Ek Mutthi Aasmaan
Credit for all pictures go to their uploaders! (Thank you for some great pics!)
Zee TV’s Ek Mutthi Aasmaan (A Handful of Sky) started airing in August, 2013 and has aired about 240 episodes to date. The drama centers around the plight of a hardworking Bai (Kamla Jadhav) who has spent the past two decades working in another person’s home so that she can support her family. She is married to Vitthal and has one son named Pakiya. When she gives birth to a daughter, she decides that her daughter will never work for another person in such a lowly position. Her daughter will be someone big; she will be someone other people will call ma’am. Ek Mutthi Aasmaan is a story about that Bai’s dream of her daughter becoming someone big. Or at least it used to be.
I started watching the drama after the children grew up, and watched the initial episodes in recap form, so I only have a vague idea of what happened before episode 94. This will be a review of the first 240 episodes. While I will still keep track of the drama in a general way, but for reasons discussed below, I will no longer be watching it too closely unless something drastically changes. The drama up until now gets a 5 out of 10 (for the chemistry between Raghav and Kalpi).
Kamla and Vitthal live in a chawl, created by a rich individual, Mr. Singhania, for his factory workers. Mr. Singhania loses his money (?) and the workers lose their jobs. Vitthal, who has a wife and son to support, is suddenly without work and is unable to find anything else. Kamla then goes to work as a “Bai”, meaning a nanny cum housekeeper for the Kapoors. She is pregnant with another child, who is born on the same day as her employer’s daughter. Kamla names her child Kalpana. Neetu Kapoor names her daughter Paakhi.
Because Neetu is unable to feed her daughter, Kamla is not only a nanny, but she becomes Paakhi’s wet nurse. Both Kalpi and Paakhi are raised together, and Kamla comes to see Paakhi as her daughter. Due to that perception, she always unconsciously treats Paakhi better than Kalpi. During one such incident, the two girls are drowning and Kamla rescues Paakhi instead of Kalpi (who is left to struggle until her father comes to her rescue). Due to Kamla’s behavior, Kalpi has a complex about Paakhi and always feels as if her mother loves Paakhi more. But Kamla does have big dreams for Kalpi, wanting her daughter to grow up educated and working over people, not under them.
Mr. Singhania dies (Vitthal is briefly fingered as the murderer) and his son, Raghav Singhania, comes to live with the Kapoors. The Kapoors only want his wealth, of which Raghav is aware. Raghav briefly bonds with Kamla (whom he calls Kamla Ma) and Kalpi. He rescues Kalpi when she is framed as a thief by Prem Kapoor, a young sociopath in the making. He helps her with her homework and gives her an abacus. He also gifts her with a pen, which Kamla then forces Kalpi to give to Paakhi because Paakhi wants it. Ultimately, Raghav is able to escape due to Kamla and Vitthal’s help and leaves the country.
Due to circumstances, Kalpi is manipulated by Neetu into working for her as a Bai. When Kamla witnesses this, she sends Kalpi off to boarding school, refusing to let her daughter ever get entrapped in this kind of life. Kalpi begs to stay with her family, but Kamla coldly separates them for her own good.
The show then took a ten year leap, and we come back to find the girls all grown up and about to graduate college. Here we have the entry of Rachana Parulkar as Kalpana AKA Kalpi, Shirina Singh as Paakhi AKA Pooki and Ashish Chowdhry as Raghav Singhania.
Raghav comes back into the country for the sole purpose of getting revenge on the Kapoors, whom he believes guilty of his father’s murder and for other assorted reasons. His revenge takes the shape of going after Sahil Kapoor’s weakness, Paakhi.
Kalpana and Paakhi make a bet about coming first in their final college exams. Despite coming late and missing part of her exam, Kalpana thinks that she did well. When the results come out, Kalpana is shocked to learn that she has failed her exams. Kalpana tries to get the college to reevaluate her exams, but is then publicly accused of bribing the examiners. Kalpana’s reputation is ruined. At the same time, Paakhi is first place in the university and gets her dream job working at Singhania’s company. We learn that Kalpana’s ruination has been brought about by one of our resident psychos, Neetu Kapoor.
Kalpana begins to look for work, with the danger that if she doesn’t get a job in 48 hours, she will have to marry the man her grandmother chooses. Kalpana takes on the first job she can get, which happens to be as a waitress. When Kamla sees her serving the Kapoors at the restaurant, she freaks out once more and goes and begs Raghav for a job for Kalpi. He agrees to do so, realizing that he owes her for her help years ago.
On her first day of work, Kalpana finds out that she is Paakhi’s assistant, not a supervisor like she believed. Other employees laugh at her, mocking her for not even graduating college. Kalpana swallows her pride and begins working, but she does challenge Raghav first. She tells him that she will either be promoted in 30 days or she will leave her employment at his company.
