Monday, August 01, 2011

Things I learnt from Asian dramas

So I love Asian dramas. No, not the devoid-of-a-story-but-fraught-with-mindless-cliches, saas-bahu, angsty romance bullshit airing 24*7 on Indian channels. But the exquisitely shot, Japanese, Korean, Taiwanese/Mainland dramas wherein actors actually act without appearing like bumbling morons and production houses do not sign agreements with the glycerin industry to rake in TRPs.
Now even though these dramas are mostly awesome enough to hold your attention to the very end without being too lengthy(mostly consisting of 16-20 episodes) or annoying in parts they are not free of some typical cliches. Especially the dramas of the romance genre.
So here's a list of sorts:-

1.)The lead actress is always inevitably a scatterbrain who doesn't bother to dress well or try to look presentable. She is either a poor homeless woman trying to survive the harshness of life, a headstrong lass orphaned in childhood, a bit dumb or downright innocent. Although it turns out she does look quite hot with the requisite fashionable clothing and some make-up. (courtesy : Oh My Lady!, My Princess, Shining Inheritance)

Go Eun Sung, from Shining Inheritance
2.)Occasionally the female protagonist will be faced with a downright incredulous situation which requires her to bandage her breasts, cut her hair short, wear men's clothing and transform into her twin brother in an effort to join a boy-band or an all boys' school or for other similar lame reasons. (courtesy : Hana Kimi,  Coffee Prince, You're Beautiful ) And despite how obvious her disguise is, nobody, yes nobody, sees through her true identity....until of course at the very end where the male protagonist needs to know that the HE he likes is actually a SHE and hence he is not gay. Fun no?

Go Mi Nam from You're Beautiful. Did you for a second think this person is a HE?
3.)Apparently in Japan and Korea, it is the men who are stalked by psychotic women and not the other way round (usually). Even if the male protagonist has declared his undying love for the less-hot girl and spurned more than a million advances of the more-hot girl, she will continue to act like a bitch and pursue him relentlessly. She will also devise the most inane strategies ever (like creating silly misunderstandings) to ruin the credibility of the less-hot girl, come close to achieving success in that venture and then fail miserably in the end. Even though she should be slapped right out or beaten black and blue for all her misdeeds, the heroine is actually kind enough to understand her "heart" and show mercy in the end.

Oh Yoon Joo from My Princess, who made me want to wear 6-inch heels and land a  might kick on her annoying mug
Yoo He Yi from You're Beautiful, who deserved to be dropped in a water-body brimming with hungry sharks
4.)The male protagonists range from a rich chaebol (heir to a business empire), a resourceful lawyer, assassin in disguise, a dashing young man hell-bent on vengeance to a narcissistic actor/pop-idol who throws his weight around a bit too much to be taken for real. But irrespective of everything he MUST be hot. As in HOT with 6-pack abs, a perfect face, a complexion which gives rise to the suspicion he must get a facial done every 2 hours, over 6 feet tall always dressed impeccably in designer suits, sunglasses and accessories. His hotness must be enough to hypnotize any woman or gay man on earth. 
Believe me this is my most favorite cliche.

Park Hae Young from My Princess *DROOL*

Domyouji Tsukasa from Hana Yori Dango. *GOD that hair*

But occasionally he is also a bit of a goofball, like

Cha Dae Woong from My Girlfriend is a Gumiho
But since he is a cute goofball, I'll let it slide...

5.)Even if the guy who plays second lead, is waaay hotter than the main lead and treats the far-less-hot girl, with more compassion and sensitivity, she will ALWAYS ignore his gestures and continue to drool over the jerk who doesn't treat her well. He will try do everything to win her heart, be so sweet and nice, that watching him will make your heart break. But STILL she won't fall for him. Hah!

Kang Shin Woo from You're Beautiful. Do you fancy turning a blind eye to this man's advances? Sigh!
6.)Crazy fangirls mean life and death for our boy-bands and pop idols. Winning their approval for your girlfriend is more important that winning the approval of your family. Otherwise dude, you can kiss all that stardom goodbye. And it's anyone's guess how supportive they are of their love lives which,of course, doesn't involve them in any way.

7.)There will always be a crass and loud grandpa or grandma, to make life hell for you or your girlfriend/boyfriend. They will scream into your ears to make you see 'sense' even in the face of all hostilities. They'll fix your marriage to some girl you have never seen before, who is a complete bitch, to boot. And they will NOT back off even when told to do so repeatedly. They will nose into your business with a passion rivaling someone's who is about to give up his life for his motherland. Yes!

Grandma to Han Kyul in Coffee Prince. See what I mean?

8.)Something or the other has to go wrong in the last or the second-last episode of all dramas. Even if there have been enough conflicts already, which threaten to separate our lovey-dovey lead couple from the prospect of a hunky-dory, happily-ever-after-until-breakup ending, the last episode must in some way create a life-threatening one. Sometimes one character will be killed off quite unnecessarily in order to inflict mental anguish on the viewers. *sob sob*


Most of you must already be acquainted with Japanese movies like Ringu (The Ring), Ju-on (The Grudge movies), Chakushin Ari (One Missed Call) and Korean movies like My Sassy Girl, Old Boy, The Chaser, A Tale of Two Sisters and so on. For many of these have been remade into Hollywood blockbusters over the years. But I'm sure you are blissfully unaware of these dramas, most of which in my opinion, are even better than the movies. Not only are these dramas shot in beautiful locales, but the characterizations, story, plot and acting are top-notch as well. And the best part is they recount a story and don't stretch the plot beyond the point of tolerance like our desi serials do.

So don't let this post discourage you in any way. Believe me, when you do start watching them, you'll know what you were missing out on all this time.



shrutianime said...

