Korean Drama: Big (2012)

This is a Korean drama that I would never have watched if it wasn’t for Gong yoo (of whom I am a big fan after Coffee Prince. Who isn’t! Choi Han Kyul it is.)

It’s written by the Hong sisters of Korea who have been religiously churning out romantic comedies over the past five years, some of which have achieved near cult status with a dedicated international following.  Their earlier work has included ‘Greatest Love’ with Gong Hyo Jin and Cha Seung Won. Although one essentially needs to leave the brains behind while watching fare from this sister duo, Big tested various limits of endurance and tolerance. Littered liberally with the characteristic cute scenes, assignment of accessories, quick repartee and funny situations, the drama ended up being extremely violent to ones senses in its careless handling of story.

This could have been a simple soul swap = confusion = hilarity = romance. But the undue importance given to the soul swap itself, making it almost a suspense mystery with every single scene having the build up of separate Agatha Christie novels, the drama lost the plot ages ago. And we, our minds. And right at the end, the sisters walked away telling us how unimportant the soul swap really was. While all of us stood stunned. They did a similar thing with Greatest Love, where the lead man has an artificial heart and the entire series focuses extensively on that except the last episode, where we were told, anh, thats okay, he got a surgery in a foreign location. He is now okay. Don’t have to worry about that. But this series managed to hold its thread of the public/private lives of people in the entertainment industry. No such luck with Big.

The primary premise of Big finally was to just keep the surprises and shocks coming at the cost of story, characters and pretty much everything there is.  What I have realised is that the Hong sisters’ writing is an extremely violent kind of writing. And as they are one of the few visible writers that get spoken about in an otherwise actor dominated public domain, they have to bear the brunt in a public domain as well. To be fair, there is some great dialogue and witty repartee writing in Big, but that is pretty much all.

I understand that Korean drama writing happens live, meaning there are only about three episodes written before shooting begins. I imagine this generally means that the director/actors have very little to form their visual commentaries or character commentaries early on in a drama. Therefore everything depends on the writing itself. On the actual dialogue said at that moment. The acting and the directing were all faithful to that particular scene and episode but failed to convey anything beyond. Nobody really knew the characters beyond each line, not the actors, the director and from the looks of it not even the writers themselves. This is a great disservice to an audience.

A lot of dramas have however survived bad writing, bad equipment, bad acting to finally become cult hits. Some of them from Hong Sisters themselves. Example, You’re Beautiful which I couldn’t watch past a couple of episodes, Delightful Girl… (another drama that violated one’s senses) etc. But with Big, even this failed to happen. It will be interesting to see what they come up with next. I will not be watching it however.

Anyway, this is one of those dramas that would have by passed me totally but somehow ended up being right under my radar and I am still reeling with the unfairness with which it treated me. Biggest take away from the drama was Baek Syung Hoon in the role of Choong Shik who should be patting his back for a job well done in an otherwise one pot stew with a serious case of ‘Ingredients gone wrong’.

Let me end this by saying watch Gaksital for a home grown super hero of epic proportions, with some uncontrived trauma, ‘life and death’ choices and dilemmas. It is a superhero Manga/Manhwa brought to life.

Review: Aamir Khan’s Satyamev Jayate

Aamir Khan must know what he is up to. He is making an effort. And that is commendable. He could have made a wildly popular show, catering to the various so called demand factors. He could have picked up a format of many shows especially from the US, and replicated them

     

or he could have just sat at home..

He is Aamir Khan.

As an actor,  as supposed to the technical requirement of an actor, he could have concentrated on acting alone. But he is also a budding activist who will probably see the culmination of his activist side quite late. Satyameva Jayate looks like his next step in the journey of activism.

And as the star system in our country is quite prevalent, he probably has a huge impact on the psyche of the large populace. A psychologist one told me that after ‘Taare Zameen Par’ she had a seriously steep increase in the number of parents inquiring into the well being of their child. ‘Rang De Basanti’ seriously challenged the imagination of a number of youth across various  segments. ‘3 Idiots’ lended credibility and increased awareness of the largely secluded phenomenon of the industry of churning ‘engineering’ graduates. These may not be my favourite films but apparently they changed the minds of a large amount of population on these issues. This can’t be bad I thought.

What is worrisome is the mindset of the general populace which can be turned this way and that or be awakened or put to sleep depending on the popular shows. But that is something we all have to ask ourselves. How responsible are we and the answers we find can then be reviewed (not Aamir Khan’s fault, naturally). And if shows like these decide to generally wake up the kind the audience that thrives on Saas Bahu serials, then all the better.

The show itself felt very worked on. Programmed to affect, to effect. Much better than seeing Ramanand Sagar’s and B R Chopra’s flawed interpretation of Ramayana and Mahabharata that we had to live with for decades. Generally filling us up with a one dimensional view of our epics. Or even Chandrakantha.

    

This decade has long since felt like a slow awakening of India/indians into a self critical country aware of the multitude of our faults. And this seems like a step further in this direction.

Cheers to the brave heart of Aamir Khan, who has decided to brave the frontier of social programming with strong marketing brain. He has this unique hold on certain people, certain parts of people. And he has the sense to use it for a better cause in his own unique way.

Additionally, a really nice review on Rediff (with its army of great reviewers)

here

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