Is ‘Taarak Mehta …’ the Indian Seinfeld?

I must confess, I am a big fan of Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah! This show has had me consistently hooked for the past two years and is still going strong! I fell in love with it so much that I even went ahead and created an IMDb page for it!

As highlighed in another post, this is one of the prominent shows that has been leading a refreshing revival of Indian television. What makes it different and unique is a variety of factors such as:

  • Excellent family content: Asli mazaa SAB ke saath aata hai!
  • Good humor: The episodes are genuinely funny and the humor is earthy, witty and realistic, unlike an overwhelming majority of Indian comedy serials and films, which rely on nonsensical and slapstick humor and over-the-top hysterical performances from the actors.
  • Interesting storylines: The writers Raju Odedra and Rajen Upadhyaya have done a great job in regularly bringing interesting stories to the show, which is a very difficult thing to do for a show that’s run four days a week (now five) over such a long span of time.
  • Social agenda: Most of the storylines are centered on socially relevant topics, and there is a moral at the end of most stories. It teaches us what is right, without being righteous. And more importantly, it reminds us of the importance of family, relationships and culture, in an era of consumption-driven values.
  • Well-etched characters: The characters have been carefully chosen to represent a microcosm of multicultural and multi-ethnic India. There’s a Gujarati family (a must), a Maharashtrian family, a Punjabi-Parsi family, a Tamilian-Bengali family and the Hathi family (I don’t know how else to describe them!). And then there’s a Muslim shopkeeper, and a representative each from the print and electronic media.

Coming back to the premise of this post, what’s common between TMKOC and the vastly popular Seinfeld? Quite a few things, actually:

  1. Interesting characters with identifiable flaws: The characters are all typically middle-class. They are interestingly etched and have eccentricities, mannerisms and flaws that we either have ourselves or have seen in others. Be it elders habitually lecturing kids on right and wrong, kids learning the intricacies of right vs. wrong, interpersonal disputes, jealousies and aspirations – all characteristic of a natural middle-class neighborhood.
  2. Humor revolving around day-to-day events: Well, both shows are sitcoms, but then so are a lot of others. The key similarity between these two shows that differentiates them from all others is that the situations they derive humor from are realistic and identifiable. Indeed, most of us would have faced similar situations in our day-to-day lives as what the shows contain, and would probably have reacted (or wanted to react) in similar ways.
  3. Intelligent humor: Seinfeld really popularised the genre of intelligent comedy. It’s one thing to make a show like Friends that revolves around creative but unrealistically funny situations. But an intelligent comedy goes beyond obvious humor and shows us the funny side of real life. And that’s what makes TMKOC such a memorable serial – the wit and realism of the humor.

I don’t have much more to add here. I would like to thank the real Mr. Taarak Metha for having penned such a delightful column, and I thank the producers and script writers of TMKOC for having justice to that piece of work. I wish and pray that the show goes on for many more years and provides genuine laughs to an Indian audience starved of quality entertainment in recent years.


1 Comment

  1. matmat01-30-2011

    yes it is!

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