PRIME TIME LATHER

An­other bas­tion falls. The first gay cou­ple on In­dian tele­vi­sion has view­ers hooked.

India Today - - TELEVISION - by Nishat Bari MARYADA...LEKIN KABTAK? has flirted with ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity so far. Now, it’s hav­ing a full-fledged re­la­tion­ship

Agar apni patni ki ba­jaye aap ko kisi aadmi se hi pyar karna tha toh mu­jhse shaadi kar ke apne ghar me bithane ki kya za­roorat thi? (If you had to love a man in­stead of your wife, what was the need to marry me?)” asks a new­ly­wed wo­man on find­ing her hus­band ex­chang­ing pas­sion­ate I love yous with his boyfriend. Not some­thing we are used to see­ing on In­dian tele­vi­sion. It gets bet­ter. The first gay cou­ple on In­dian tele­vi­sion, who don’t flut­ter their eye­lashes or pout like girls, also hug and kiss. The un­likely set­ting: a pa­tri­ar­chal fam­ily in a Haryana town.

Maryada...lekin Kab Tak? was launched on Star Plus in Oc­to­ber 2010 as yet an­other house­hold drama with be­jew­elled women wan­der­ing aim­lessly about a pala­tial house, till pro­duc­ers Tony and Deeya Singh, the mak­ers of Jassi Jaissi Koi Nahi, de­cided to jazz it up with a large dose of shock value. In the first four weeks of go­ing on air, the show had a TVR of 1 ac­cord­ing to TAM Me­dia Re­search. It picked up in May and June to 1.2 when the gay an­gle was in­tro­duced. The rat­ing now stands at 1.6. The se­rial has run into 270 episodes.

Ac­tors Dakssh Ajit Singh, 30, and Karan Singh, 29, were roped in to play two gay char­ac­ters so much in love that they are in­sep­a­ra­ble even when one of them is forcibly mar­ried. Karan had two words when the role was of­fered to him, “No, thanks.” He wasn’t the only one. So many ac­tors turned down the role that the pro­duc­ers al­most wanted to hide the ho­mo­sex­ual an­gle dur­ing au­di­tions. Dakssh was more con­cerned about his ma­cho im­age of a body­builder from Ludhiana tak­ing a beat­ing. “A few friends scowled, ‘What are you show­ing on TV? Our chil­dren will ask ques­tions’,” he says. The chal­lenge as an ac­tor was what con­vinced them both. “If two Hol­ly­wood studs (Jake Gyl­len­haal, Heath Ledger) could act in

Broke­back Moun­tain, I could def­i­nitely take up the chal­lenge,” says Karan.

The two qui­etly assert their own ori­en­ta­tion. Dakssh talks about how his girl­friend had no prob­lem. Karan is on a short break to get mar­ried.

Damini Shetty, who wrote the show, main­tains there has only been pos­i­tive feed­back so far; a boy even wrote to Dakssh say­ing his par­ents had stopped pres­sur­ing him to marry af­ter watch­ing the show. But the flip­side is ‘in­de­cent pro­pos­als’ posted on the ac­tors’ so­cial net­work­ing pages. As they say, it swings both ways.

AC­TORS DAKSSH AJIT SINGH (LEFT) AND KARAN SINGH IN

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