Now Brewing

a strange sort of love

around october 2011, over a year ago, i felt myself feeling some very old and a bit missed feelings: those of falling in love.

ha ha, it got me again and as always made me look foolish as ever. this time it was not a man, well that was there too, but it was a tv serial. yes. you read right. a hindi daily soap, in fact.

i watched every night, then replayed on youtube many times, thought about it all day, that not enough, i joined one of the largest online entertainment forums in india, india-forums, or if as it’s called by its 50,000 or more members; and i spent hours chatting, writing, bantering, “bashing,” meeting girls 18 to 50 something, from all over the world, pakistan, bangladesh, dubai, new zealand, the us, uk, india, singapore, malaysia, the middle east, you get the picture.

there was even a lovely student from singapore. chinese. angela, who didn’t speak a word of hindi, yet loved the show and followed it religiously, catching the live stream at 10.30 pm every night. reading her post on her affair with the serial, was one of my favourite “what the” moments. to find out the deep, almost religious, significance of “what the” you have to of course, suffer. you have to watch the serial.

what’s it called? why “iss pyaar ko kya naam doon?”; “what do i call this love?” in english. had to be, what. and now that i’m thinking, thanks to her favourite cartoon show my dear daughter used to say “what the” all the time when she was about seven.

definitely it was a sign.

here’s one of the last posts i wrote, 4 december 2012, on one of my most loved threads: honeypriya’s crooner. there every day we spoke of the episode telecast the evening before (8pm for trp audiences in india), loving, laughing, hating, hanging around, having a good time over something that meant much to us. a happy lot of girls who thought it wasn’t strange at all to be talking about a serial and openly admitting our fascination with it.

i had fun. the following is rather long, read if you feel like it. part of my inner world, ipk, as we call it, it had a place in my blog i felt.

—————————————-

i have never met romeo or juliet. nor laila and majnu, snow white and her prince, or heer ranjha.

but i have met asr and khushi.

and they fill me with their feelings. feelings that don’t melt away because someone seven seas and 13 rivers on the other side of life has waved a wand and said, “last episode.”

it murmurs in me, clings to the surfaces of my thoughts, intrudes in my dreams, thoughts of a man with storm in his eyes and a girl whose smile was made to calm that tumult.

the other day i felt like making a big commitment. i was ready to give of myself, do something away and a bit scary, take a risk. jump. for this i thank two spectacular actors and the incredibly talented writers who gave them the most enchanting flight instructions ever, disguised as script and dialogue.

“woh kya hai ki aaj skool mien drama kumpetition hai na, iss liye hum ghar se taiyyar hoke jaa rahe hain… rajkumari ki tarah..”
“phir aap ke raaj kumar kahaan hai?”

a whirring sound approached and along with her i looked up. it mattered little i’d not seen this the first time it was telecast, for i’d arrived late to ipk. it was mid october last year when my eyes finally couldn’t look away. that television had this to offer who would have thought.

his eyes were inert. her voice was fearless. someone had decided to tell a story like no one had ever before. in the first episode itself, in a span of only 25 minutes a taut screenplay said so much, hinting at deep ravines and lost places where the tale would lead us. the promise of treasure embedded.

a girl on a scooter in finery and sneakers and a funny sort of determination not brought on by wealth; a young man who descended from a helicopter and looked at memory with the stillest face, as he took off his shades you knew this was style money couldn’t buy. the show had started in the way of many serials, right in the middle of a wedding and its usual dowry laced tensions, then suddenly a helicopter lands, we’re in the middle of a field abutting an old haveli, sheesh mahal, the house of glass, and a voice shatters time: ma. flutter of wings, unmoving eyes, unflinching grasp of a moment, a deal is done. she’s reached her destination, a little lost, a twirl and a ditty as compass, but wait she’s on a catwalk. she is in his arms. his eyes travel down to and stay on her lips, a flicker there.

this was not going to be anything like a hindi serial. or like anything else I’d probably ever seen; no, more than seen. felt.

“aisa kyon hota hai… jab bhi aap hamare paas aate hain… toh hamari dil ki dhadkan tez ho jaati hai?… humne samajhne ki bahut koshish ki lekin samajh nahin paaye… bhulana chahte hain par bhool nahin paate… aisa kyon hota hai? bataiye na, aisa kyon hota hai, hamari dil ki dhadkan hamari saanso se bhi tez ho jaati hai.”

