A young boy and a little girl come face-to-face for the first time on the subway and manage to give each other tentative smiles before they are whisked away by their respective parents. Years later they bump into each other once again in the subway and this time decide to take matters into their own hands, or at least Dharma does. When Greg, who is a district attorney, reaches his office still moping about the fact that he didn’t have the courage to stop and say ‘Hi’ to this beautiful girl he met on the subway, he finds Dharma waiting for him, comfortably ensconced on his table – his picture was in the paper that day. They go out on a date there and then and by the time the sun goes down, they are married.
This is where the story really begins. You see, Dharma is a flower child, a daughter of free-thinking parents who are still living the hippie lifestyle. The name Dharma is actually supposed to be derived from the Indian word ‘Dharam‘, a term that means one or all of the following – duty, religion, responsibility and morality. Although Dharma is loud and impulsive, she is also shown to be a kind, trusting, honest and perceptive individual. Greg on the other hand belongs to a rich, snooty and rigid political family with not a whiff of ‘free thinking’ to cloud their minds. Coming from a privileged and protected background, he is not always comfortable with situations that he does not understand and is not so open to trusting other people. However, he loves Dharma unconditionally and is willing to submit to her will on most topics. What follows this unlikely partnership is a hilarious mix of misunderstandings or complete discord between the two sets of parents and also Dharma and Greg as they struggle with the differences in their ideologies and beliefs. Dharma and Greg were the quintessential example of ‘opposites attract’, a maxim that every girl held close to her heart in those days – the days before internet had become a household luxury and we were still relatively innocent and naive. In a perfect couple, the girl was supposed to be bubbly, outgoing and a mounhphat (outspoken/a person who blurts out what he/she is thinking/ forthright), whereas the guy was supposed to be the strong, silent, slightly bewildered and completely bewitched by her type.
Dharma and Greg was the perfect romantic comedy for an Indian teenager at the time it was released in 1997. It fuelled fantasies of walking in from work one day and telling your parents you had met your soul-mate and married him in the few hours you were out of the house. Strangely, the face of this mystery man was never clear in these fantasies, but the faces of mom and dad were always crystal! It was impossible to imagine anyone like Dharma’s parents in real life, with such a carefree and trusting outlook on people and life, except on the ‘establishment’ – loosely used to represent anything related to the government. Greg’s parents were actually more Indian in their outlook, although definitely more restrained! Although, I suppose, if Greg’s mother was not prone to drinking so much she may well have had a histrionic reaction on par with that of most Indian mothers whose sons brought home a daughter-in-law of another class/caste.
After all these years, Romedy Now , a channel dedicated to bringing you a daily dose of romantic comedy, presents the reruns of Dharma and Greg once again. How is it that nobody thought of this concept before, considering that most of us have friends, sisters, younger brothers, girlfriends, wives, husbands or daughters who are suckers for stuff like this? Every woman who was a teen in 1997 is sure to watch the series with a sigh of nostalgia, dreaming of the days when you waited to meet your soul-mate for the very first time. Greg played by Thomas Gibson was of course the perfect example of what a man should be – loving, loyal and easily manipulated. The men will probably just watch it for the beautiful Dharma played by Jenna Elfman. Dharma and Greg was the first comedy to turn an expletive, ‘shut up’, to a cute greeting among friends, which quickly became the cool catchphrase for all girls in high school. There were tense moments all around when you forgot yourself and said this to your mother at home until she realised it was the new phase, usually after administering a blistering tirade, and forgave you.
There is nothing like the old-time comedies to wish away the stress of your daily commute and work. They are a reminder of the times when things were simpler, although New York in 1997 feels pretty much like India today what with mobile phones and subways and lots of people around. Maybe they are just a reminder of when we were young and of first impressions that shaped our likes and dislikes. Or when going to school and homework were the biggest burdens on our heads. Whatever the excuse, a smile and a laugh on Romedy Now at no great cost are preferable to me rather than the disturbing and often scary new-age vampire and zombie sagas airing on most channels every evening.
So go ahead, kick up your heels and cuddle up on your sofa for an evening with Dharma and Greg at 7:30 p.m. on weekdays at Romedy Now and laugh your weekday evenings away. You can follow Romedy NOW for more information to their sitcom lineups at http://www.facebook.com/RomedyNOW or tweet them @Romedy NOW.