Kalpi begins doing a great job. She does her work. Makes the coffee. She also rescues their project when the Kapoors steal their idea due to Paakhi’s carelessness. Rather than congratulating her, Raghav keeps his distance and refuses to take her on a trip for the next step of their project.
Due to an accident, Kalpi does get to go to Ali Baag., where Raghav and Kalpi are the victim of a carjacking and are left alone in a jungle. The two argue and Kalpi resigns. Kalpi then goes her way and almost drowns when her dupatta gets caught on something in the water. Raghav rescues her, and she then rescues him from the leeches sucking away at him. The two spend the night together, with Kalpi holding Raghav in her arms. (Really not as sexy as it sounds.)
When they eventually get back to the office, Kalpi attempts to resign once more but Raghav prevents it, because he realizes that he wants her near him. He begins to see Kalpi everywhere, even when he is romancing Paakhi for revenge purposes.He knows that he has feelings for Kalpi, but he wants his revenge too badly to give in to these feelings.
During an office party, Raghav confesses that he loves Kalpi to who he thinks is Paakhi. (It made no sense to me either.) When he realizes that he has accidentally confessed to the wrong woman, he decides to follow through with it, knowing that he does love Kalpi. He starts his pursuit of Kalpi in earnest. He demands an answer from her. Kalpi initially fights her misgivings, unsure of how they can be together when they belong in two different worlds. The two clash over their differences, but eventually reconcile. Kalpi gives in and admits that she loves him too.
The two arrange their marriage. And despite an unbelievable sequence where Kalpi’s family does not know who the groom is, the two get engaged. On the day of their marriage, Raghav comes late. Raghav had missed an earlier appointment, letting Kalpi down, but it had turned out that he was working on getting Kalpi’s scores reevaluated, which resulted in Kalpi graduating with top honors. Kalpi believes that Raghav is late on the day of their wedding for another such reason.
Up until the moment that Paakhi comes up in bridal ware and cheerfully says that she has married Raghav Singhania.
Raghav apologizes to Kalpi, saying that he had to do it to get his revenge. He explains that he met his mother on his way to the temple. He took her home, got her treated and told her to go on her way. She recognized him and explained everything the Kapoors had done. She tells him Sahil and Neetu Kapoor manipulated his father into thinking that she was having an affair, got her kicked out and then killed his father. When Gauri witnessed this, they tried to grab her, but she was hit by a car and got amnesia. When Gauri came to the Kapoor’s attention years later, via Kamla, they drugged her up and kept her confined in their home. She had just escaped.
She then demands that Raghav get revenge on the Kapoors. Raghav immediately proposes to Paakhi, gets the Kapoors to sign over their property and then marries Paakhi all in half a day.
Kalpi tells Raghav to leave. Vitthal then beats the heck out of Raghav and is barely stopped from killing him due to Kamla fainting. Kamla later on slaps Raghav and says that what he has done is worst than what the Kapoors have done. The Kapoors (Sahil, Prem, Neetu and Paakhi), who are sociopaths, killers, kidnappers, child abusers, corporate spies, who use drugs to control people, and sexually assault people are better than Raghav Singhania. (As you can see, Kamla is often wrong.) Kamla also accuses Raghav of only ever hurting Kalpi, forgetting how often she has hurt her own daughter.
Raghav immediately kicks out Sahil and Neetu Kapoor upon moving into the family home and brings mommy dearest with him. He allows Paakhi to stay since she did nothing wrong. Kamla takes the Kapoors home with her, convinces Vitthal to let them stay, and then waits on them hand and foot.
Kalpi eventually forgives Raghav and he puts sindoor in her maang, telling her that he has married her in the eyes of God. She tells him that she’ll wait for him for a year (the year that he promised his mother before he can divorce Paakhi), but they will not see each other. Despite their plans, the two quite often meet and stare soulfully into each others eyes.
Kamla tries to get in the way of every single meeting, calling him names and guilting Kalpi about the duty that she owes her parents above anything. She talks to Paakhi about making this marriage succeed, knowing the man doesn’t love Paakhi. She even invites Paakhi into her home on her daughter’s birthday and then to dinner with her hubby, where her daughter can serve them. (Like I said, Kamla is often wrong-headed.)
Paakhi finds out the truth about Kalpi and Raghav’s temple wedding and pretends to be okay with it in front of Raghav. We then see her transform behind his back into a little monster. She was initially a spoiled brat who wanted Kalpi’s pretty pen. She grew up into a naive, rich girl, who thought that everything just went her way by luck (like being top in the uni or winning Raghav). Her current transformation is into a sociopath who decides that her desire override everyone else’s feelings. (She ably proves that it is Kapoor blood that runs in her veins.)
