True Review TV – TV’S BAWA GANGby Piroj Wadia August 15 2015, 2:24 pm Estimated Reading Time: 3 mins, 4 secs
Mahatma Gandhi is purported to have once said, "In numbers Parsis are beneath contempt, but in contribution, beyond compare." I am quoting Gandhiji on the Parsis only because despite not just their contribution and presence in cinema and television, there is a lacuna on content which revolves around them. There is no better time than now to highlight it as on Tuesday August 18, the Parsis celebrate their Navroze (New Year). The history of Indian cinema has its pages filled with contributions of Ardeshir Irani, Kolkata?s Madan family, the Wadia Brothers, Sohrab Modi and others. The growth of Indian Television too has been nurtured by Ronnie Screwvala and Zarina Mehta with their production house UTV. There are a number of Parsis who are Television?s backroom boys and, a small but visible group of professionals who are seen almost daily on Prime Time. Tanaz Irani and Delnaz Irani are two actors who have charted their careers over the last two decades alongside the growth of satellite channels. Both have stayed consistent to their medium, straying occasionally to the big screen, but returning to the small one like homing pigeons. Jhalak Reloaded?s darling Shanaya Irani is also part of the Bawa Gang. Rushad Rana and Bakhtiyar Irani may not enjoy the status of the three women, though Rushad has foothold on Prime Time with shows like Bade Achhe Lagte Hain and Kehta Hai Dil Jee Le Zara. Bakhtiyar is playing Ronnie to Tanaz?s Lisa in Bade Door Se Aaye Hai. Credit is due to the Bawa Gang that they have attempted characters others than their ethnic group and been successful at that, e.g. Tanaz as Lisa. Time and again Tanaz and Delnaz have displayed their flawless comic timing. Though Indian cinema has a handful of films around the Parsis ? Pestonji, Percy, Being Cyrus and Little Zizou. The directors of the latter three valiantly cast Parsi actors in starring roles. However, when it comes to Television, content which revolves round this community is missing. Sure we have a Parsi woman Roshan (played by a Parsi actress) married to a Sardar Roshan Singh Sodhi in good old Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashma. In an old episode, they brought in the Parsi flavour where the Sodhis were celebrating Navroze with the wife?s family. I have an axe to grind with the makers of TMKOC. They celebrate every festival barring Navroze. The only time television did attempt content around a Parsi family was when Sony telecast JD Majethia?s Batliwala House No. 43. This story revolved around a Parsi family. A sitcom?cum ?chat show, it was an adaptation of the British sitcom ?The Kumars at 42nd . Starring Mahabanoo Mody Kotwal and Delnaz Irani; it was Bakhtiyar Irani?s TV debut, he played the son who is aspiring to be a film star. He was the main anchor of the chat show whereas his family was constant interruptions. (Kapil?s Comedy Nights?) Though it was a fresh look at comedy and the Parsi characters were a first on TV, the show didn?t quite catch on. It didn?t wash down with the community itself. The costumes were acceptable alright, but in today?s day and age if one were to visit a Parsi home the grandmothers too are in kaftans or ?gowns? as a rule. They do dress up but not the way the women were dressed up in their finery and head scarf. Soon it was replaced by a Gujarati family and was renamed as Kudkudiya House No. 43. There is still the lacuna, just waiting to be filled up. Current events in the community, could give soap opera writers a run for ideas. Any takers?