True Review



by Piroj Wadia March 13 2015, 2:44 pm Estimated Reading Time: 11 mins, 24 secs

When German friends first visited Bombay, they were blown away by the multiple ethnic groups on the streets. They had just visited the Rajabai Clock Tower and seen statues of the multiple communities of the city. ?So many different people in just one city!? Though in Maharashtra, Mumbai has taken its flavor from every community which resides in the city, some neighborhoods have simply attracted more of one community than the other. For instance, Kalbadevi and Bhuleshwar are Gujarati strongholds, Lalbaugh is the heartland of the Marathis, Matunga attracted the South Indians, Byculla and Bandraare synonymous with Christians ? a Sandra from Bandra and a Priscilla from Byculla, Dongri-Mohmadali Road is the Muslim quarter, while Sion is the Sikh settlement.

Albeit these areas may have a concentration of one specific community, but it is Mumbai?s creation ? the co-operative housing societies which mirror the city?s cosmopolitan fabric. Other than community-specific colonies like the Parsis? baugs or the Bhatia colonies, most of them are secular or as the Mumbaikar will say: Cosmopolitan.

Such a collection of flats and buildings have taken the place of a joint family support system for child care, during illness and to celebrate, with no regard to each other?s religion. Neighbors who are non-vegetarian are careful how they dispose off their kitchen waste without offending the sentiments of the vegetarian neighbors.? Marriages too are made within the society, as mostly the children grow up together, go to school and tuition's together, and share confidences and intimacy.

Television which has its heartbeat in the city reflects Mumbai?s cultural crossroads in its many shows. If people sitting in Bihar or Jharkhand know about Gujarati or Marathi culture, it is to a large extent because of these daily shows. These shows have broken barriers and brought people together. Audiences from other regions may watch them with interest. For nowhere, but in Mumbai, is India represented all at once in her many faces, food and customs.

Two shows currently on air which reflect this face of the Urbs Prima?s are:

Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashma, the top rated, longest running, over 1600 episodes, sitcom at prime time.

Badi Dooooor Se Aaye Hai, an alien misadventure, which has just completed 200 episodes.



?Set in a suburban Mumbai middle class housing society, Gokuldham Society in Powder Gully Goregaon (East), TMKOC is an authentic representation of the various ethnic groups who live in housing colonies across the city.The families range from the traditional families, to the nuclear units, inter-marrieds and a bachelor.

The protagonists are the Gadas, a Kutchi Gujarati Jain family ? Champaklal, his son Jethalal, daughter-in-law Daya and grandson Dipendra aka Tappu. The Gada family is representational of the Kutchi Gujarati Jain entrepreneurs who left their ancestral villages to do bijiness in Mumbai. Jethalal, wears quirky shirts and runs a successful electronic store in Andheri, Mumbai. Though he has studied only till class 10 and cannot speak English, he outwits his foe with his cunning, sharp moves.

Jethalal has a harmless crush on Babita, Krishnan Iyer's wife which irks Iyer and the latter seeks out ways to belittle Jethalal; but it?s Jethalal who always has the last laugh. Daya, a family oriented woman, with rudimentary schooling,is from Ahmdavad. She is always on the phone with her mother, who finds new and funny names for Jethalal and doles out homespun advice and remedies. Daya is passionate about her family ? she doles out their favorite meals to uplift a sagging spirit and breaks into a garba at the drop of a hat. Her table is laden with jalebi-fafdas, patras, undhiyu, etc.

Jethalal?s nemesis is his saala Sundar. There is no denying the undying affection the siblings share.? There is also no denying Jethalal?s angst over Sunder?s uninvited visits. Jethalal calls him his panaoti.Sunderlal?s arrival more than livens up Gokuldham Society and the episodes.

Jethalal and Daya?s son Tapu is intelligent, leads the society's children's brigade TapuSena.ChampaklalJayantilalGada is a Gandhian,? ?is very religious and a disciplinarian. He doesn?t spare Jethalal, when the latter disrespects Daya or when he does something he doesn't like.Gokuldham vasis respect him as their elder.