She plays Kamla Ma and Raghav by pretending to be sick. She cooks for Raghav, trying to show him how good of a wife she is. She has made a deal with Gauri, Raghav’s mother, behind Raghav’s back to ensure that Raghav can’t escape her clutches. She belittles Kamla Ma and Kalpi, calling them from the slums, people that live in the streets, hungry for money and someone only able to get a rickshaw, because that is their standard. She rewrites history so that she is the victim who had to give everything up for Kalpi and share everything with Kalpi. Notice how she doesn’t remember that they were Kalpi’s mother/fiance first. She then reminds Kalpi she can’t just claim ownership of everything that she wants (insert eye roll here). Finally, she asks Kalpi did Kalpi ever think about Paakhi before marrying Raghav. (My eyeballs almost developed a strain here from all the eye rolls I was doing.)
Paakhi then begins to take any and all opportunities to injure Kalpi.
Paakhi’s coup d’etat is to drug Raghav and get him into bed. The show is quick to disabuse us of the notion that anything happened, because in the very next episode Paakhi discloses the non-consummation to Kalpi. Raghav is guilted into believing that something did happen because Paakhi was good enough to strip both him and herself for the morning after. I don’t believe that anything but the fact that Raghav probably couldn’t perform under the influence kept Paakhi from completing the act of rape that she had begun. I don’t throw that word around easily, but I do believe that even if the act was not completed, Paakhi did sexually assault Raghav.
His behavior the next day was kind of evidence of how guilty he felt, and the poor guy even apologized to Paakhi! He immediately confesses to Kalpi about his behavior and apologizes again.
Previously, Kamla found out the truth about Paakhi’s two-faced behavior and collusion with Gauri and tried to warn Raghav. Raghav had too much faith in his mother, whom he hadn’t seen in 10+ years and his brand new friend, Paakhi. I did like Kamla’s line here about how feeding a rich person’s child is like feeding a snake; both of them will bite you when they grow up. After learning the truth, Kamla finally begins to change. She apologizes to Kalpi and explains the drowning incident, where she wasn’t heading for Paakhi, she just reached Paakhi first. She also vows to support Kalpi and Raghav from now on.
The second time, Kalpi is smart enough to record Paakhi’s confession regarding her collusion with Raghav’s mother and about their not quite consummation. She shows it to Paakhi and gloats about he she will immediately tell Raghav. That gloating, I believe, will be her downfall.
And the story continues…
I don’t watch many Indian dramas, and I try to stay away from anything still airing and this drama proves why I should continue doing that.
This drama is a soap opera. And like any other soap opera it moves forward at a snail’s pace. It takes forever to get to its point and those points are pretty irrational. The directions this story is taking is totally ridiculous, but not too surprising based on what I have seen of Indian dramas. Main conflict between the classes? Their class differences. Have the rich people think they are better because of the wealth they earned, stole, inherited. Have the lower class have a complex about it. Our main couple getting married? Have the marriage interrupted or have the hero marry someone else, and not just anyone else but our heroine’s enemy. Run out of crazy stuff to do… amnesia is your answer! Disliking the actor or they have to leave? Accident and face surgery and a brand new actor! Which is exactly what the plan is for our dear Kalpana. An accident. Amnesia. A face change. And a brand new actress to take Rachana’s place for reasons still yet unknown. And a lighter-skinned beauty to replace our dark beauty.
Before anything, I have to admit that the most important part for me in any story is the romance. Kalpi’s and Raghav’s romance is what started me watching this drama. The first scene I saw was them at the store buying a sari for Kalpi’s engagement party, and I saw how different they looked and yet they were together. I wondered what was going on. I started watching different scenes and was quickly pulled in. My favorite part of this was how Raghav had all these plans and tried to keep Kalpi away, but she still found a place in his heart. While he accidentally confessed, he pursued her relentlessly. He changed himself for her. He became a better man. And that is the most beautiful thing about love. This show had a beautiful relationship. And then it cruelly destroyed it.
Despite the fact that the show was taking a route that was completely unwelcome, it would have been fine if the show had made changes that were organic to the characters themselves and organic to the story. Not only did the writers change the story just for ratings, it changed the personalities of the characters in such a way that we had whole new characters with the same names.
Raghav Singhania used to be a strong, decisive man. He was a professional, he had charisma, and he was a man who loved completely. Now, post marriage, we have a weakling. He became a man who gave up his woman, let himself be manipulated by Paakhi/Gauri, and pretty much stopped working. He lost what made him Raghav Singhania. Our ultimate cynic begins to blindly trust people like Gauri and Paakhi, without ever thinking about the danger he is putting both himself and the ones he actually loves (Kalpi!) in. The man put himself in a position where he was almost raped! He is becoming too much like Kamla.