“jab tum mere saath hoti ho, toh tumhare dil ki dhadkano ke saath meri dil ki dhadkane bhi tez ho jaati hai. hamari dhadkane ek ho jaate hai. jo tum mehsoos karti ho, jo main mehsoos karta hoon… hamari dhadkane… ek ho jaate hai.”

a bunch of people (sanaya irani, one of the leads, had referred to fans as a “bunch of people” who were creating trouble at a certain point during the troubled last days of ipk, she was always known for being polite, empathetic toward viewers whom she preferred not to call fans, a little too polite i always felt. glad that finally she spoke her mind, even though she sounded peeved. it felt real. and barun, not cogent, disarmingly spontaneous, quite un-pr always felt totally real, “todally” in his funny call centre learned accent). yes, just that. a group of normal people had got together to create a commercially viable product. not a great art project. gifted producers, writers, music director, ensemble cast and two leads. what mattered most was, the initial episodes should roll out well, catch viewers’ attention, get the trp going, keep the serial running a few months, then they’d see how to progress things.

it was to be a love story, nothing really new in that sense, had been done before. in many a mills and boon, and recently in a serial by the same production house: opposites attract, rich handsome self made brusque boy meets middle class pretty gutsy girls, they hate each other, intense clash, and finally love.

yet when the chopper landed and a lean, sensitive face withdrew into itself looking at a mansion, eyes opaque, you had a feeling nobody had quite planned for this.

i will never know what was the igniting factor, the clever writing, the searing acting, the consummate direction, the off beat music, which prodded what to do its best, who inspired whom, or was it just meant to be. but it grew to become much greater than the sum of its parts and it just came right out and carried me away.

“yahan na sahi, shayad kahin aur ek duniya hogi, jahan tum aur main kabhi alag nahin honge… jab jo bura kaha uska koi matlab nahin… jab jo bura kiya uska koi matlab nahin… iss pyaar mein sahi aur galat ka koi matlab nahin… bas ek cheez ka matlab hai… ki main.. hamesha.. hamesha… tumse”

just now as i went back to the 3rd april episode to pick up the words that somehow have gotten intertwined with love and are stored in my memory as part of it, i could feel my heart beat change rhythm, moisture back of my eyes, and a terrible yearning. even when i knew the heer ranjha story was plucked out of nowhere and plonked in the middle of a track going nowhere, possibly a desperate bid for numbers, with an unrealistic set up by sweet nani, even then it felt wonderful, i was absorbed, i believed there was that place somewhere where lovers meet never ever to be parted. two young actors in silly costumes plumbing their roles to find how far it can go can sometimes do things that great literature can’t.

hamesha. a promise, a belief, an aspiration, an ordinary word that found new meaning in iss pyaar ko. there were others: faraq padta hai kyonki…, sach, jhoot, vishwaas, main tumhare bina jee nahin paaoonga, what the, tum theek ho, hai re nand kissore. “heer, utho heer, heer ekbaar aankhe khol kar dekho… heer, main tumhare bina jee nahin sakta… tumhare bina ranjha kuch nahin hai… heer, main tumhe chorkar chala gaya, apne man ko behla raha tha, ki mujhe koi faraq nahin padta… par tum toh jaanti ho ki main tumhare bina jee nahin sakta… jab jo kiya, jab jo kaha sab bhool jaao… bas wapas aa jaao aaj kisi aur cheez ka koi matlab nahin… kisi jhoot ka… kisi sach ka… bas ek cheez ka matlab hai, agar tum nahin, toh main nahin.”

i wish i could keep all the dialogues somewhere safe, read them again later, without sound or picture, just play them out in my mind. and watch barun sobti become asr, sanaya irani smiling khushi, naniji, mamiji, buaji, happy ji, hp before and after being shouted at by asr, shyamu’s twitch, di’s diaphanous saree, and that 2 by 5 swimming pool, the most romantic place on earth. the story began to slip one day sadly, but never once the dialogues. well almost never. of course, the last few episodes were not classic ipk, somewhat heavy even, but then nothing was as it should have been then, therefore not complaining.

in my early days in the forum, when barun was about to go for his shoot, i’d actually written on fairy liquid soap’s post – her posts used to be cogent and invite discussion – that story was what kept me here, of course the actors were wonderful but if barun had to go he had to go, someone just might be able to replace him. i was obviously trying to be calm cool together, and in the bargain completely missing the truth.

thankfully, barun and sanaya made sure that i gave up on that foolishness soon. neither was replaceable. and in the midst of the hurricane that blew plans and egos asunder, maybe what sanaya didn’t realize is that there would be just as huge an uproar if talk of someone else as khushi came up. or worse still, khushi’s death was shot and all set to roll out.

