, suppressed and homely middle class girl from the market. Never mind if she is dumb and can’t act, because she doesn’t need to. All she needs to do is, shed gallons of tears in every second scene. After all, she has to play a good docile woman who takes all the possible injustices in the world lying low. She will be hardly into revenge as she believes in the concept of forgive and forget.
3.Spineless Son: Once you have a heroine in place, you also need to get a male counterpart who would be ready to suspect her all the time and will believe everyone in the world except her. However he would never take centerstage and would play the perfect second fiddle to your good old ideal heroine. He would be involved in making her life miserable and causing her unhappiness by an untimely death or an extra marital affair. Being good looking, fair and handsome is not a criterion. In fact, even if he is middle-aged with salt-n-pepper hair a la Ram Kapoor and Ronit Roy, with a track record of flop films, it would not lessen his appeal.
4.The Vicious Vamp: If there is a hero and a heroine, a vamp is a must. Otherwise how would the scheming, plotting and planning (the staple diet of soaps) be complete! One, who is ready to put cakes of loud makeup on her face, colored lenses, artificial eyelashes, stylized bindis, dark kohl and eyeliner, weird hairdos, dark red lipstick etc would be the perfect choice. She doesn’t even need to act, but a unique style of dialogue delivery and a mind sharper-than-Einstein (otherwise, how would she come up with fool-proof plans) is a must. For all that, writers are of great help as they are the ones who would give her the best of the bitchy dialogues.
5.Weirdo Villain: Next in the list of essential ingredients for a daily soap is a very strange looking and weird male villain who would be the right hand to your always-scheming vamp. He would be sporting the strangest haircuts and worst dressing styles which make him look more like a cartoon character than a human being. He would always be free (after all, he has no other work) to carry out any of the evil plans of the vamps.
6.Sick Minded Writer: Once your key players are in place, you also need someone to give them their activities in order. That’s where your script writer comes into action. He would be some one, who would have the best mind to think of almost impossible (mostly unrealistic) twists and turns in your story. He would also double up as God(almost)here, killing the characters and bringing them back from the grave whenever he gets stuck with the story. A writer need not be a very learned person; he can even be a layman with the most imaginative mind.
7.Remarriages, love triangles and illegitimate children: These are the most important aspects of a serial making, without which, the show would never be complete. Love triangles and squares with 3 to 4 persons pursuing a single lead actor is common. Polygamy can be safely practiced, which gives all the required masala (never mind the law of the land). Re marriages can happen in the family too, like a woman divorcing her husband and later remarrying his younger brother and staying in the same house etc. Your heroine can keep getting married and separating from her number of love interests,umpteenth number of times. And if there are remarriages, can illegitimate children be far behind? Such children can remain scattered across the globe for years. But, at a crucial juncture, they can make a comeback into their protagonist parents’ lives and turn them into hell. Sometimes these children’s sole purpose in life is to destroy the parents who never took care of them and they leave no stone unturned to accomplish this mission of theirs!
8.Plastic surgery: This is one formula which seems to hit a chord every time. The person presumed dead can undergo a plastic surgery (when there is requirement of changing the actor due to date issues or fights, tantrums etc) and come back with a totally different persona! And surprisingly the audiences have mostly welcomed him/ her with open arms. That’s why the favorite plastic surgery formula simply rocks!!
9.Formula Director: Having completed your planning, next you need is – someone to execute the so-called drama for you. He is not really the captain of the ship here. He is just a technician who knows how to yell ‘action’ and ‘cut’ and how to take the same shot 3-4 times from different angles for effect. He doesn’t even need to explain the actors how to act because actors have their own set of expressions (2 or 3, more than enough in this scenario) which they keep rotating as per requirement.
10.Noisy Music Director: Once your serial is written, shot and edited, you need to use some garnishing in order to make it more delicious. And your music director would be doing this for you. Television music directors don’t need to have great knowledge of music. He just needs to know where to put those ear-deafening bangs whenever some actor says some punchy lines.
And now the delicious dish –a Balaji Soap Opera is ready to be served hot and spicy!!