With the new show, Barrister Babu, Colors seems to be returning to its social base (Balika Vadhu and Na Aana Is Des Laado).
The setting this time around is pre-independence Bengal.
Also now the makers are focussing on a plethora of women and other social issues and not just child marriage.
For the moment, they are turning the glare on the ugly practice of reducing widows to the margins of life, (tonsure hair, can’t eat good food or adorn colorful clothes)
8-year girl Bondita (Aura Bhatnagar) acts as our conscience keeper, by raising very awkward, still, relevant questions (should society not change its old regressive rules? and why are all women supposed to be mute?)
Bondita’s Man Friday would be London returned Barrister Anirudh (Pravisht Mishra), who wants to better the status of the fair sex in India. He was given a very ugly reality check in Old Blighty by a firing, when he tried to stop him for mistreating a lady.
So this landlord family hailing lad decided to take the next steamer back to Calcutta. He walks halfway back as his bullock cart refused to cross a black magic spot. Could he not have wired for a car to be sent? His father is a businessman while his uncle (Rishi Khurana) is the landlord; both are old school.
Anirudh is very close to his family friend Saudamini (Pranali Rathod). Both love each other for years. Her line to would-be-brothers-in-law that I am not yet your bhabhi, makes you smile.
Seeing Anirudh’s social angst, his father asks him to return to England. But the former asks for more time to prove himself, failing which he will toe the family line.
On the other side Bondita’s evil mama and mami plan to get her married to an older man so to avoid paying dowry for their daughter (Antara Banerjee), this they keep away from Bondita’s widow mother (Arina Dey).
To appease the inquisitive Bondita, they give her ruse that she can take her mother, along to her in-laws.
Bondita, then ties up some schoolboys and forces them to write a letter to her would-be husband (not knowing he is old) asking if she can bring her mom along?
Interestingly this letter accidentally reaches Anirudh, seeing the futuristic gumption in the girl, he wants to help her out. Saudamini gets jealous seeing Anirudh praise another woman.
Funnily he wants to reply to her letter in English, but Saudamini wonders whether she would get English?
Soon the truth about Bondita’s husband comes out, and all hell breaks loose. You must have seen in the promo how Anirudh steps up to the plate and marries Bondita when her husband dies.
It would be interesting to see how this story pans out and how this kid keeps questioning our archaic belief systems.
Saudamini will become an antagonist, supported by Rishi Khurana’s kaka character, who will not like a widowed daughter-in-law.
Aura is splendid as Bondita asking those pesky questions.
I also like Pravisht, but he seems a bit younger for the character.
Arina Dey is excellent as Bondita’s widowed mother, so is Antara Banerjee as sis.
Besides women empowerment, this story is also a takedown of caste discrimination. The challenge would be to maintain coherence as if you take too much on your plate; things can go awry.
Also, the other problem would be the leap. Sooner or later, the story will have to be taken forward with Bondita becoming a barrister to fight for ilk. But in many cases, the child actors also become USP of the shows, so a possible creative double whammy!
The makers have also taken care to get 1920 look right. The women look beautiful in those saris (back then, some women did not wear blouses). The men also look apt, as the babus of the British Raj.
Kudos to renowned Producers Shashi and Sumeet Mittal for dealing with women issues, rather than conjuring one more tear-jerker.
Such products also work as clutter breakers and give the platform a niche identity.
Given the fact that Colors has been on an upward trajectory for a while, this show might take it a notch higher, for it balances heavy-duty soul searching with light-hearted banter as well.
The big question is of premiere week ratings, as it seems to have the potential to open as high as Yeh Jaadu Hai Jinn Ka did.
We credit the show with 3 out of 5 stars.