“khushi, mujhe explain karna zaroori nahin samjha?”

he’d asked her on a terrifying day on a bridge. wanting to hear that what he feared was not true. she’d tried to explain but it was not going to work. “chap gaya hai mere dimag mein… mit nahin sakta.” she’d countered, there’s no point, you saw what you wanted to see, heard what you wanted to hear. as i look at the goings on all around, the irony of it. but no matter, in the end, all that will remain is a piece of work that is art. and all who made it happen will only be happy it’s theirs and remember just the good things. the love. just like asr.

but there’s nothing like asr. there’s never been. it all started with him being the mills and boon hero, but arnav singh raizada ended up being so much more. a depth to the character that both the script and the actor revealed slowly. the latter i still believe had no idea where all he would go with this role, he just kept going, and the layers kept opening. oh what i’d sensed, that call of lost places and ravines, it was indeed there. arnav, the ocean, asked me to trust and fall in. I did.

“khushi!… (kyon dard hai tere ishq mein… rabba ve) 
khushi sun sakti ho mujhe? can you hear me?” 

“hamesha.”

“tum tare dekh rahi ho na?”

“aapke aur hamare amma babuji ko dekh rahe hain.”

“hamare parents ko… tumhe pata hai agar yeh baat mujhe kissi ne ek saal pehle kahi hoti toh main uss pe vishwaas nahin karta lekin aaj?… 
ab mujhe lagta hai ki yeh baat sach hai.”

“humne aap se tab bhi kaha than na… 
baat sach ya jhoot ki nahin hai, baat vishwaas ki hai…
ek atoot vishwaas.”

“tumne mujhe iss vishwaas pe vishwaas dilwaya.
kya kar diya khushi tumne mere saath?
itni koshish ki maine itni zyada koshish ki,
ki tumse nafrat kar sakoon par main tumse nafrat kar hi nahin paya
mera khud ka dil meri baat hi nahin manta.”

“aur hamne kitni koshish ki aap se pyaar na karne ke liye…
lekin hamare dil ne bhi hamari baat nahin maani.”

“you know, khushi, main main jab bhi tumhare paas hota hoon
hamesha tum se door jaane ki jaldi mein rehta hoon
 lekin jaise hi tumse door jaata hoon
hamesha tumhare paas aane ka khayal rahta hai.
I don’t need anything else,
khushi, I don’t need anything.”

a telepathic conversation on 19 june 2012, a day when I so wish to break the barriers of 3d reality myself. to me, these words of arnav’s parallel yet intersect (math ka koi matlab nahin) khushi’s “shayad yeh nadani hum kar baithe” soliloquy. on that day, sanaya’s voice, always magical, added an ethereal quality. and this evening in june, barun’s voice, its tears, its wonder, its struggle, its submission, i wish i could keep it all in my memory and return to it in moments of solitude. just to hear and know there is indeed an emotion that transcends all.

a crazy calculation: in 398 episodes, taking a conservative 20 min per episode, we have 132 hours and a bit more of work from the ipkknd cast and creatives, which at 3 hours per movie would be 44 movies and a little bit. in one and a half years of work. that is like nearly one movie every two weeks. gautam hegde had referred to this too.

i thank all of you for reading my ramble through memories and random thoughts and for being part of this fantastic travel into emotion, life, what matters. also all the swooning over a rather good looking boy and his prem kahani with madam jhalli.

