While the first season, featuring Sakshi Tanwar and Ram Kapoor as unlikely soulmates, was an unprecedented success, here’s looking at how the sophomore season stacks up against its formidable predecessor.
The second instalment of Bade Achhe Lagte Hain, starring Nakuul Mehta and Disha Parmar in the lead, has opened to rave reviews. As anticipated, the protagonists of the reboot are also named Ram and Priya — two characters still profoundly etched in public memory. Ram Kapoor and Sakshi Tanwar, the two dependable actors from Balaji camp, played a middle-aged couple married under dire circumstances. These two characters were as compatible as oil in water, but how they find love despite their differences formed the nucleus of the heartwarming debut season.
Filmmakers have frequently resorted to rejigging formula movies and shows to garner easy patrons. Bade Achhe Lagte Hai enjoyed undisputed popularity for more than three years (the show kickstarted in May 2011 and ran till July 2014). Even when the show got increasingly convoluted with the introduction of scores of new actors in true Balaji Telefilms series fashion, it was Kapoor and Tanwar’s crackling chemistry on screen that ensured viewers remained invested in the journey of the unlikely “soulmates'' till the end of their ride.
Here was a story of a 40-year-old industrialist with seemingly every aspect of his life in order. On the other hand was Priya, disillusioned with life as a middle-class woman having to struggle every step of the way to survive, if not thrive. Her shoulder is heavy with the responsibilities of her dependents, and her life is marked by a series of sacrifices that most often go unnoticed. Even her marriage to Ram is one of convenience — that takes place after her younger brother insists Priya get married before he does.
Sakshi Tanwar's career is peppered with roles that have glorified self-sacrifice — be it as Parvati in the hit family soap opera Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki, or a wrung-out homemaker in Ashwiny Iyer Tiwary's poignant short Ghar Ki Murgi. But it is in Bade Achhe Lagte Hai that her character is endowed with human qualities like anger, impatience and irritability. Here too, she fulfils her duties of being an ideal daughter, sister and wife, but without the gentility normalised in Hindi soap operas. In comparison, Ram Kapoor's namesake is more tempered, in tandem with his life cushioned with wealth and opportunities.
And this is precisely what propelled Bade Achhe Lagte Hain into a league of its own. It wasn't blind to class disparities, nor did it use their differences for cheap comedic effect (ala the oh-so-popular and toxic Iss Pyaar Ko Kya Naam Doon). Interestingly, throughout the show, hardly is Tanwar ever seen in designer garments or accessorised in fineries. It's not just an indication of her paavan-ness (purity and/or simplicity), it's also evidence of her spending capacity.
The realistic treatment of characters in Bade Achhe Lagte Hain aside, why the show became a global hit was because of how tenderly it depicted companionship. We may all love a bit of raging hormones in our romantic dramas, but it is equally gratifying to watch two individuals rewriting the rules of love. For the first time in the history of TV soaps, a show dealt in detail with individuality and space — where characters voiced their opinions, not just for dramatic effect, but to further the plot.
Bade Achhe Lagte Hain 2 has already released the first few episodes, and the similarities between the characters of Ram and Priya stretch beyond just the names. Like Kapoor’s character, Mehta plays a perpetually garrulous fellow whose optimism feels too contrived for being set in 2021. He is… you guessed it… an industrialist reminiscent of Shahid Kapoor’s Aditya Kashyap in the latter half of Imtiaz Ali’s Jab We Met. Parmar’s Priya is a spitting image of Sakshi Tanwar’s character — she is a cynical school teacher who doesn’t quite romanticise sudden bursts of rain. She is as feisty as Tanwar’s Priya, taking down classist bullies in restaurants with street-smartness and a pious gusto. On closer inspection though, one finds Bade Achhe Lagte Hain 2 is a far more commercial venture. So funny background cues underscore funny scenes; sombre percussion indicates tragedy is about to strike you with a loaded pistol. This new instalment leaves no room for subtlety or nuance. The sets look as manufactured as a school theatrical production, and conniving villains enlighten you about facial muscles you didn’t know existed.
Although it is too soon to gauge how the second season will pan out, appearing to be a bonafide rip-off of the original is always a red signal. Perhaps, once the makers shed off the weight of expectations will Bade Achhe Lagte Hain 2 get an opportunity to soar. For now, we can all be versions of the chirpy and idealist Ram Kapoor, hoping that the reboot will break as many grounds as the original.