Thursday, March 22, 2007

Kayda aur Suvyavastha: Television Detectives of India Part I

Being an Indianized reference to a famous crime-detection serial (Special mention for guessing which one, detectives)

As I have run out of Indian detectives in literature, I turn to another of media sources (I sound like an executive giving presentation, don't I?), to wit: television.

Now, Indian Television has a very long tradition of detective and crime serials. I must (honorably) mention marathi serials like “Ek Shoonya Shoonya” (meaning 100, titled for obvious reasons), the serial which started ACP Pradyuman's career, “Hello Inspector” (had an extremely catchy tune) and “Dhananjay” (don't remember the actor's name, though he is a good and famous one), which we used to watch in the days when the prime-time “regional” programmes were limited to 7.15 pm to 8 pm (after regional news to before hindi news) time slot. Perhaps, my fascination with detectives started with these, but my memories of them extend no further than the names (“A long time ago, on a TV far away” and all that you know...)

So, I will get to better recognized names. I have already talked about the televised “Byomkesh Bakshi”, and how a great actor backed by great story (and a nice casting) makes for a serial worth watching. There is another detective which confirms this:

Karamchand:

His Name: Karamchand (full name, anyone?)
His (clueless) Watson: (Shut Up) Kitty (which may as well be her full name)
His Moriarty: -



Unfortunately, I don't remember much of the original, except that he ate a lot of carrots, and “Shut up, Kitty” (I was very young then, you know). But the serial was the first proof (being the first detective serial on Indian television) for the theory that Kapoors make great detectives (Pankaj in this case, Rajat in Byomkesh). Even the second innings currently going on is worth watching (and makes you put some faith in “sequels”).

Karamchand is your typical black-goggles and black coat-clad, cool-headed, intelligent, slightly bumbling and eccentric detective. In short, confirming to almost every prototype of a “private eye” (he eats carrots, you know) you can think of. Trivia: he is also apparently a practising lawyer.

Kitty is the cluelessness taken to the extreme, and given that you don't really need a chronicler for TV series, her role is only limited as his secretary (the main part of her duties I guess is to “Shut Up”). Quite different from other detectives, (at least so far in second season) Inspector Khan (played by another brilliant actor, Atul Parachure) is not your quintessential amateur-hating, egotistic fool, but works in tandem with Karamchand, and is knowledgeable and a good inspector on his own (of course, that does not mean that he gets everything or the brilliant Karamchand does not explain things after the climax).

The stories are mysterious enough to keep you glued to the seat (can't glue you to the screen, right?) and keep your interest alive for the entire hour. Again, as far as I remember, the original cases were limited to gharelu matters per se, and the second innings keeps to the roots (director is also the same, Pankaj Parashar), merely making the crime scenes more “exotic”, like a beauty pageant-training institute, reality-show shooting and all.

My advise? Though Karamchand eats less carrots due to inflation, he is no less intelligent or less interesting. Go watch...




Had to split the post in 2, because it kept getting longer and longer, so watch out for part II.



The Great Eagle has spoken...

Quote of The Day:

...any moment before the end might be the important one. This I believe.
- Agatha Christie

8 Comments:

Neihal said...

Byomkesh Bakshi and Karamchand BA LLB (his full name :P) were my two most favorite characters on TV...I wrote a bit in my post on TV programmes and was reminded of Vijay Anand playing another detective in Tehkikat, with Saurabh Shukla..remember??

Fleiger said...

@Neihal: Welcome...

As I said, Karamchand was long time ago, so I don't remember the series that much, hence my harping on "second inning" (and thanks for pointing out the full name) Byomkesh is more remembered maybe because I got access to translated stories, too.

And yes, Tehqiqat is coming up in part II. The series just keeps growing... (Can you put the link to your post? I may link that)

Neihal said...

I dont remember much either...havent had the chance to watch the new Karamchand series....

http://neihal.blogspot.com/search/label/Television

the link...but there aint much info.
:)

Fleiger said...

@Neihal: Thanku for the link, that was a trip down the memory lane :D

And try and watch the new Karamchand (have you admitted a TV into your house now?) He is brilliant as always. You can even catch the Byomkesh reruns :D

SiD said...

well.. like you I also dont remember much of Karamchand.. except the music.. kaaaarammmm chaaandddd....
carrots and of course Kitty..
do u remember who played kitty earlier.. i remeber the face but not the name..
the present kittty is cute though ;)

Fleiger said...

@Sid: Sushmita Mukherjee played Kitty originally (she was last seen playing the "Dadi" in new Golmaal)...
I agree, present Kitty is much cuter ;)

Rockus said...

I haven't seen Karamchand... would like to give it try...But, boy, I loved Byomkesh Bakshi! Has been hunting rather unsuccessfully for downloading the entire series...how I wish they released it as a DVD set...I would gladly buy it...

Fleiger said...

@Rockus: Oh, I would love to have that DVD too... Meanwhile, it is being re-broadcast, you know?

Try Karamchand too. As I said, Pankaj Kapoor is a great actor, and he is backed by an excellent casting and a superb storyline.

Have I found a fellow thriller-lover here?