i do wish the story hadn’t stumbled, and we’d returned to sheesh mahal to find how everything came from there, shyam’s mangled nature included. but i am grateful we did get to see the inert eyes catch fire and then turn bright and laughing. and a girl who jumped up and said “no” in the grip of her society ordained thinking, finally lean over him and kiss him as she said, “i trust you, i understand,” and let him make love to her before their “marriage.” i put the inverted commas because in my eyes they were already married in the best wedding sequence i’ve ever scene. oh and i know they didn’t get the time to say it in all the rush, but he did marry her for love. nothing else.

gratitude and respect to writers, directors, producers, music director, all creatives, crew, my dear nani who reminds me of mine, mamiji a bit like me in that weirdness, buaji, babuji, amma, daljeet, karan, sana khan, akshay, deepali, abhaas, entire cast.

sanaya, you remind me of the beautiful actresses of yore, a saira, a meena kumari, a nimmi, a nargis, and you have the crack comedy instinct of tina fey. i have just watched you with happiness. i do wish your role was not played with. but we always have the khushi with choti, pompom, mojri, and her cookiness, innocence, fieriness, dm chats and also the lover khushi of the indelible kidnap days.

barun sobti, what can i say. delhi boy with authentic contemporary delhi amrikan english accent, you redefine the male protagonist for my time, for me. after you were done with him, there was never any question of asr dying. in all the off screen fun and laughing it all off, i wonder if you realized what it is that you really created. you are a rare actor. like asr’s character, your talent keeps opening up layer by layer. what a joy to see this commitment and unbridled talent. on the last day, there’s only one scene where you shot with khushi. as she walked away and you turned your head looking at her, following her with your eyes, i thought, no one would believe this man is acting, he really isn’t in love with that girl who walked away.

there are too many moments, scenes, words i remember. always there was an element not of our dimension. a different light, a charge in the air, an emotion breaking out, touching and giving life to inanimate things. the poolside, asr’s room, his lounger, the suv, his waistcoat, her mojri, and that incredible dori. there was a spark everywhere.

“there was a time when meadow, grove, and stream to me did seem apparel’d in celestial light, the glory and the freshness of a dream.”

the opening lines of wordsworth’s ode on intimations of immortality stray into mind. as do so many songs, but sweeter than all songs right now, ar…nav…ji, arrr…nav.” if nothing means a thing then what has any meaning? “that I love you dammit!”

i am smitten and this is not goodbye.

 

indrani’s index

 

 

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  • shaziaz99@yahoo.com'
    Shazia Zaidi
    April 7, 2015 at 3:56 am

    Lovely piece of writing Indi!! It was a show that felt real. Each complemented one another. Even ASR & Khushi felt real. I really wished that they were a real couple, Barun & Sanaya. But anyways what we all wanted when we read romance like Pride & Prejudice, it was like that & much more.

    • indrani robbins
      April 7, 2015 at 3:17 pm

      shazia, thank you so much for reading this. yes… you say it wonderfully, there was taste of the classics in it and so much more.

  • ladkikijhy@gmail.com'
    Ladki Kijhy
    April 8, 2015 at 8:00 am

    I think I’ve read this piece of yours before, but like the show it feels as if I’m reading it for the first time. I may have said this before too, you articulated what is perhaps true for a whole lot of us. The non desi soap watchers, who by some quirk or twist of fate, destiny, what ever one chooses to call it, got caught in the web woven by a group of people through the medium of a desi soap. Joined a forum, a first for me, who has always been a bit vary of the whole online, social networking, interacting with strangers kind of thing. But what it did was open a whole new world, meeting people who have become as dear if not more than many people in our asli duniya. And amidst all this, the show continues to keep us in its thrall, the magic never fading. Many a time one felt like a voyeur, as if we were watching two people going through the whole process of meeting, feeling an attraction, falling in love, and finally submitting and accepting that love for what it is. See, now you’ve made me ramble!

    • indrani robbins
      April 8, 2015 at 9:00 am

      hi lady k, yes, it’s all my fault, absolutely. thanks for reading again. but more, for rambling. it was the most peculiar thing for me too really to fall for a hindi soap… any soap. and then all this online stuff. i mean really who in their right mind hangs out in something called an online forum. hyuk. but it happened just that way and even now, as some people here are more dear to me than many people in my conventional “here” :), there’s a little huh! in me all the time about this whole thing. and it’s been completely stirring too, waking me up, jostling me in away very few things have… and now see? see? did i ever think i’d start a website with a girl half my age., learn to buy things from the internet and collaborate without ever having met and ask stuff like “what’s a widget?” this was the strangest love ever.

