web tv series

‘Sarabhai Vs Sarabhai Take 2’ is funny, but it’s not as sharp as the original cult comedy series

The characters are still as perfectly etched as they were in 2006 and the chemistry is intact, but the jokes often seem to be trying a bit too hard.

It makes sense for Sarabhai Vs Sarabhai to return as a web series on Hotstar, for it is the internet that kept the show alive after it ended in 2006. Even though it was the funniest series on air back in 2004, ratings dwindled in the face of daily soaps packed with mindless plotlines and unnecessarily extravagant jewellery and costumes. Countless listicles, fan pages on social media, and fan-made supercut videos of Maya belittling Monisha and Rosesh mangling poetry created a cult following for the comedy series.

Now, 11 years later, the show has returned and the entire world is cheering together – a loud resounding “Whoopie.”

But things have changed in the past decade. Maya Sarabhai (Ratna Pathak Shah) is still bothered by the absolute middle class-ness of Monisha (Rupali Ganguly). Indravadan (Satish Shah) and Sahil (Sumeet Raghavan) still look for ways to avoid the terrifying poetry of Rosesh (Rajesh Kumar). There is, however, a new addition: Arnab (also known as Guddu), Sahil and Monisha’s seven-year old son who takes more after his uppity grandma than his penny pinching mother. The family has moved into swanky penthouse apartments while their Cuffe Parade flats are being renovated.

The first episode of Take 2 starts on a literal cliffhanger. The Sarabhais are holding on to dear life inside an empty bus that is dangling from the edge of a cliff. The drunk driver whom Monisha hired (obviously) is missing, and Maya is furious at her daughter-in-law. Tensions are high – peppered with some good old Sarabhai humour and some horrible Rosesh poetry. When Monisha helps her son lower the window to go find help, Sahil Sarabhai (Sumeet Raghavan) runs after him and the bus seems to tip over. We move from this predicament to the present day where Sahil welcomes the audience into his palatial and garish new apartment, where he tells us that they all lived to tell the tale.

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Sarabhai Vs Sarabhai (2017).

The tale in question consists of a vision that gives Maya and Indravadan’s Tarot-reading daughter Sonia (Aishwarya Sakhuja) a psychic attack. She talks about an unfulfilled, downmarket wish that is causing turbulence in Rosesh’s life. Rosesh is in love with Jasmine Mavani, actress and “singress” from Jamnagar whose butchered English vocabulary comes with a pronounced Gujarati accent. Maya is not ready for this, especially after Monisha and Dushyant (Deven Bhojani).

Following a loud outburst of emotional blackmail from Rosesh, Maya and the family set off on a road trip to meet Monisha’s clearly unsophisticated Matkadhar Baba in the hope of getting Jasmine out of Rosesh’s life.

The series is still funny, but the many hits come with quite a few misses. While the characters are still as perfectly etched as they were in 2006, and the chemistry is intact, the jokes often seem to be trying a little hard.

There is a certain amount of growing up that the series has managed to do. The web format lets the writers crack more grown-up jokes, something that has so far been unexpected in the Sarabhai universe.

The episodes are worth a watch, and not just for the nostalgia factor. When Dushyant calls his father-in-law in the middle of the night for advice about investing in the ballistic missile submarine, the contact name on Indravadan’s phone is “I’ll explain” – a small but effective nugget of humour. There are more of these sprinkled across the new episodes.

A minor gripe is that the web series has done away with Usha Uthup’s iconic title track. It did a perfect job of setting the context for the show and is still very sticky, but isn’t a part of Take 2.

A new episode is out on Hotstar every Monday. Additionally, a five-seven minute short video is released every Friday to keep up the momentum for the rest of the week. This series is called Crazy Fridays, but so far the short videos haven’t been too crazy or too much fun. There are more episodes to be aired, and perhaps the show will reach the comedic brilliance of the initial run soon enough.

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An interview with the star cast.
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Changing the conversation around mental health in rural India

Insights that emerged from discussions around mental health at a village this World Mental Health Day.

Questioning is the art of learning. For an illness as debilitating as depression, asking the right questions is an important step in social acceptance and understanding. How do I open-up about my depression to my parents? Can meditation be counted as a treatment for depression? Should heartbreak be considered as a trigger for deep depression? These were some of the questions addressed by a panel consisting of the trustees and the founder of The Live Love Lough Foundation (TLLLF), a platform that seeks to champion the cause of mental health. The panel discussion was a part of an event organised by TLLLF to commemorate World Mental Health Day.

According to a National Mental Health Survey of India 2015-16, conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), common mental disorders including depression, anxiety disorders and substance use disorders affect nearly 10% of the population, with 1 in 20 people in India suffering from depression. The survey reported a huge treatment gap, a problem that is spread far and wide across urban and rural parts of the country.

On 10th of October, trustees of the foundation, Anna Chandy, Dr. Shyam Bhat and Nina Nair, along with its founder, Deepika Padukone, made a visit to a community health project centre in Devangere, Karnataka. The project, started by The Association of People with Disability (APD) in 2010, got a much-needed boost after partnering with TLLLF 2 years ago, helping them reach 819 people suffering from mental illnesses and spreading its program to 6 Taluks, making a difference at a larger scale.

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During the visit, the TLLLF team met patients and their families to gain insights into the program’s effectiveness and impact. Basavaraja, a beneficiary of the program, spoke about the issues he faced because of his illness. He shared how people used to call him mad and would threaten to beat him up. Other patients expressed their difficulty in getting access to medical aid for which they had to travel to the next biggest city, Shivmoga which is about 2 hours away from Davangere. A marked difference from when TLLLF joined the project two years ago was the level of openness and awareness present amongst the villagers. Individuals and families were more expressive about their issues and challenges leading to a more evolved and helpful conversation.

The process of de-stigmatizing mental illnesses in a community and providing treatment to those who are suffering requires a strong nexus of partners to make progress in a holistic manner. Initially, getting different stakeholders together was difficult because of the lack of awareness and resources in the field of mental healthcare. But the project found its footing once it established a network of support from NIMHANS doctors who treated the patients at health camps, Primary Healthcare Centre doctors and the ASHA workers. On their visit, the TLLLF team along with APD and the project partners discussed the impact that was made by the program. Were beneficiaries able to access the free psychiatric drugs? Did the program help in reducing the distance patients had to travel to get treatment? During these discussions, the TLLLF team observed that even amongst the partners, there was an increased sense of support and responsiveness towards mental health aid.

The next leg of the visit took the TLLLF team to the village of Bilichodu where they met a support group that included 15 patients and caregivers. Ujjala Padukone, Deepika Padukone’s mother, being a caregiver herself, was also present in the discussion to share her experiences with the group and encouraged others to share their stories and concerns about their family members. While the discussion revolved around the importance of opening up and seeking help, the team brought about a forward-looking attitude within the group by discussing future possibilities in employment and livelihood options available for the patients.

As the TLLLF team honoured World Mental Health day, 2017 by visiting families, engaging with support groups and reviewing the successes and the challenges in rural mental healthcare, they noticed how the conversation, that was once difficult to start, now had characteristics of support, openness and a positive outlook towards the future. To continue this momentum, the organisation charted out the next steps that will further enrich the dialogue surrounding mental health, in both urban and rural areas. The steps include increasing research on mental health, enhancing the role of social media to drive awareness and decrease stigma and expanding their current programs. To know more, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of The Live Love Laugh Foundation and not by the Scroll editorial team.