Were your dreams ever shattered, quite literally, by the ‘sweet’, melodious tune of ‘dhoom tana na na na’, or ‘dherena dherena’ from your mother’s or relative’s favourite saas bahu soap? Well, if not, I envy you! But if you have, I can fully empathise with you.
Allow me to elaborate my agony with Indian soaps. I am a boarding school student who gets only a few vacations annually. During this time, all I want to do is lay on my bed and sleep. However, my mom seems to love her Indian dramas more than my sleep. What annoys me most about these dramas is their background score, and the innumerable, over-dramatic scenes with flashes on their faces. Not to forget, their episodes seem never ending.
Well, you must be wondering what I watch to unwind or entertain myself? To honour your curiosity, I am a big fan of the Korean drama Oppa Saranghae.
There must certainly be several questions racing through your mind. Perhaps, you are thinking what is Korean drama and how is it different from Indian drama? Well, from a similarities viewpoint, both dramas revolve around a love story, with the typical in-laws and extended family thrown in. Also, they have their own set of villains and antagonists with their ‘usual’ life problems thrown into the fray. Now, you’re probably wondering, “Aren’t they the same, then?” Well, not quite.
Music, cultural aspects and aesthetics
Indian dramas either adopt songs from a movie or they have their trademark, attention-grabbing scores likes ‘dhoom tana na na.’ Although I currently detest it, I do fear that I might grow to love it someday, just like my mother does. Korean dramas, meanwhile, make use of original sound tracks for each show. This makes the scenes more engaging.
My initial attraction to Korean drama lay in the performers’ unique facial beauty. Sceptics, however, feel that their beauty is entirely due to plastic surgery procedures and dollops of makeup. In my opinion though, plastic surgery is their personal choice, and so is make up. And if the effect is pleasing to the viewer’s eye, so be it. On the same right, Korean cosmetics are quite advanced, although its application involves several steps. They are expensive too but then, as with anything, quality comes at a price.
Their duration and portrayal of the ideal woman
I am close to my mother, and I am familiar with her craze for Indian dramas. Since I do not have much to do at home during vacations, I would simply watch these Indian dramas with her. I will admit that I was even once hooked onto them. In due course, it would be time for me to head off to school. I thought I would miss these dramas, but I was in for a surprise of the unpleasant kind.
When I got home during holidays and resumed watching, the plot had barely moved ahead. On one particular instance, I’d left home when an engagement scene was in progress. Upon my return two months later, the story still revolved around the wedding.
The portrayal of women in Indian dramas versus that in Korean dramas stand in stark contrast. In the former case, the female lead roles typically depict a lady who is married or is about to get married. Even if they were employed, they are shown as though they are simply awaiting their turn in marriage and to take on the role of ‘ideal’ wife, daughter-in-law and mother. In case of Korean dramas though, the female leads are cunning and ambitious; they lay emphasis on their careers, and this is how I envision myself.
Genre mainstays and food similarities
Indian dramas do begin with a specific genre but due to their indefinite timelines, and without any breaks, this genre is often vague by the time the plot nears conclusion. In Korean dramas, meanwhile, they ‘stay on point’. They base their plot on a specific genre with limited episodes and few seasons. In my opinion, this keeps viewers hooked.
Quite interestingly, I went on to discover that Korean food–despite being different from ours–does hold certain commonalities. For instance, their gamja-jeon and our chana dal tikki are similar. And so is kimchi and its Indian equivalent in achaar. But if you ever visit Korea, you must sample ttekbokki, bibimbap and jjajangmyeon.
I’m sure you can now empathise with why I chose to stop watching Indian daily soaps. The decision was fuelled by their never ending episodes; one show called Tarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah has already aired 3090 episodes. Going by the looks of it, there are probably going to be several hundred more. Korean dramas, in comparison, are mostly shorter. The longest Korean drama that I know of is Ugly Alert. It aired 133 episodes without the tendency to perpetually be extended with potent twists and terrible turns.
As I see foresee it, I am part of a growing tribe of Korean drama aficionados, and will continue to remain so. Maybe I will even influence my peers to jump ship and try Korean — drama, make-up, food, et al.