      • rhea sinha
        April 8, 2015 at 12:10 pm

        rabba vey ladies <3..

        • indrani robbins
          April 9, 2015 at 1:24 am

          rabba vey ey ey ey

  • rochaney65@gmail.com'
    Rashmi
    April 9, 2015 at 12:05 pm

    I have read this before but once I started reading it I could not stop. You have described what a lot of us feel. I used to feel that I was crazy to be so obsessed with a fictional couple on a Desi soap until my love for IPKkND made me join India forum and I met wonderful women of all ages from different continents crazy like me about a Desi soap. Sanaya and Barun were brilliant as Khushi and Arnav. Looking forward to another post from you !!!

  • indrani robbins
    April 12, 2015 at 12:02 am

    hi rashmi, remember those days? heady, mad, totally alive. all thanks to a soap. i hope some day we reach that feeling again. thank you for reading and sanaya and barun together i do hope we get to see again. i wrote this in the last days of ipk on crooner. so steeped in emotion i have rarely been.

  • javeria150893@gmail.com'
    Javeria
    September 20, 2015 at 4:11 am

    Awesome post about IPK!!!
    I have read your reviews and posts about the pyaar of Arnav and Khushi that just happened like a miracle for their life, and these posts has always refresh those crazy moment i spend waiting for new episodes and twist in their love story. I just feel like one of my most favorite dialogues from IPK!!!

    Jisko jee jaan se chahte hain, jab usse nazron ke samne pate hain tab aankhen bolti hain zuban nehi. Yeh hum jaan teh hain, yeh aap jaan teh, aise mein sawal wohi karte hain jise pyaar kya hain iss ki hawa tak nahi…

    • indrani robbins
      September 20, 2015 at 8:45 am

      thank you, javeria… i wrote this as ipk ended and a part of me just struggled desperately to accept that and stay cogent. yes, jissko jee jaan se… you are so right, an absolutely beautiful dialogue. heer ranjha happened in the middle of an aimless story line, if you examine it rationally, it makes no sense… but uff, it was beautiful… both sanaya and barun so good… and those words. thanks always for reading and your wonderful comments.

  • saman1@me.com'
    Saman
    January 4, 2016 at 7:17 am

    Do you know why I am here on this particular… hmm what to call it?… a trip down the memory lane. Because I am on Chapter 37 of NCOFL… and there are only 47 so far… and the story is flying… and I don’t want it to end. So this was my way of applying brakes, of slowing myself down. I thought let’s explore other things here… and here I am. Once again completely dumbfounded by your ability of verbalizing every thing that I felt for IPK, everything that I thought could not be put into words. Every sentence, every paragraph… all I kept saying was Yes! Yes! Exactly. I was a late inductee into the world of IPK. Caught it when the second showing was almost at the end, November of 2014. Actually if I had been there at the beginning, I would probably have missed knowing the existence of this world completely. I mean there have been other serials in the past and none of them have inspired me to watch them deligently, regularly let alone go searching for them over the net. IPK on the other hand created this frenzy inside of me, this desperate need that I had to, had to see all of it. The episodes were not fully available on You Tube, and what there were, were being taken down. Thus I went searching deeper… somewhere they had to be available, I thought… and landed in this Alternate Universe of FF. If I had heard of someone doing the sort of things I have done for IPK… I would call them crazy people with no life. Yet here I am.

    Long intro to saying, I loved looking at IPK through your eyes. I love the fact that NCOFL follows the original storyline so closely… enhancing the good parts… taking away the not so good. Whenever I read a particularly good story… The comments normally say… Oh I wish the show had gone that way… I don’t wish that. I think the original show, with all it’s ups and downs is the single most amazing creation in the history of Indian drama making. With all the limitations of serving a very wide audience base, with the underlying effort to keep the drama going for as long as possible, they still delivered something which is practically out of this world… Have not been seen before or since. Any change in the original storyline… a satisfying end to any of the classic scenes would have pretty much ended the show. Ended in the sense… there is nothing after Happily Ever After. And that is why the world of FFs is such a joy to explore. Alternate/desired endings hampered by nothing but imagination.

