Sunday 14 April 2024

Sridevi lights up 'Malini Iyer': First Review of Sridevi's only sitcom from 2004

Sahara's latest offering, produced by Boney Kapoor, Malini Iyer ushers in a different genre of programming. A comedy with an emotional undercurrent complete with the Sahara brand of opulence.

Launching on 19 January, 2004 at 9 pm, the bi-weekly marks the television debut of Superstar Sridevi, who is back in the limelight after a six-year hiatus. 

First things first, the writer seems to have done his job well. Not only does the show have its humour quotient intact, it also manages to get the correct emotion mix and the right momentum to keep the viewer glued till the last scene.

In an era, where most makers focus on gimmicks rather than a good story, Malini Iyer seems to stand out as an exception. Here's a serial that's refreshingly different from the rest of the fare on the small screen. The focus is clearly on content, and not on performing endless poojas, rituals, and extreme get ups, atrocious facial expressions, never-ending plotting or constant bitching sessions.

Don't go by the inaugural episode though. Latter episodes do not follow the mediocre launch's footsteps. The story is about a Punjabi family - Sabarwal - with Vijay Kashyap and Sushma Ahuja playing the patriarch and matriarch respectively. The family fortunes are built up on Daddyji's (Kashyap) automobile business. Sadly, his sons aren't keen on lending their father a helping hand. The elder one (Vinay Pathak) is addicted to gambling, the second son (Mahesh Thakur) aspires to graduate from being the twelfth man in the cricket team to being selected in the final eleven, and the youngest one (Kamlesh) dreams of being a film star.

Speaking about the histrionics of the leading characters, the jokes cracked by Daddyji have a knack of getting on the nerves, while the three sons appear quite lost. But just when you are contemplating on writing off this show as a loud and nonsensical comedy, enters Sridevi AKA Malini Iyer nee Sabarwal... and she lights up the screen completely and all the creases are flattened out. As if on cue, other actors start upping their respective performances. Such is the magical presence of the actress, who has thankfully not lost her zing for comedy.

Sridevi's mannerisms and dialogue-delivery are as superb and spontaneous as ever. It needs some scratching of the memory cells to recall that it has been about a decade since she reigned over Bollywood. Her return to the arc lights have certainly been seamless. She knows exactly what the shot requires. She doesn't underplay and neither does she go over the top.

"Once the camera rolls, Sridevi just lets herself go. Off the camera she is reserved, but once the shoot begins there is a complete transformation," remarked Tanushree who plays Vinay Pathak's wife and Malini Iyer's sister-in-law.

Going back to the script. Mahesh Thakur has married a South Indian girl, Sridevi, without his parents' knowledge, but they welcome her with open arms. Her entry scene is obviously dramatised complete with the 'paaye lagus', 'diyas' and 'aartis', but that's about it. The show is about how the family keeps getting into difficult situations and this bahu bails them out every time, and while doing the good deed also imparts some moral thoughts for them to ponder upon.

In one such situation is a gang-lord played by Manoj Joshi (Mayor Saab of Kehta Hai Dil fame) bullying the Sabarwal family to give their house over to his possession. The act where Malini Iyer tames the gang-lord is a scene worth recommending. 

While the premise may be about a lady and her family, the show is episodic in nature. A particular story completes in two or three episodes.

The idea is not just to make you laugh or cry, but to make you think. Take the gang-lord episode for instance, the teaching clearly indicates that even today in the times of violence and bloodshed, love can win over anybody. 

Sridevi has done full justice to her role. It is a beautiful role of a woman who loves the family she is married into, yet will not give up her identity. Plus, she fights all the obstacles in life in a no-nonsense manner. Thus, making Malini Iyer a good mix of Tulsi and Rajni.

On occasions, she may start rambling in Tamil especially when she is overjoyed or livid, but before these become too long, she packs a punch in English. Remember the promos - B.A. in Tamil, jisme English bhi shaamil...?

Will Sridevi succeed, where Karisma Kapoor failed? While there is definitely no parallel between the acting skills of Sridevi and Karishma, the show clearly is better one in terms of content and performances.

Although it is his maiden television venture, Boney Kapoor seems to have created an engrossing fare. The only hitch could be the popularity (or rather lack of it) of the channel. But 'Malini Iyer' could easily be the first solid helping hand that Sahara is desperately seeking.

Produced by Boney Kapoor (Sridevi's husband), the serial is co-directed by Satish Kaushik, Sanjay Chhel, Sushma Ahuja, Nikhil Syani and Manjul Sinha.


Posted on 17 January 2004

Filmy Kaliyan Hindi tabloid: Sridevi, Rekha and Bhagyashree on the cover


Friday 12 April 2024

Boney Kapoor and Sridevi at a wedding reception: TBT to 2007

Sridevi and Boney Kapoor during the wedding reception of Priyanka Nimbalkar and Nilesh Rane, son of politician Narayan Rane, held at the Mahalaxmi Race Course in Mumbai. 

-- November 3, 2007

Sridevi in her only sitcom Malini Iyer (2004)

Sridevi in her only sitcom Malini Iyer (2004)