The eponymous Taarak Mehta is Jethalal?s fire brigade. A writer by profession and the show?s sutradhaar, he is Jethalal'sally. Despite his modern outlook, he doesn?t lose sight of traditional values. Heis Gokuldham?s voice of reason and conflict solver. For a Gujarati, his wife, Anjaliis surprisingly diet conscious. No theplas, undhiyu and basundi for her husband, instead its herbal teas, salads, fresh bitter-gourd juice and khichdi. She is part of Gokuldham?smahilamandal and is Daya?s ally.

AatmaramTukaramBhide, a tution teacher, his wife Madhavi, and their daughter Sonuare Gokuldham?s Marathi factor.Aatmaram is also the "ekmevasecretary"of the society. He shares a love-hate relationship with Jethalal and is forever complaining about Tapu. His efforts to enforce discipline among the society members go in vain. His wife Madhavi, who sells achaar and papad, often gets tired of her husband's behavior. Their daughter Sonu, an intelligent girl, is Tapu's best friend. Bhidefears that Sonu will marry Tapu. After the Gada household, the Bhide home is the other refueling stop for the hungry TapuSena.?

Gokuldham?s two intermarried couples include Krishnan SubrahmaniamIyer,a South Indian scientist from Chennai and his wife Babita,a Bengali from Kolkata. Jethalal?s innocent flirtation with Babitaji comes to naught because of her husband?s beady eyes.Iyer always looks for a reason to put Jethalaldown. Babita considers Jethalal and Daya as good friends and opposes her husband whenever he fights with Jethalal.

The Sodhis are a Punjabi husband and Parsi wife sharing the same name ? Roshan. Roshan Singh Sodhi, a garage owner, is gregarious, but can get aggressive with those who mess with him or any of his neighbors. He is always ready to party and the subsequent drinking binge. Roshan his wife is a pleasant person, who loves her husband and son. But she doesn't approve of her husband's drinking habit and has even locked him out of the house all night. Theirson Gogi, the youngest member of the TapuSena, is full of beans and often asks inane questions.

?The Bihari family consists ofDrHansrajHathi, who is obese and is fond of eating. His buzzwords are:sahibaathai. His wife Komal, also obese, has a hard time controllingher husband's and sonGoli?seating habits?but neither can stay away from samosas and laddoos. Besides food, Goli also loves to ruffle Bhide?s feathers with quips.

GokuldhamSociety?s most eligible bachelor PatrakarPopatlal Pandey(Popu) is a journalist and works for Toofan Express. ANorth Indian from Bhopal. All his efforts to marry are in vain. He thinks negatively about everything, and his buzz words are?cancel? and ?duniya hila doonga?. His umbrella is his trusted companion, just as he and his umbrella are never parted, so is his money.He has adopted the ladies of Gokuldham as his sisters. He often he drops in at breakfast time at the Gadas or at the Bhides.

While each evening, all the men in the society meet after dinner at Abdul?s? ?shop for a glass of masala soda and a round of banter and ribbing.So too every morning, the women meet at the vegetable cart. Excitedly, they decide about a shopping spree, especially a sale or even go out for a kitty lunch. The nok-jhok which is so part of a society is taken in their stride and soon they are swapping recipes.

Bhide and Jethalal or Popatlal or Sodhi or Iyer cross the occasional sword.Bhide?s barbs at Jethalal?s lack of education and money power incenses not just Jethalal, but others too,?? and Bhide?s ally against Jethalal is the wily, viciousIyer. But soon anger abates over glasses of soda.

The fervor with which each religious festival is celebrated in Gokuldham invokes values of secularism and religious tolerance. The society members celebrate Eidwith Abdul, the same way they do Divali and Ganesh Chaturthi. There surely must be a few Gokuldham Societies tucked away in some corners of Mumbai.

Though the makers of TMKOC have tackled alcohol and its impact; however, they have steered away from the issue of non-vegetarianism. There is never a mention of tandoori chicken etc. from the Sodhis ? but always lassi, parathas, dal makhani, etc.?

Over 1600 episodes old. TMKOC will remain the formula forsecular living.It wouldn?t be a bad idea for the makers to have a competition for a real life Gokuldham.?



Sunshine Colony, also in suburban Mumbai, is where a new family, The Ghotalas seek accommodation. Ironically, without knowing their true identity, the inmates of Sunshine Colony give them the third degree. A true reflection how a new tenant is made to feel ?welcome?.? Barely have they settled down and are getting their bearings, the neighborlyassault is launched, all curious to know where they are from, even subterfuge isn?t ruled out.Badi door se, is the stock answer.?

