I wonder whether the new series on Colors, called Vidya, is an entertainment show or a social service message regarding the dilapidated condition of the education apparatus in India’s hinterland.
And sad to say, the drama bit does go off-kilter. Lead girl Vidya Singh (Meera Deosthale) can’t read or write, yet no one in the village school she is appointed as English teacher gets it. She seems to be doing everything else (cooking, getting new admissions, etc.) apart from her core competence, i.e. teaching the Queen’s language.
If you can call someone unlucky, it is poor Vidya, who was denied an education as a child as her father could not afford school books for both her and her bro. In Border film style, her soldier hubby was called to duty on her wedding day, only to return in a coffin.
Vidya’s greedy in-laws squander away the Rs 50 lac compensation. They then get her false certificate hoping to land her a good government job. Decent wrestler-MLA (Vikrant Singh Rajpoot) Avtaar Singh is also duped to put in a good word for her. But they get a shock hearing that Vidya has netted an English teacher job. I wonder how she would have managed in any other post either, being uneducated.
This Mahesh Pandey production brings into sharp focus how societal attitudes flip when fortunes change. The same woman who was berating her daughter for talking to Vidya now wants Vidya to bless her, as do other community women. Guess everyone wants to ride the gravy train. Vidya’s superstition-invoking scene was also full of pathos.
When Avtaar Singh comes to know of Vidya’s in-laws’ above game, he gives them a dressing down, but still asks Vidya to report to school the next day, as his reputation is on the line.
Vidya then cycles to school. We never see her riding the bicycle though. The principal (Lilliput) should have found out about her lack of education in the very first meeting, but alas.
Then the show details how bad our village education system is – lack of toilets forces children to relieve themselves in the fields, getting bitten by snakes in the process.
She should have surely got fired for cooking a sumptuous mid-day meal despite the notice board clearly saying what to cook.
The village headman, Nanku Singh (Vaquar Shaikh), then asks Vidya to get more students to make up for the loss. He also flips for her.
The scene where the former sings a love song instead of a lullaby to his infant daughter was indicative of his evil bent of mind.
Here, the story gets a bit entertaining when the hero, actor Prem Pratap (Namish Taneja) enters, changing the Ram Leela plot to bat for education and getting over 100 students to enrol in the school, saving Vidya’s goat. Having said that, his line that uneducated people are uncouth was way wrong.
But this do-gooder also lands in a soup when Nanku Singh’s sister Ranjana Thakur (Anamika Kadamb) takes a fancy to him.
Since Vidya is a widow, so along with education, expect widow remarriage sermons as well.
The story also reveals how everyone, right from the village headman to the school headmaster to the education ministry are hand-in-glove in siphoning off of govt education funds. Vidya will now blow the whistle on this fraud as well. Dude, when does she teach English? if not, how come she is yet to be served the pink slip.
It would be fun to see how Vidya uses her photographic memory skills (learnt the shlokas) to initiate her reforms zeal.
To be very honest, we have not really seen much acting skills of lead Meera Deosthale, just the same fearful expressions. Namish stands out in his character, bringing out his carefree swag with elan.
Veteran actor Lilliput is apt as the principal, so is Vaquar as the bad guy. You actually want to slap Nanku.
The first week’s ratings are not impressive. Maybe the numbers will rise as the drama is now picking up with Prem’s entry. We guess the creative ended up using lot of valuable screen time setting up Vidya’s sob story sans emotional relief.
But yes, if the show can force the powers to at least iron out some wrinkles in our shambled grassroots education structure, Vidya will be well worth the effort, for as they say, Padhega India Toh Badhega India.
We at IWMBuzz.com credit Vidya with 2 stars.