Great post! I lol-ed at the cliche`s!
I found every one of them in the dramas I've seen as well!
Anyhow, all hail asian Dorama!

Nethra said...

Ah! I agree with you. The dramas are great even though there are few cliches that are followed ceremoniously.

Prateek said...

I read this post before it was published, almost.
Out of all My Girlfriend is a Gumiho is my favorite, perhaps because of the plot.

Purba said...

The Japanophile writes and has a willing accomplice (looks pointedly at Nethra).

Btw where do you watch these serials??

krutthivaasapriya said...

oh ....... so true :) loiked ur post ..........:)

Meera Sundararajan said...

You have inspired me now to watch Asian serials!! I think culturally these societies are not as melodramatic as ours and hence the ease with which the emotions are portrayed ( I like the fact that the heroine is not a "hot" beauty)! I have written a similar post on my blog about our Indian films- you might want to see that!

Shelina said...

I share the same views. Liked your blog very much.

Lakshmi Rajan said...

Its coz of yours and Nethra's Tweets I was aware of the existence of the J & K serials ;)(didn't knew of Taiwanese serials till now)

Don't drag the serials beyond our tolerance level sounds a relief, the serials my mom watches literally kills me everyday and dread the serial time :(

☆ ayu☆ said...

wahh i totally enjoyed this post !! :D

i laugh when you mentioned "Yoo He Yi from You're Beautiful, who deserved to be dropped in a water-body brimming with hungry sharks"

haha..totally agree!!! XD

SUB said...

i love the Korean movies...


Samadrita said...

@Shruti: Without any shadow of a doubt. All hail Asian dorama. :D

@Nethra: Sometimes the cliches make the doramas even better you know. :D

@Prateek: That was even my favorite re, possibly due to the fantasy genre and some awesome acting by Shin Min Ah.

@Purba di: You have to download and watch. Some sites also offer streaming videos of these dramas. I'll coax you into watching atleast one of them, on gtalk one day. :P oh btw it's me who got Nethra interested in Asian dramas. *proud*

@krutthivaasapriya: Thanks!

Samadrita said...

@Meera Sundarajan: Actually ma'am, culturally you'll find lots of similarities with these dramas and ours. The way we respect our parents, and value their consent in matters such as choice of marriage partner...and so on. But they're low on the histrionics and annoying factor whereas we score high on that point. You should definitely watch a few of these dramas. :-)

@Shelina: Glad. And thanks. :-)

@Lakshmi: I know. Serials continue for a thousand years with generation gaps and time leaps and what not. Absolute bullshit such serials are. But trust me these dramas are so good...especially the Korean portrayal of romance is exceptional. Subtly done. There are Taiwanese and Mainland Chinese dramas are as well, they're however not as good as the Japanese and Korean ones.

@ayu: Hehe I knew you'd like this post. *hi5*

@SUB: I know right? Korean horror and thriller movies are amazing.

Red Handed said...

Awesome read...they all luk the same to me I TELL YOU!!

Priyanka said...

-_- Somehow I never liked Asian movies, or any movies that I have to watch with subtitles..

But loved the way you have written this:P LOL..

Vamsi said...

After reading this, I seriously had no clue if I should or should not chuck the idea of watching dramas. You've mentioned all those terrible cliches that would make one run away from dramas and finally you say that they are worth watching. Please don't toy with our minds confusing us like this :P :P

Samadrita said...

@Red Handed: Haha actually they don't. Atleast not to me. And you have no idea how good-looking Japanese and Korean actors are, with a peaches and cream complexion and flawless skin to boot.

@Priyanka: Well movies are movies, good or bad depends on the subject matter, execution, acting, direction and similar such factors. Language is never a barrier as long as you've subtitles. I agree they're a bit difficult to follow in the beginning, but pretty soon you get used to them.

@Vamsi: You SHOULD watch them. I was just trying to write a funny post on some of the cliches. But c'mon you will find cliches even in shows like Friends or BONES or CSI and so on. These dramas are too good as I've already mentioned in the post. :D

☆ ayu☆ said...

hahaha!! yeah..even though i havent watch some of them..i really enjoyed this post! XD

RE: haha..yeah..most of the member sof the Dorama Club in FB..most were saying bad things about it.

actually since i already watched the ep. 2 , i can say its not so bad afterall..they really stick to the anime..(i havent read the manga so i dunno)..except for the constant appearance of nekozawa-senpai..lolz)

every scene almost made me of the advantage is it is only half an hour unlike usual dramas.

the only hate the exaggeration and graphical enhancement they put to make it more anime-ish.

♠ Tharangni ♠ said...

Man I really must admire you!!!
How can you get all the asian names right??!! I mean like, don't their faces look kinda similar/same?? and How do you pronounce the korean names!! O_O !!

Anonymous said...

That's easy. When you have the hots for something your mind will automatically remember their faces and names. It's one of the latent powers that gets awakened when you reach 'fan-girl' mode.

DIE HARD said...

I actually don't like romance dramas that much..somehow doesn't click with me. My genre of choice is mystery/thriller/suspense eg IRIS, Mao etc.

So I can relate to two of your cliches instantly, the hot male and earth shattering last episode. Fortunately I haven't had the pleasure of coming across the rest of the cliches thus far. :P

The biggest difference between Indian soap and Asian dramas:
In asian drama it will take roughly 5 mins at max to shoot someone.
In Indian dramas it will take 5 episodes just to take the gun out..including bombarding the viewer with all of the effects available in Photoshop, flashbacks, epic sad songs and, of course, detailed thesis on why the guy has to die.

Ardy Silverbullets said...

Go Mi Nam is very pretty.. ^^d
looks cool and sweet.. :)
how she was as beautiful as it is.

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