Dayaben’s crow-like voice blared out of the TV speakers, only to be replaced by the VERY enthusiastic voices of the residents of the “Gokuldham Society” while my sister adopted a position so slack and sluggish, marking the couch as her territory for the rest of the summer afternoon. How delicate and innocent she looked, her eyes fixed to the TV screen, her teeth demolishing a packet of chips, the crumbs gently falling on her jet black hair, the silence broken only by the sound of her teeth grinding the fried potatoes like a paper shredding machine. Daya Bhabhi began her routine of daily chores and I retreated to my bedroom. Alas! How oblivious I was to great evil absorbing the life out of her behind my back! It was too late now, for I returned after an hour, only to find her cackling at one of Kapil Sharma’s wisecracks. Why, oh why did I let her sink down so low?
(The above anecdote is a dramatized version of a true incident.)
While all the families in the nation gather around their televisions at 8:30 in the night, to watch their beloved show, “Taarak Mehta ka Oooltah Chashmah”, I choose to immerse my head as deep as it can go into a pillow, to block out the laughter emerging from all the apartments around me. It’s not like I do not enjoy the show, but there’s only so many times I can laugh at how fat Dr. Hathi is or what Daya Bhabhi hollered from her balcony when “Tapu ke papa” was leaving to reach his workplace. The show, which was once very dear to me, is now a subject which evokes an exclamation of annoyance from me. The jokes which made my stomach hurt at one point of time, now seem repetitive and silly. The enthusiasm, innocence and simplicity of the residents seems unrealistic and makes the characters look delusional and undeveloped. Apart from that, there are finer details which have come to my notice:
- The portrayal of the residents is stereotypical with the loud and somewhat aggressive Punjabi Roshan Sodhi, the fat Dr. Hathi , who relates every little detail to food (Sigh.) and the miserly Maharashtrian Bhide.
- The completely unrealistic portrayal of the children who resemble children from a 90’s Bollywood movie and whose idea of fun is playing cricket and plucking mangoes from a tree with a “Do not pluck” sign in front of it- totally unlike children from the 21st century who are satisfied sitting in bed and chatting with their friends all day.
- The relatively lavish lifestyle and beautiful society they live in (with low maintenance fees), even with an income equal to that of an average middle class “aadmi”.
While the show has many other minor flaws, repetitive jokes and unrealistic portrayal of neighbours, it is the nation’s favorite. It reassures us that even in this fast paced world where change is inevitable and often difficult to cope with , “Taarak Mehta ka Ooltah Chashmah” will remain unchanged. Daya Bhabhi will always cackle at any joke cracked by Jethalal, the men of the society will always meet for a soda at Abdul’s, Jethalal will never forget to wish “Babita ji” good morning and every festival be it Diwali, Ganesh Chaturthi or Janmashtami will always be celebrated with the same vigour. For a young teen like me, who has gone through quite a lot of changes in her life so far, not unlike any other teen, sitting down on a couch with my sister ( who is in safe hands, rest assured) in front of the TV and diving into the world of the
“Gokuldham vasi” is a reassurance that no matter what happens, one thing exists in my life which will always remain constant under all circumstances.