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The thing about romance is that it cuts across all barriers of language, culture, age and time. A well-written romance is as fresh today as it was years or ages ago, Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” being a case point. Regardless of what the sceptics may say, romance as a genre can never die- be it novels, movies or just songs. Interestingly a “love story” cannot have anything path breaking or ‘new’ is a limited sense of the word. At the end of the day, it is a boy meets girl cliché. If a particular piece does not click, what fails is the author, the director or the actor for their inability to put life or spark in the portrayal, not romance per se. Yes, times are changing. What with reality in the form of terrorism, gang wars, politics hitting us like never before, romance may not rule the roost anymore. But give us a good piece- a movie, a book or a TV show- and the audience/reader will lap it up.

I find no other explanation except for a romance well conceived and brilliantly executed when I think of the phenomenal success of Hindi show “Iss Pyaar Ko Kyaa Naam Doon”. Even talking about Hindi shows, forget watching them, for me has been infra dig. What with their stylised acting, blaring music (read noise), stereotypical characters, stories and most disconcertingly, the portrayal of the so-called “Indian culture”, I would not watch them even at the proverbial gunpoint. But IPKKND has me hooked and strangely, long after it has gone off air. Yes there still is stylised acting but thankfully only from the supporting cast. The music is at times jarring, and like Hindi shows, forced, but what sticks with you is the haunting “Rabba vey”. If the show works, and I believe it has worked and still does in a big way if the on-line craze is anything to go by, it’s predominantly due to the lead pair- ASR and Khushi, played by Barun Sobti and Sanaya Irani. Yes the vision of the writer, director and producer is there no doubt but what gives it life is the sparkling chemistry between the lead pair. Not that I’m any movie critic or expert, but I think plenty will second me when I say that it is a brilliant piece of acting, probably one of the best at least as far as the small screen of Hindi shows goes.

It is generally wise to disassociate the actor from the character he/she  portrays. However at times they become synonymous – Amitabh as Jai of “Sholay”, Shahrukh as Raj of “DDLJ” and here, Barun Sobti as ASR and Sanaya Irani as Khushi. I believe the show had to be taken off air rather abruptly with a forced ending as Barun Sobti was quitting the show and the audience was not willing to accept anyone in his place. Yeah we are a country given to histrionics but even so – rarely has anyone on the small screen generated this kind of mass hysteria.

Having been glued to You-tube since a week, I have managed to catch about 35 episodes of the show, watery eyes notwithstanding, reaching what is probably a milestone in the ASR- Khushi relationship with the latter giving ASR a good piece of her mind and quitting her job. To think of it, I doubt any of us would be able to even stand in real life, let alone like, what one sees of ASR in the initial 35 episodes. His arrogance may remind one of the iconic Darcy but his unwarranted meanness to Khushi is repulsive to say the least. It is to Barun Sobti’s credit that not only Khushi, even the audience eventually fall in love with him. Khushi obviously has to- the script demands so. But as the subtle nuances of ASR’s character are revealed, the audience too cannot help but love him. His guilt on realising the folly of his attitude towards Khushi may be short lived but makes him more human. His realisation that he is thinking more about Khushi than he would like to, is entirely in the Darcy vein and like Darcy, makes him meaner to Khushi.

As for Khushi, the character seems greatly inspired by that of Kajol in Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham, complete with “halwai ki dukan” background. Yet Sanaya Irani brings a freshness to it. It is rather heartening to see a heroine making and gorging on jalebis when angry. Her attempts to stand upto ASR are endearing as is her joie de vivre. Not the one to be down in the dumps for long, she springs back regardless of everything and everyone, and as she says herself, despite ASR. And it is despite themselves that two unlikely characters fall in love setting the screen on fire as they do so. How this happens, the twists and turns, I’m yet to unravel. Yes there will be bathetic plunges as there will be romantic heights that the two will touch and despite my arrogance at stooping to watch a Hindi show, I cannot wait to see what lies ahead.