Saraswatichandra Review: SLB fails to impress in the first episode

Saraswatichandra hit the screens last night amidst lot of expectations and hullaballoo. And why not? After all… it is ”THE” Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s ambitious plunge in the world of Indian television.

Now, SLB is known for making movies which are grand in scale and canvas. He is someone who would not shy away from holding a paintbrush to add a touch or two to add extra finesse to a piece of Michelangelo or Leonardo Da Vinci.

We are not exaggerating…watch his creations namely Devdas, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam or Saawariya, one will get awe struck with magic spilling on screen.

So did the master manage to bring in identical opulence and creative genius (as he promised in press conferences) in Saraswatichandra? Well…not at all.

The first episode left us disappointed. It strikes an expository note with all pivotal characters being brought in the foray.

Here we would like to share a bit of observation. SLB is a man who has a hunger for success. And success in TV means TRPs. So what does he do? He sticks to the tried and tested formula. There is a lean hero (Gautam Rode) who looks lost and in pain a la Devdas, a father (Chetan Pandit) who is not happy with his son, a sauteli maa (Monica Bedi) who flickers her eyelashes while talking, and of course a beautiful ambitious girl (Jennifer Winget) who is bubbly and brave (similar to Aishwarya Rai from Hum Dil De Chuke).

We also see Kumud’s (Jennifer) family who stays in a large mansion and are very hale, hearty and happy (they all seem to be super rich but none seems to work or do anything professionally).

Anyways, so what did Bhansali bring “new” to television. Nothing…absolutely nothing. Yes, we have tight close up shots and jimmy jibs zooping all around. And the usual Bhansali “din tana nana” raag being played at high volumes at the back ground with actors talking emotively (read: plastic like) to the camera.

Bhansali talks about grandeur, larger than life characters, bringing cinema to TV, but we viewers have already seen his antics in movies, why would we ache our eyes watching the same stuff on TV all over again?

Tall claims…fall flat.

New is what Aamir did with Satyamev, new is what Sphere Origins did with Balika Vadhu, new is what Siddharth Basu did with KBC, new is what Optimystix did with Crime Patrol, new is what Ekta did, doing, and will do with her K serials.

When we talk about performances, Gautam looks lean, mean, Charlie Sheen. But we hope he gets out from his “cardboard expressions mode” and actually acts. Chetan Pandit should stick to talking in Hindi and Monica Bedi should Google the meaning of the word, “confidence”.

Jennifer Winget as Kumud looks like a rip off of Nandini (Aishwarya Rai) from Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam.

All in all, we were left disappointed after watching the first episode of Saraswatichandra. Here’s a suggestion. Mr Bhansali, don’t be worried about TRPs. Do what you do the best. Be creative and do justice to a great story and re-define romance, emotion, magic on small screen. The show can add a new dimension to the entire realm of Indian television.

We hopes that in the coming days, Bhansali will manage to rein in proceedings and understand the difference between TV and cinema and make Saraswatichandra watchable.

Before signing off, we would like to state a thought. Why is that every time a Bollywood biggie “descends” to television business, channels go gaga about it. But there are regular TV producers (who are equally talented) who have to fight with pitch &fork to keep their projects afloat and deal with budgetary issues.

We used the word “descend” as that is what the broadcasters are making of it. Be it SLB or Aamir or Amitabh, they all are respected and good at what they do, but there is also something called “equality of treatment”.

Television has grown and will breed in leaps and bounds and someone like SLB can only add to its progress.

Here’s wishing Saraswatichandra all the luck and success!!!

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  2. Anonymous
    March 03, 05:55 Reply

    It makes me laugh how people can say, “I’m not watching this,” based solely off the first episode. This is Sanjay Leela Bhansali we’re talking about; perhaps the first episode wasn’t the best (I will not attempt to defend it because I agree it lacked in pretty much everything) but that doesn’t mean the rest will follow suit. My mother said the exact same thing and now, after Friday’s episode, she claims to be hooked. Hopefully the same thing happens to other viewers.

    • Yes, your mother was right. It was much better in the friday episode. Mothers are always right. The first Episode was still poorly scripted n acted even in retrospect.

      The danger is when one tries for grandeur eg the entrance of the 2 protagonists, it may fall flat. Girls running around large houses etc etc ala Devdas.

      SC is an epic tale but the performances should not always go for over the board portrayal but gradually building n weaving the complex tale. But what do i know abt film making, (except love watching) slb will get it soon enough. He hit the mark with Devdas n Guzaarish but failed in Sawaariya.
      For SC, he has time to perfect his debut tv serial, about 1995 episodes more as he is aiming for 2000!

      But the subtlety n nuances were there in the fri epi.

    • Anonymous
      March 04, 02:11

      Having read your comments, I watched the first episode once again and I have to say that you are absolutely correct. It seemed like it was stuck in some strange limbo of a big budget movie and a television serial. But as you said, he still has time to perfect it, which I think he may have already started. I don’t know about the 2000 episodes–chances are that Ekta Kapoor will do everything in her power to prevent that–but I’m hoping it stays on for quite awhile. It’s different compared to the others and that, to me, is refreshing. Plus, we get to see more Gautam Rode. Now who doesn’t want that?

  3. ajs
    March 02, 23:56 Reply

    i am not at all disappointed becoz i really loved it……..especially kumud’s entry……..gautam rode acting is just out of the world the way he conveys wat he want to say through is awesome,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,eagerly waiting for next episode

  4. aanya
    March 02, 18:13 Reply

    this serial is based on a novel.. so wat d novel say slb has done accordingly.. 1st episode was a gud1…

  5. sowmiya
    March 02, 01:18 Reply

    Was really disappointed! ;-( but think it’ll get better day by day! Crossin my fingers! 🙂

  6. Eca
    February 28, 06:13 Reply

    I wholly agree. The actors esp the 2 main ones were not impressive at all. They really looked like they were acting n not authentic. Jennifer was not impressive at all as kumud, sorry Jen. Chandra, oops he does not like to be called that as he wanted his name to be joined with his deceased mother’s, was not convincing. The water scenes of both were not as impressive as they were meant to be. Most of the scenes were very cliché.

    Sorry, wont be watching this serial, unless QH is spoilt by bad writing n have no other choice

  7. Anonymous
    February 27, 13:24 Reply

    Yah I am also disappointed with this serial. I ws having lot of expectation from this serial bt I didnt find freshness in this serial.
    Hoping fr d better episodes in future.

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