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Friday, December 8, 2023

Kasautii Zindagii Kay: Ekta Kapoor Fuses Traditional & Western Cultures

Kasautii Zindagii Kay (KZK). This name has been doing its rounds in the Indian television industry and rightly so.

After a hiatus of 10 years, Ekta Kapoor’s classic series has been rebooted. Anurag and Prerna return, under a different time period, but similar circumstances.

The first episode kicked off last night and it was one of the most splendorous and dramatic openings EVER for a Balaji Telefilms series.

The Basu and Sharma families

Unlike usual Ekta Kapoor serials, where each character is introduced gradually.

Here, the main members of the Sharma and Basu families are individually introduced.

Which saves a lot of time and gets straight into focusing on the love story of Anurag and Prerna.

Like the traditional story of KZK. There is a financial difference between both families: Prerna’s is middle-class, whilst Anurag’s is more affluent.

Anurag’s mother – Mohini Basu (Shubhavi Chouksey), really speaking is the boss of the clan. Similar to the original character.

She is protective of the family’s reputation and prestige. Though she is not the ‘vamp’ of the series, there are dark shades to her character. 

Well, she was the reason why Anurag and Prerna separated in the first place during the original series.

Prerna’s mother Veena Sharma (Kanupriya Pandit) is also protective of Prerna as she knows how innocent her daughter is. 

Unlike everyone else in the Sharma family, she does not view the Basu family with rose-tinted glasses.

However, the fathers are friends. The memorable characters are Moloy Basu (Uday Tikekar) and Rajesh Sharma (Kali Prasad Mukherjee).

Other recurring characters we are briefly introduced to is the money-minded and the excluded sister of Anurag – Nivedita Basu (Pooja Banerjee).

Nivedita’s husband is Anupam Sengupta (Sahil Anand) who is clearly wrapped around her finger.

Anurag and Prerna

Playing the iconic roles of Anurag and Prerna are of course Parth Samthaan and Erica Fernandes, respectively.

I love the fact that in a modern era, Anurag is presented in an archetypical, well-groomed Indian boy  – almost on similar lines of the Saraswatichandra character. 

Parth Samthaan has that naivety and dashing looks. This is everything one looks out for in a character like Anurag.

Erica Fernandes is a delight to watch. She is so subtle and has that same innocence yet strength that the role of Prerna requires – almost what Shweta Tiwari had in the original series. 

Even when the two actors are together on-screen, without saying much, their love is conveyed. 

Undoubtedly, there is a strong chemistry between them and that strongly translates on-screen. 

But as they said in yesterday’s episode, a storm is definitely coming.

Balaji’s ‘Bhansali’ Effect

The entire set-up of the series and yesterday’s episode, in particular, was extravagant.

In the first KZK series, there was a lot of colour and a huge focus on Durga Pooja and the Bengali culture. 

This seems to be magnified more in the reboot and we love it. From the slow-motion red dupatta to the Aarti, there seems to be a Sanjay Leela Bhansali magic in the series.

Even the ‘Pandal’ for the Durga Pooja looks something out of an SLB film. It is grand, splendorous and it is not shying away from this fact.

It appears that a lot of money/time has been put into creating the overall look of the series and credits are due.

From watching yesterday’s episode, there was a real Devdas feel – especially through the heavy costumes and spellbinding jewellery. 

It took me back to the good old days of Indian television when every lady would watch Indian serials just to be inspired by the outfits!

Moreover, the intriguing background scored adds to this Bhansali effect.

Especially when Anurag and Prerna did the Aarti together, the music sounded like to ‘Laal Ishq’ from Ram Leela. 

Regardless, the entire set-up is well done.

Traditional Vs Western Fusion

Ekta Kapoor has always pushed the envelope through her films – especially regarding sexuality.

She also produced a series on a homosexual version of Romeo and Juliet on the streaming app ALTBalaji.

Now, on a mainstream level, we hear a little bit about homosexuality in KZK – albeit in a comical, though non-prejudiced way.

We saw Anurag and Prerna as the traditional ‘Indian’ son and daughter in today’s modern era.

Plus, we also see them as devoted individuals who are very much in touch with their culture and religion.

An interesting situation arises when Prerna asks Anurag whether he likes boys to which he jokingly replies yes.

Prerna’s positive reaction towards this is a sign of progression.

A subject like homosexuality would never have been accepted properly in the old KZK days, I mean Prerna getting pregnant out of pre-wedlock was taboo and a frowned upon thing.

Furthermore, even though that homosexuality is used as a means of comic relief, it is not condescending.

Usually, in Indian films and serials alike, a gay ‘joke’ would often make the male protagonist feel uncomfortable and can easily be passed to be homophobic.

The fact that the first episode did not adhere to any such stereotypes proves that Indian serials – especially this one – is becoming more accepting of homosexuality.

Plus, given that section 377 has been scrapped, maybe we could even see a gay love-story track in that series… You never know. 

How progressive is KZK?

Whilst there is a neat and wonderful fusion of traditional and western cultures, one must also question how progressive this series is.

In today’s episode, we see a fire breaking out in the Pandal and Anurag comes to rescue Prerna and her friend.

This is quite reminiscent of the stereotypical Indian serials and films where the female protagonist would be a damsel-in-distress.

But given that time has progressed and so many changes are happening, such sequences seem quite passe.

Ekta’s series Dil Hi Toh Hai showcased a sequence where Palak (Yogita Bihani) bashed up a bunch of goons that tried to harass her.

I think its about time that we see female protagonists in Indian serials fighting on their own accord without a male protagonist.

Plus, with the way KZK has been set-up, the series has full potential to break stereotypes on a prime and mainstream platform.

Let’s see what happens in the following episodes!

Anuj Radia
Journalist and film enthusiast.

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  1. Nicely reviewed Anuj. This is my first GEC serial and I am watching this because I watched Parth Samthaan in Kaisi Ye yaariaan, where he slayed as a conflicted, aggressive yet vulnerable teen. Clearly the actor is one of the best in business. And deserves to be seen more. Keep the reviews coming.A lot of the young viewers are those who grew up with KYY &MTV and today are the Netflix crowd and will value any educated critical review.


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