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Friday, June 24, 2011


Karamchand - T V Series

I’m not sure if Desi Dabba readers feel the same way I do, but the revival of the iconic TV series Karamchand has left me rather cold. In retrospect, it isn’t surprising. Karamchand got most of its cachet from the fact that it was a stylistic series. The stilted camera angles, the extended shots, the informal dialogs and of course, the idiosyncratic title character himself. It was also India’s first indigenous crime drama.

Fast forward several years later and none of these trappings are compelling enough to watch. Which is why reincarnating Karamchand without a major reworking is such a bad idea. So how bad is it?

Let us count the ways.

First, it always confounds me why Karamchand is constantly surrounded by idiots. Ok, perhaps his idiosyncratic way of thinking allows him to see things other don’t. But really? All the time? The stories revolve around how brilliant the detective is. But the stuff he “uncovers” is either simplistic or so plucked from thin air that it either underwhelms you or defies logic.

Second, Karamchand’s ticks just aren’t endearing anymore. And for us to be able to connect with the detective, we’ll need a bit more of a back story. How about throwing a boy in his path that he is forced to adopt? Give that useless character – Kitty – a romance on the side with one of Karamchand’s clients. Something – anything that will distract us from the lame mysteries.

And while we are at it – what’s the deal with Kitty? Give that girl something to do besides circling Pankaj Kapur and receiving Karamchand’s sexist insults with a smile. In the hands of a good writer, she could have an absorbing role to play in the series. And don’t tell me one isn’t around. Hire someone from a saas-bahu serial if need be to help you flesh out that woman.

Finally, those stories need to be sharper. This involves a lot of research about process. There is no point in ripping stories out of the headlines and creating a terrible procedural drama around it. Once you have genuine tension and mystery in the story, those edgy camera angles and extended shots will start working really well. But until then they just look like an unnecessary gimmick.


  1. I don't Know about new Karamchand series as they aired when I had already moved abroad but from memory, old Karamchand aired in 1980's, IMHO, was leaps & bounds better than other detective serials like over-rated Byomkesh Bakshi & Tehkikaat, in style, direction, music, acting & suspense. In fact, I consider it to be the best detective program on Indian TV till date. A shame that there is no DVD set available otherwise I will buy it in a heart beat. I remember there was another good detective serial in those times where Parikshat Sahni played lead. I was called Barrister Vinod.

  2. Anyone knows how you could buy CDs or download online all old Karamchand serial episodes