Successful western shows invariably find a way into Indian dining rooms in desi avatar sooner or later. With Downton Abbey having found fan following in the nation, show makers ought to be planning a desi ‘tribute’ specially as the family, inheritance and succession theme of the show is akin to the content on Indian shows. So here let us look at what inspirations Indian show runners can adopt from Downtown Abbey.
1. The heroine is an earthly being and thus it’s normal for her to have Grey shades.
India once had shows with realistic portrayal of the protagonist such as Hasratein, Banegi Apni Baat and Astitva, but since the ‘Ekta Kapoor Syndrome’ hit the screens, heroines have been mortal saints who would be the epitome of sacrifice and ‘sanskar’. In reality this is absurd . Every being is grey and these shades are what make our lives interesting. Just like Lady Mary Crawley who plots, plans, manipulates, teases, lusts, schemes, laughs, cries and gets cruel, selfish, insensitive, cold, insecure and kind as per the demand of the situation making her all the more relatable.
2. Grandparents need not always be poky and overbearing.
Take a cue from Dowager Countess of Grantham, Violet Crawley. She is a practical elderly. In fact Violet’s character is the best written in the show and not to forget she speaks the best lines.
3. It’s possible to show lifestyles of different classes in one show without much melodrama.
A story need not have a rich thakur torturing poor peasants and his arrogant daughter falling in love with a poor boy to show class equations. In society both classes usually coexist calmly although there exist an innate clash between them. As manipulations of the staff alter prospects of life and death at Downton (remember: her Ladyship’s soap?).
4. Keep the suspense alive.
The plot never fails to surprise you with twists such as Sybil’s death or that of Matthew and the show goes on unlike Indian soap opera where the trailer is enough to tell you the plot as every show is horribly alike.
5. Generation gap only makes the narrative interesting.
Really. The ideas and choices of the 3 generations clash like any normal family but solutions are reached without echoing slaps or glycerine induced melodrama.
6. There’s much beyond saas bahu saga to family drama.
The show has beautifully shown life, death, class struggle, scandal, premarital sex, practical necessities of life, cultural clashes, drama, revenge, tragedy, comedy, politics all in the same frame.
7. Humor can also come in forms apart from forced or crass.
There is no need to induce weird comedy characters in the script or go for crass humor, isn’t the subtle humor in daily life enough to make us laugh?
8. There’s a difference between music and noise.
Downton Abbey has a solid background score but fortunately it is not tacky as its Indian counterparts, specially in the so called emotional scenes.
9. Time leaps can also be convincing for a change.
The narrative of the show has spread across 1912 to mid 1920s and much convincingly than Indian time leaps.
10. And lastly, realistic stories work the best.
Do we really need plastic surgeries, returns after death and multiple marriages? Aren’t we mature enough to deal with deformity, death and affairs like the Crawleys?