Shakespeare in pink glasses

Why Indian soap operas are like Shakespeare’s plays

Or, Thapki Pyar Ki: the strangest show you’ll never see.

Television is having its Harold Macmillan moment: we viewers have “never had it so good”. For Western audiences, that means serials with all the complexity, subtlety, visual artistry and budgets once reserved for the big screen: The Handmaid’s Tale, Fargo, anything Nordic…

The pressures of daily episodes, on-screen competition and the size of the viewing population* have pulled some Indian soap operas in a different direction – and it’s closer to Shakespeare as it would have been experienced in Elizabethan England: cheap, quick and populist.

* BARC India estimates TV audience viewing figures for 2017 as 780 million – that’s more than the entire population of Europe. Source.

Thapki, or not Thapki: that is the question

The time they replaced the lead actress

By the time the show ended, things definitely seemed off. In the last ever track, Jigyasa Singh (Thapki) temporarily left the show because of illness. While Eastenders would have had her go to Spain to run a bar for a few weeks, TPK ran a storyline involving plastic surgery with criminal intent…


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Shakespeare in pink glasses:

Indian dancer image: Saksham Gangwar on Unsplash