New Delhi: A popular sitcom of the 1980s, Wagle Ki Duniya, which comically narrated the travails of an Indian middle class life, is now on television in a new avatar. The channel Sony Sab has rebooted the sitcom as Wagle Ki Duniya — Nayi Peedhi, Naye Kissey.
The extremely popular 80s television show was based on characters created by noted cartoonist R.K. Laxman. The series, which was translated onto the screen by Kundan Shah and Ravi Ojha, depicted the everyday ordeals of the common man through the protagonist — Srinivas Wagle.
The 13-episode show Wagle Ki Duniya aired on DD National from 1988 to 1990. With an extremely relatable storyline, the show made its stars Aanjjan Srivastav and Bharati Achrekar household names.
The original show’s storyline featured the day-to-day struggles of the loveable middle class couple Srinivas and Radhika Wagle. While Srinivas was an ineffectual salesman in a multi-national company in Mumbai, Radhika was his patient sometimes exasperated wife.
The sitcom paid tribute to the trials of middle class life, with a narrative laced with relatable humour.
“Whenever someone mentions Wagle Ki Duniya, I only remember R.K. Laxman. Without him, there will be no Wagle. Laxmanji has created the character of the quintessential common man, the USP of the show,” Srivastav, who played show’s lead Srinivas, told ThePrint.
According to Usha Laxman, R.K. Laxman’s daughter-in-law, the new series is a tribute to the legendary cartoonist, on his centennial birth year.
The cartoonist was closely involved with the making of the original show. Bharati Achrekar noted that Laxman had memorised the entire script of the show and was very particular about how the actors portrayed his characters.
“We used to have our meeting at Durga Khote’s house, as it was Durga Khote Productions, and writer Ajay Kartik and director Kundan Shah would also be there. Laxman ji was a brilliant actor. He had the entire script in his mind and he used to enact every character and show their nuisances. We were mesmerised, totally. Because of his narration, it used to be easy for Ajay Kartik to write,” she said, in an interview to India Today.
She also said that once Laxman asked her to re-shoot an entire episode because he was not happy with her body language in it.
Achrekar added that with the new show, she was excited about exploring Radhika’s characters on her own terms.
Srivastav also noted how the original show was a lesson in acting for him. “The original series was a training period … it made me learn a lot that I have implemented throughout my career. The 13 episodes had spread out beautifully,” he told ThePrint.
Wagle Ki Duniya was also a stepping stone for many future superstars. Actor Shah Rukh Khan had made a guest appearance in one of the episodes before his foray into the world of Bollywood.
For viewers, the lessons on familial relationships and values that the show propagated through a humorous narrative were unforgettable. The beautifully crafted characters have since stayed with the audience, along with iconic moments from the sitcom.
Recalling how the entire family would watch the show, PR consultant Ishika Malhotra said, “The new show is actually a trip down memory lane … when our whole family would remain glued to the TV to watch the sitcom. I was a child then.”
New story about new middle class in new India
Now, Srivastav and Achrekar play family elders in the new Sony Sab reboot while Sumeet Raghavan plays the lead as Srinivas’s son, Rajesh Wagle, and Pariva Pranati plays his wife Vandana. The storyline has also been altered to portray the middle class experiences in New India.
Meanwhile, the new show’s lead Raghavan noted that the storyline was about the new middle class that has emerged over the years.
“Wagle Ki Duniya is a story about a middle class family, their aspirations and coming of age. Now, the son is taking over and his life is depicted. There is a new middle class that has developed over the years — it’s called the higher middle class. Rajesh Wagle represents that higher middle class,” Raghavan told ThePrint.
He added: “This show portrays the strong value system and humble upbringing of the middle-class of today, their daily life and issues.”
The new series, which began airing on 8 February, already has fans — those from the old show who have been excited in anticipation.
For PR consultant Malhotra, Wagle Ki Duniya – Nayi Peedhi, Naye Kissey is a story of how Indian middle class joint families strive to live together amid the chaos and hard economic conditions.
“The best part of the comeback is that the new series keeps the original structure intact. Wagle Ki Duniya has always remained iconic (even) now with the expansion of the family and the original lead cast still playing vital roles,” Malhotra said.
Others are also happy about the fact that the original essence of the show has remained intact in the reboot with Srivastav and Achrekar also part of it.
“Wagle Ki Duniya is the story of Indian middle class and the reboot has been well adapted to suit the aspirations and expectations of today’s middle class. The original sitcom was a hit, and now that its back on Sony SAB is extremely trilling. Aanjjan Srivastav and Bharati Achrekar being back on the new series has retained its original essence,” Akshita Agarwal, a school teacher based in Delhi, told ThePrint.