We see another shift in Paakhi’s character. Her full blown sociopathic tendencies come to the forefront and she turns on anyone who would endanger her non-existent relationship with Raghav Singhania. Not an organic change when we haven’t seen a hint of this from before. Transforming from a spoiled brat into a sociopath is not a natural progression unless we had seen some hints of this. She was too sweet to change so drastically.
And the saddest change of all is what we see in Kalpana Jadhav. She was a strong woman. She had a dream and was working towards that dream. She was defensive and had a complex about rich people, but she was also compassionate, smart and creative. Nothing could keep her down for long. Not even the fact that her mother had put another before her for her entire life. She rescued herself, not needing a man to swoop in and save her. And then she was jilted at the altar and betrayed by the man she loved. She became a crybaby after that. She became a second wife. And she listened to everyone berate her and allowed herself to be slapped! Her pride has disappeared and her dreams are no longer her dreams. She only does this so she can make her parents proud (not a valid reason).
On the other hand, Kamla’s change has been a natural progression. She has finally seen the light, and I do like how much more human she is. I like how she is becoming a true mother to Kalpana. I like how she is acting intelligently for a change.
The acting in the drama has been okay so far. It’s a mixed bag. Shilpa Shirodkar tends to overact, and in the scenes that she was going off on Kalpi for betraying Paakhi, I just wanted her to calm down. And Shirina Singh is trying. Ashish Chowdhry and Rachana Parulkar have been doing a good job. And I really like Tuhina Vohra’s acting. She’s playing this evil character, but I love how she plays Neetu Kapoor! You can almost see how much fun she is having with her character.
It is the writing and the behind the scenes politics that have let all of us down.
It’s a brave new world and social media has a HUGE place in it. When Paakhi and Raghav got married, the fans were enraged and showed their displeasure by going to Twitter and Facebook. They tweeted, emailed and called the creative team and the channel itself. Actors responded back in an unprofessional manner (about how Ragna (Raghav+ Kalpana) is nothing and that fans should stop watching if they didn’t like the story) and a lot of hard feelings were created due to a large part of the audience’s love for Ragna. This in itself is disappointing. Fans watch shows because they get attached to the story and the characters we come to see as real people. To be told to get over it and move on was like a slap in the face and not the best PR move. Whether related or not, this has now caused the creative team to change the actress playing Kalpana. Rachana Parulkar got kicked off of the show because of her “bad” acting (ridiculous) and not one actor (besides Ashish) even bothered sending a farewell tweet. It’s really sad when you can’t even bother pretending to care. Finally, for an actor to be told they are being fired after a replacement has been found and just a few days before you have to leave is as if kids are running this show. (Actually no, that’s an insult to children.) I don’t know why fans put up with this.
Finally, the fact that we don’t get to see a reunion between our Kalpi and Raghav will prevent me from even getting the closure I need for these beloved characters. Call me shallow, but the face is important. I got attached to Rachana’s Kalpi and it will be really hard to adjust to a new face.
The drama started out with a clear message. Dream a dream and you have the right to make it a reality, despite where you stand in life. But the drama has devolved into the same old cliched tropes and I can only mourn what could have been. While the class differences issues is so tired, I was looking forward to a lower class person reaching new heights, but that’s fallen by the wayside. Whatever we see will be constructed of the same old cliches, wrapped in the channel’s and creative team’s favorite “soap opera” flavor.
Additionally, I also did not like how Kamla and Vitthal were forcing Kalpana to be this ma’am. While it’s true that this is the issue all parents have, where they dream for their kids and force those dreams on them, the drama never directly addresses how unfair that was to Kalpi. Kalpana has become a creature that can never be comfortable anywhere. Her origins will never allow her to live comfortably in the upper classes because they won’t let her forget where she is from. Her life at school/her education will never allow her to be comfortable with just living in a lower class chawl. Additionally, why is Kamla so quick to say that her dreams for her daughter prevent Kalpi from loving, marrying, or even learning how to cook? Kalpi become a creature that can never find a place of true comfort. And how unfair was Kamla’s behavior to Pakiya, who is largely ignored, forgotten, and treated as the redheaded stepchild. Pakiya hasn’t gone to school and can’t find a job. And yet, neither Kamla nor Vitthal seem to care.
Finally, I definitely do not like how this drama has defined what good is. Kamla Jadhav is “good”, but that means sacrificing herself and her family for everyone else. That means blindly trusting people. That means letting herself be trodden upon by everyone else. Kamla doesn’t open her eyes until she actually hears the truth with her own ears. The drama needs to get out of the 19th century and come into modern times. Being good no longer means being stupid or a martyr! How about showing us some clever/good people who can fight for their rights? Intelligence doesn’t have to be a mutually exclusive thing, you know.
While the chemistry was amazing between Raghav and Kalpana, everything else has become a disappointment. And that is the reason why I’m going to have to give up on this drama. My blood pressure couldn’t handle it.