The Ghotalas is their earthly identity as in the galactic society they are known by their numerals. Vasant Ghotala leads his wife Varsha, Sharad his brother, and Vasant?s sons Hemant and Shishir to locate the eldest son known as 2015 who has been missing in intergalactic travels. Their spaceship crashes in a jungle, on landing, they are shocked to see our civilization and its form. They realize that if they move around in their alien form they will be taken captive for research and analysis, thus risking their existence. But since they have very strong clues of their lost son to be living on earth, they forcefully take on human forms.

After the crash, their son, -426 (Hemant) gets lost. They eventually find him in Sunshine Colony with the aid of their alien detector, which rings whenever anybody else of their galaxy is nearby. They see it as the best area to live. After the residents have finished going through them with the proverbial fine tooth comb, they get a row house in the colony. But at no point are they off the scanner ? inquisitive neighbors andsnooping kids follow their every move.Hostility is always a natural sentiment residents express towards the new neighbors.

The Ghotalas have a few tough acts to follow. Not only must they match up to their neighbors? expectations and demands; but also learn the ways of the earthlings. Stashing away their hi-tech equipment, they desist from using their super powers. But Hemant can?t resist his partial disappearing act and Varsha can elongate herself. The challenge is to take on the habits and lifestyle of the earthlings, including worshipping a stone!

Currently residing in Sunshine Colony are: Bhavna aunty, the ?Gujarati ?matriarch, may rule the colony with an iron hand, but when it comes to ?her laid back son Bhadresh (Baba) she?s like putty. His dysfunctional wife Bhairavi is a challenge to Bhavana?s patience and that of the neighbors, andher grandsons Mitesh and Pritesh; the latter is a snoopy brat with wild imaginings and convinced that the new neighbors are aliens!

Ronnie and Lisa D?souza and Ronnie?s sister Anna, are Christians. Ronnie loves his wife and is a passionate carpenter. While Lisa bakes cakes, etc. That she makes eggless cakes is pointedly mentioned so that the audience is made aware of cultural and culinary sensibilities. Ronnie and Liza?s Goan Hindi is a natural reflection of their community?s linguistic roots; but Ronnie also has a peculiar speech impediment, where he forgets words and asks for suggestions. Liza,Anna and Bhadresh are apt at playing the game. Anna is in love with Manav Ojha, the Marwari boy next door who is away at the front.

His parents Murlidharand LajwantiOjha are a regular well matched Marwari couple. Egoistic Murlidhar, considers himself the Shaan of Rajasthan, knocks at doors at opportune moments ? tea and meal times. Often, he is shown polishing off snacks laid out for others. Laajo, is the quiet, tolerant wife occasionally restraining him,? pining for her sonManav, and is fond of Anna.

Ronnie and Bhadresh constantly team up against uncle Ojha and play boyish pranks on him.? The battle of the state?s rages between? Bhavna Bhatt glorifying Gujarat and Murlidhar Ojha extolling the virtues of Hamoro Rajasthan; it occurs often enough to bring life at Sunshine Colony to a standstill.

When the Ghotalas discover that Ronnie and Lisa have a special child in a care facility and she doesn't have long to live. They sound off the neighbors, who are hurt that they weren?t told of Angel. They bring her home and unknown to everyone Hemant uses his super powers to heal Angel.

Midst the fun and frolic, there are insensitive moments when Lisa and Ronnie host a party for Angel, Ojha and Bhairavi bring up the question of non-vegetarian fare, which hurts Lisa, but is soon rectified.

Sunshine Colony despite its cultural representation is like one happy family ? all for one and one for all. For Ronnie, Aunty Bhawna is the mother he misses.Despite the bonding and camaraderie,?? BDSAH?? shows how difficult it is for new neighbors to fit into a group who are close knit and suspicious above all. It also shows that the newbies have to make all the allowances and adjustments. Yet when any one is in distress all hands and lips join in unanimous prayer and hands held out to help.

Television is a more accurate slice of life, than are films; TMKOC and BDSAH are strident examples. ?Though both shows have depicted ethnic groups with their idiosyncrasies and foibles, they have done so without offending anyone.


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The writers are solely responsible for any claims arising out of the contents of this article.