The Tribune - Spectrum

Sunday, September 30, 2001

The million-dollar name behind Dollar Bahu
Arshiya Kapadia

Scene from Dollar Bahu
Scene from Dollar Bahu

THE United States of America. The land of milk and honey. The land of golden dreams. And the land of the dollar. Somewhere down the years, the USA has become an ambition. It has become an aspiration for those who want greener and lusher pastures and think that the USA embodies it all. But is it really like that? Is it all milk and honey without any drawbacks? Is it all as good as itís made out to be ? Does the USA really make all your impossible dreams come true?

Dollar Bahu, a new serial on Zee TV, will unravel all these questions and more. Produced by Sunil Hali of Cinemaya media (USA) and directed by Ajai Sinha (Hasratein, Samay), Dollar Bahu is based on a Kannada novel by Sudha Murthy. The serial is shot across continents; India and the USA and at some point the producers hope to shoot-in Pakistan too. According to Sunil, "It is the first serious venture on television that will reach a global audience of more than two hundred million through the Zee TV network. The subject has a strong appeal for people across all three continents because of its unique concept."

Written by Sudha Murthy (wife of Narayan Murthy of Infosys), the story has a common thread that most Indians will identify with. Dollar Bahu portrays the struggle of a middle-class family to graduate into an upper-class one through their son in the USA.


Himani Shivpuri with Sudha Murthy, on whose novel the serial is based
Himani Shivpuri with Sudha Murthy, on whose novel the serial is based

"Itís the story of a mother-in-law who thinks the Indian daughter-in-law is not as good as her counterpart in the USA ó the Dollar Bahu who lives in the golden land. The mother-in-law craves to be with her son in America and later when she herself spends a year there, she realises that the problems most Indian-Americans face in the USA are similar to those back home and that the grass is not always greener on the other side," says Murthy. Murthy explains that the novel is based on her observations of Indians in America and Indians in India, and the mother-in-law (played by Himani Shivpuri) is the protagonist of her novel. "I am happy that my characters are going to start living and breathing through the serial," beams Murthy.

Dollar Bahu will also give insight about the large, prominent and growing South Asian community in the USA. The serial shows the struggle of Indian immigrants in the USA and the clash of both cultures; one inherent and Indian, the other alien and American.

Sunil Hali himself has been in the USA since 1987 and has interacted with the South Asian community at close quarters. His observations and impressions about South Asians will be reflected in the soap through the interpersonal relationships of the major characters.

Says Sunil, "This is a very important aspect of the serial and another is that we have depicted that the communities have plenty in common and work very closely, socialise, share family happenings and everything else in America. In fact, it is a very healthy relationship and almost clear of political adversity back home." If the serial gets permission to shoot in Pakistan later, it will be the first serial to be shot in India, America and Pakistan.

Dollar Bahu stars Himani Shivpuri, Rakesh Pandey, Mayoori Kango, Chandni Toor, Ismael Bashi, Kunika, Deepak Parashar etc. in prominent roles. ó INFS

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