Producer JD Majethia, one of the names behind Indian television's beloved family comedies Khichdi and Sarabhai Vs Sarabhai, says he is happy that these two shows are returning on the small screen at a time when people need 'qualitative laughter'.
After Doordarshan, other channels such as Star Bharat and Sony are also trying to keep the viewers engaged and entertained with their blast from the past as production remains suspended on movies and shows due to the coronavirus lockdown, which ends April 14.
Majethia said as an artiste, they are fortunate to be able to contribute to the essential services -- which now includes bringing a smile on one's face -- in whatever little way possible.
"Crores and crores of people of India will have to think about this country. Many essential service providers -- healthcare workers, government servants, bank employees, shopkeepers, vegetable vendors, newspaper vendors -- are right now out of their homes doing their job, helping people."
"We, the artistes, who are at home are also among them. We are a kind of doctors who are trying to dispel the hopelessness around. We are happy that we are getting to play this role, that we have got an opportunity to do our bit in this situation," Majethia, who co-produced the two shows with writer-director Aatish Kapadia, told PTI in an interview.
With Sarabhai at 10 am and Khichdi at 11 am, the audience will get to see two back-to-back episodes of the shows daily on Star Bharat, the producer said.
"People don't know what to do with their time anymore now that there's no routine. When you're not excited to wake up, it frustrates you more. This is good for those who don't have access to OTT. Why waste money on streaming when it's coming on TV?
"When you'll laugh, you will have fresh, happy thoughts, you'll feel good. This qualitative laughter of these shows, which have proved their mettle in the past, is a big thing," he said.
While actor-director Deven Bhojani and Kapadia are credited as co-directors of Sarabhai, the latter also served as the writer-director of Khichdi.
Khichdi, which ran from 2002 to 2004, was a light-hearted look at a middle-class Gujarati joint family called the Parekhs and featured Majethia, including the likes of Anang Desai, Rajeev Mehta, Supriya Pathak, Vandana Pathak. Kapadia had a recurring role.
Then came Sarabhai in 2004, a comedy which revolved around the life of an upper class Gujarati family, the Sarabhais, who live in the posh South Mumbai area.
Its ensemble cast boasted of acting powerhouses like Ratna Pathak Shah, Satish Shah, Sumeet Raghavan, Rupali Ganguly and Rajesh Kumar. Bhojani starred in a recurring role and Kapadia had a cameo in one of the episodes.
Both shows are cult classics in their own right and have spawned into new seasons and even a film, in case of Khichdi.
Majethia said Khichdi and Sarabhai owe their longevity to the characters in these shows.
"They still amuse and entertain people. make them laugh through their silliness and absurdity. The audience loves the interpersonal relationship between these characters."
"When people love a comic character, they never forget them. These characters are and will be loved for years to come. Whoever is a fan of these shows is now also an owner."
The producer said they were in discussions for a new season of Khichdi on Star Bharat a month before the lockdown was announced.
"When lockdown happened, we thought why not re-run Khichdi on the channel and see how people resonate with it today. Then we'll take a call on whether we should go in for another season. The channel gave a greenlight for the re-telecast and added a bonus of Sarabhai Vs Sarabhai," he added.
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