India’s growth story has been stymied for years by lack of sanitation. There have been sustained efforts for the past 4/5 years to change this age-old social mindset. Even the entertainment industry has been doing its bit, in the form of Akshay Kumar starrer, Toilet Ek Prem Katha.
Now, even broadcast TV has joined the party, with new Rishtey show, Navrangi Re, focusing on sanitation issues in a small mohalla (locality) somewhere in Uttar Pradesh. Here the emphasis is on urban sanitation in small towns and depressed areas of metropolitan cities, as opposed to villages.
Given the issue and backdrop, we really can’t expect huge sets and classy story lines; the plots are obviously simple and very mundane.
Lead actor Aamir Ali plays a street smart reporter, Vishwaas, of a local news channel, is unable to pay his rent. We guess he is trying to replicate Aamir Khan’s character of Dil Hai Ki Manta Nahi.
Female lead Vaishnavi Dhanraj, last seen in Bepannah, plays Chitralekha, the feisty daughter of an ex-serviceman, played by Raju Kher. The latter has given freedom to his daughter to fight her own battles – another social message in the story.
The supporting cast is made up of mohalla strongwoman/owner, played by Sushmita Mukherjee, who doubles the charges for using the toilet, knowing that the poor people have no option but to pay up. Her son (Manmohan Tiwari of Jaana Na Dil Se Door fame) is a good-for-nothing dude who has the hots for Chitralekha.
One of the mohalla kids can speak to the paid toilets which can be an effective way to put out the message of cleanliness and health.
There will be episodic stories on the importance of sanitation, like the first one focused on the clash between sweet shop owner and Vishwaas’ miser landlord, Motichoor, who refuses to build a septic tank for his toilet which leads to untreated sewage landing in the nullah and Chitralekha’s dad, whose clothes get soiled by the same dirty water.
This dispute between Motichoor and the fauji is to be decided by a cricket match played by mollaha members of both sexes. If Motichoor loses, he will build the septic tank; but if Fauji does not win, he will have to move out, bag and baggage.
The willow battle was cute, and the different bowling styles made us laugh. Motichoor’s wife leaving the pitch midway to switch off the gas was a telling comment on how women are conditioned not to think beyond the kitchen.
Sixes smashing Vishwaas, although in the wrong team, gets himself out at the very fag end so as to endear himself to Chitralekha, who for the moment is not giving him the time of the day. Yes, eventually sparks will fly. The nok-jhok between them is quite funny and very provincial, so as to better appeal to the target audience. No character is really evil and all are quirky. This again was needed, to keep the focus on the key issue.
No prizes for guessing that the Fauji’s team wins, but Motichoor fillibusts on his commitment.
Based on the first two episodes, we feel that the show is all set to tackle the sensitive issue of the need to have proper sanitization. To weaving a story around such a cause that too for the small screen is a tough job. But we must say the effort is commendable so far. Core sanitation seems a good setting ground, based on which the genre of comedy is played upon. The approach of using satire or black comedy effectively to question people on their old practices which are not only harming their own health, but that of their neighbours as well is good enough.
Rishtey till now has only aired library content from Colors. This is its first attempt to air original content. A good effort of Viacom to come up with such a concept to kickstart originasl content on Channel Rishtey.
We are sure that the entry of yesteryear Bollywood superstar, Anil Kapoor, as a guest will help this biweekly weekender to gain more traction on air and in the media as well. Also, Rishtey being a Free-to-Air channel better allows the content to reach its target audience of small towns and villages, as opposed to Colors, which is a pay channel.
Vaishnavi is doing a good job and this also fulfils her dream of becoming a lead on a GEC. Until now, she was only doing strong character roles. The creatives have given her an apt look.
Aamir, who had been missing in action for a long while, also gets a chance to get back into action. We should say, a good role to come back in.
Siddharth Kumar Tewary’s Swastik Productions always puts in a lot of thought into research, good characterizations and getting the story line right. They are spot on here too, and should be commended for picking up such a concept. This only shows the production house’s tenacity in covering wide range of topics on the small screen.
This concept brings in a positive vibe. Hope other networks also follow Viacom 18 and make socially-relevant content. Aamir Khan’s Republic Day short film, Rubaru Roshni, was another such patriotic attempt. The audio-visual medium, along with the B-Town connect, is a sure-shot way to make people listen. The series has also been made watchable on Voot, the digital arm of Viacom 18. This will bring in more viewers for sure!!
We at IWMBuzz.com give 4 out of 5 stars for Navrangi Re.