Kis Desh Mein Hai Mera Dil (In What Country/Place is My Heart?), Part I

So, I’ve currently been watching an Indian Soap (showed on StarPlus), called Kis Desh Mein Hai Mera Dil? (meaning In What Country/Place is My Heart?) The show aired from March of 2008 to February of 2010. The drama stars an ensemble cast, with the main leads being played by Harshad Chopra (who plays Prem) and Additi Gupta (who plays Heer). In Hindi, Prem actually means love, and Heer means diamond. Prem, supposedly, only knows to love. And Heer is a diamond that anyone would be lucky to have. These two unite in matrimony, and take care of their family and put their family above everyone else, even themselves and each other. It’s another thing that the “family” is actually Prem’s family, and two out of the seven family members hate Heer and make her life hell.

This drama, I would have to say, is your typical Indian soap. There is romance, fighting, murder, faked deaths, faked amnesia, misunderstood characters, manipulative mother-in-laws, crazy sister-in-laws, trusting men who are easily manipulated, and self-sacrificing daughter-in-laws. And, despite all of that, I enjoyed watching the drama because of its main leads, and because of Prem’s brother Preet (beautifully played by Sushant Singh Rajput). I have never seen the kind of loyalty that Preet has to his brother, and his sister-in-law. He is unswayed by other’s opinions, he protects them, he teases them, and he worships the ground these two walk on. I loved his character in the show, and it was not surprising that he was killed off in a story arc at the end of the show, because when do good things happen to good people in soaps?

The show is too long, so that I cannot efficiently summarize what exactly happens, but I can attempt to give you an idea of the story. The entire show is available on Youtube, so check it out if you have the time.

The story begins with a young village girl (Heer Maan), who has been engaged to her father’s best friend’s son since before she hit puberty. She is a simple girl, and wants to make her parents happy above all. She doesn’t think twice about questioning her engagement to a man she has never seen. On the other side, we have Prem Juneja, a man who has grown up in Canada, yet has no problem agreeing to a marriage his father decided on years ago, because his parents are the most important thing to him. Next to them, his happiness means nothing. Prem returns to India with his family, only to find out that Heer and her entire family have supposedly perished in an accident. Now, here, instead of releasing Prem from his promise, his father forces him to agree to marry his best friend’s niece, thinking to appease his best friend’s soul in this way. The thing they don’t know is that Heer and her sister, Mehar, are actually alive and well. Their deaths are a lie perpetuated by an evil aunt, who wants to marry her daughter off to the rich Prem Juneja.

Prem meets Heer. Falls in love with her. And, eventually, runs off with her. He loves his father, but he cannot watch Heer marry a mentally challenged man. Prem regrets hurting his father, but he has made a promise to Heer. During a storm, Lalit Juneja, Prem’s father, realizes the truth and is ready to give his blessing to the couple. Heer does not know this, and pretends to have amnesia so that Prem can be free to go back to his family. Heer sneaks out one night, and Prem goes after her. At the train station, Lalit helps Prem convince Heer to stay. Heer and Prem reunite and Lalit gives them his blessing.

Before Heer and Prem can marry, Prem supposedly dies in a bomb blast. Despite all ghostly visitations and dead bodies that look just like Prem, Prem turns out to be alive, but suffering from Amnesia. He recovers from his amnesia in time to save Heer from marriage to a man bent on destroying the Juneja family. The audience then finds out that the man Heer married is not Prem Juneja, but is actually someone masquerading as him for money. As the story moves along, we are now told that no … it actually is Prem Juneja, but he is dying of a disease. And then, that turns out to be a lie. Prem is actually whole and healthy. Prem and Heer reunite.

The story continues. Just as Prem and Heer consummate their relationship, Prem’s evil sister Veera comes home with tales about her husband’s abuse. Because Veera’s husband is Heer’s long-lost brother, Nihal, Heer is kicked out of the house in retaliation. Preet and Heer’s sister work diligently to reunite the two. Eventually, Prem realizes that while he must respect his mother, his wife is his responsibility, too. He brings Heer back home. They reunite. This action causes Prem’s (step)mother to hate Heer, to be jealous of her, and to decide on destroying her son’s relationship with Heer.

Stepmother succeeds. She manipulates Prem into thinking that Heer is having an affair, who then goes to confront Heer. Prem then gets drunk and falls in bed with another woman. The audience knows that nothing happened, but the characters don’t. Heer leaves.

Six years later, the two meet again. Prem finds out that Heer had a daughter that she named Chahat. At this point, we see an angry and bitter Heer. She has been hardened by Prem’s betrayal, and wants nothing to do with him. This was a nice change in character from the crying martyr she was before. Prem pursues Heer (knowing that he cannot live without her any longer), and Heer eventually forgives him. They reunite.

Stepmother is still trying to separate the two, and Heer doesn’t tell Prem about this. Of course, she has reverted to the “good” daughter-in-law she was before. Prem is still easily manipulated and explodes at Heer multiple times. The woman that Prem supposedly slept with comes back into their lives. That is when the truth comes out regarding Prem’s infidelity. After all of this, Prem and Heer’s main supporter, Preet, is killed. There then follows a plot regarding evil new husband, kidnapping, and the truth coming out. The story ends with the Juneja family mourning those they have lost, and being hopeful about the future.

The drama is your typical Indian soap, like I said above. It is the actors that make it worth watching. And that, only when you have the entire show available and you can skim through all of the boring parts. I enjoyed watching most of it, I love the video mixes that people have made of this drama,but I do not agree with the message that this drama has. I do not like how the writers/directors/producers glorify the sacrificing woman and the obedient child. I’d like to see a drama where they show that it is okay to stand up for yourself or that parents can be wrong. I’d love to see a drama with a “good” heroine that isn’t either quiet, crying, or self-sacrificing. This isn’t just a problem with Indian Soaps, dramas from other Asian countries (like Pakistan and Korea) have the same problem.

I also did not like cardboard characters, inconsistency in characters, and missing characters that was prevalent throughout the story. For example, we know that Veera is there to be evil, and she was. But just when her character started getting some depth, the writers killed her off! That was annoying, just because it seemed that her character was there just to drive the plot. Then, we had the big changes in Stepmother and father’s characters. At the beginning stepmother was good and father bad, and at the end it was decided that stepmother would be evil and father good. Where did all the love that stepmother felt for her stepson go? I hated that inconsistency in her character. Finally, I so did not enjoy how they got rid of Nihal (Heer’s brother)? Whatever happened to the poor guy?

Despite all of that, I think that Harshad Chopra and Additi Gupta did great jobs as Prem and Heer. Additi was a bit raw at the beginning, but she grew as an actress. Her acting was superb in the scenes where she discovers that Prem is dead, and as she grapples with that reality. Harshad is a natural actor, and I found it easy to believe that he was Prem. No matter who he was acting with, you could feel the love that Prem had for that character. While the character of Prem was inconsistent, that was the fault of the writing, not the actor. Prem and Heer have great chemistry, and I would love to see them in another drama together.

I am going to do a post on the things I learned about Indian soaps from this drama, and the things I learned not to do in life from this soap. It’s not a straight summary, but I do discuss big elements of the plot of this drama. Read it and let me know what you guys think.

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