    I agree with you… If they had killed ASR ( oh yeah… that little snippet started another frenzy of googling to find out if they actually kill Arnav… no way was I seeing that scene). The show would be over for me. This is a normal practice in the drama industry, isn’t it? If an actor is leaving or if they want to create a twist in the plot…. the hero/heroine dies, has an accident… presumed dead ( which leads to heroine marrying someone else and so on and so forth)… loses his/her memory… Has plastic surgery and someone new emerges… Has fortune reversal and ends up in the poor house, or Chawls as they are called, wearing banyan and chappals and working as some idiot’s extremely insulted underling… Can you imagine ASR in any of those situations? For this reason… as abrupt/silly the end of the show was… I was grateful for it. I wanted to keep the extremely well dressed, proud, arrogant, rich, Khadoos, SUV driving, Aman yelling ASR’s image in my mind. So I am grateful that Barun’s leaving did not give the story writers a chance to further mess with perfection.

    This extremely long winded… somewhat, or maybe a lot, convoluted digression was my way of saying I loved your take on IPK. I agreed with everything single thing that you said about each character. And I am so happy to have the chance to read your writings. Thank you for sharing Indi ji.

    • indi
      January 4, 2016 at 3:23 pm

      hi saman, thanks for that nice long comment, your thoughts are always lovely to go through. please don’t apologise about length of copy, not to the rambler as in me, at least.

      ipk makes me want to say and say and say some more. yeah, it is not at all like anything i’ve have seen on indian or any other tv, anywhere actually. such a huge experience for me it’s been. became over time a part of my life, giving me much… including the will to write endlessly. did i ever think i’d watch a soap seriously? did i ever think i’d go to something called an online forum and spend hours talking to strangers? did i ever think i’d write “takes” on episodes of a hindi tv serial (almost 310 done)? did i ever think i’d write fanfiction (whatever that was)? did i ever think i’d make collages/edits/gifs/vms and go back to facebook to be part of something called a fan club… ah… life would just not have been all it’s been without ipk.

      i don’t know if you are aware or not but it was really the complete rejection by fans of any death of asr as also someone else replacing barun that ultimately lead to the closing down of ipk. though many of us totally believe, gul wanted out. games were played, mud slung happily. writing post 310 went where no one knows. the channel did not view this kind of vehement, vociferous and insistent audience reaction too kindly 🙂 and though it ended ipk, it ran a scrolling title actually saying it’s all because of barun that the show must end. sigh, such silliness. there was more. another serial with the same name was started. ah well.

      the last days of ipk were harrowing and really traumatic for fans. a strange sort of love was written as a farewell number on a thread called crooner i used to hang out in. mad happy days, when you forget to be cautious, don’t care about anything but feeling what you must feel, saying what you have to… i can never explain the heady sensation of those days of first telecast. 8pm india time was noted across the planet i think. and oh the rush to get to the net the moment you’d seen the episode.

      i came to the forum as the difficult days of ipk got going. post february… and that stupendous wedding. many say that wedding was unplanned, forced on the story by channel… you could clearly see writers struggling to find their way after that. finally they decided to take khushi in the “ott” direction. damaged her, that flatting out of nuance and true quirk, her sanka…

      seeking solace i found the forum… and that was that.

      the story went haywire after a point, characters were badly pushed around, but even then, it remained unmatched in so many ways and that’s all that counts finally.

      please call me indi… and i am totally happy to meet someone as dhakdhak about ipk as me. i write too much, too often, and not always too eloquently, but if something touches you, makes sense, makes music, me thrilled. thank you.

  • saman1@me.com'
    Saman
    January 5, 2016 at 3:41 am

    A pleasure to make your acquaintance Indi. I am enjoying myself so much here. VMs you said. Where can I find them?

    • indi
      January 5, 2016 at 12:16 pm

      hi saman… the vms were taken down star plus of course, i have them on dropbox, will send you links via mail.

    • indi
      January 5, 2016 at 12:18 pm

      hi saman, the vms were taken down by star plus of course. are you on india-forums? i could send you the dropbox links by pm… my if name is indi52.

      • saman1@me.com'
        Saman
        January 6, 2016 at 4:19 am

        Thank you. I really appreciate that. Regards,

        P.S. What happened to Ch 48 of NCOFL?