An Ode to K-Dramas and Why Bollywood Should Bring Back Authentic Feel-Good Romance

K-drama and Bollywood

Lately, I have ventured into watching Korean dramas. I have to admit I am completely hooked. I tried to stay away from K-dramas for the longest time, assuming it would be too cheesy for my liking. And honestly, the titles did not help.

But after watching just a few K-dramas over the past few months, I can confidently say – don’t judge a series by its name!

K-drama is anything but corny, cheesy, or cringe. It has well-crafted plots with impeccable, high quality writing. It’s admirable how much importance they place on everyday emotions. I now find it so wholesome, engaging, and fulfilling that I would advise anyone to watch at least one episode every day, especially if you’ve had a particularly draining day. A K-drama episode a day might just keep the doctor away.

The Korean dramas I tend to choose are solely focused on relationships because that is what I am craving at the moment. Over the past decade, I binge-watched several serious, abstract, intellectual, gory, and violent movies. The types that movie critics couldn’t stop raving about. And now I’ve had enough. I have reached a saturation point when it comes to reality-based cinema. Bring on the whimsical, captivating, addictive world of romance! I want to leave my troubles behind, I want to dream of a better world and romanticize about it.

As an Indian, I can’t help but wonder what happened to the quintessential feel-good romantic Yash Raj-esque movies? Why have we stopped making them? They used to perform incredibly well at the box office and are still cherished. DDLJ has been on a running spree for decades in Mumbai, with no end in sight. Which other genre can boast of having a similar impact on the audience? We can’t get enough of the charming Raj or the dreamy-eyed Simran. My friends reminisce about the etherealness of Chandni and the intoxicating love of Veer Zara. Forget Yash Chopra movies. Even a dark project like Dil Se had its share of aesthetically pleasing love-packed moments. Not to forget the playful mischief enacted by the lead actors with full gusto. A quirky Preeti (played by Preity Zinta) asks Amar (portrayed by the king of romance Shah Rukh Khan), “Are you a virgin?” which catches him off-guard, like the rest of us. We loved the dialogue, the crackling chemistry, and the freshness of it all.

Personally, my favorite Bollywood pair is Konkona and Ranbir in Wake Up Sid. The romantic angle was offbeat – a young guy in his 20s falling for an older working woman. You might think this unconventional pairing might not work, but they proved their detractors wrong. The chemistry was bang-on, scenes were memorable, dialogues were fun and thoughtful, and it boasted of the right mix of profoundness and escapism. You fell in love with the characters. It was difficult not to.

Romantic stories used to sell big in Bollywood. So this sudden shift from romance to violence and trauma-inducing reality cinema is unreasonable. The ones that Bollywood does end up making nowadays have no soul and are almost, for the lack of a better word – “cringe.” They lack emotional intensity and nuance. It is difficult to connect with the characters and delve into their world. A sign of a compelling romantic story is when you find yourself developing an emotional connection with the characters. Their love feels like your love. You want to hug them when they are sad, cheer for them when their passion gets reciprocated, or blush when romance is in the air. This holds true whether you are reading a book or watching a movie. If this feeling is missing, the story fails to make a mark.

It is not that India has stopped indulging in romantic stories entirely. We get to witness some well-made series on OTT, such as Mismatched and Little Things. They have done well, proving that there is an audience out there for authentic Hindi romantic sagas.

I thought I would have to resort to books for my kind of romance. Still, lo and behold, I was introduced to the world of K-drama, where everything is just as mushy and glossy as it used to be in Bollywood.

What makes K-drama so different from regular Bollywood movies released nowadays?

Focus is on emotions and feelings

Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha Romance
Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha

Those stolen glances, broad smiles, and yearning looks are what makes K-drama so swoon-worthy. While Bollywood has moved to a more lusty “fast food” kind of romance, Korean drama still hangs on to the original slow-cooked YRF magic with a tight leash. Why stop making something that is doing well?

Stories for the soul

Crash Landing On You Romance
Crash Landing On You

We all know romantic movies are a world of make-believe, and we can’t possibly expect all of that sweet idealism to seamlessly transfer into our everyday lives. It’s not practical. But that’s what movies should do, if not regularly, then at least occasionally, offer a form of escapism to its audience from real-life issues.

The cute playfulness, heart-warming dialogues, gestures, and scenes that revolve around emotions are what make K-drama so sinfully good and make anyone forget their worries.


Twenty Five Twenty One Romance
Twenty Five Twenty One

One thing I dread nowadays is watching a movie or a TV series with family. You never know what kind of provocative scene will jump out of nowhere, leaving you and your family overwhelmed with embarrassment and a sense of existential crisis.

Most of the K-dramas I have seen are family-oriented. You can sit and watch the shows in the open, reassured that nothing awkward will unexpectedly appear on your screen.


What's Wrong With Secretary Kim Romance
What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim

Each episode in Korean dramas tends to be lengthy! It can be over an hour long. But since the focus is on everyday relationships, you don’t end up getting bored.

The right amount of playfulness and romance

Love To Hate You Romance
Love To Hate You

The couples in K-dramas tease each other, have healthy banter, crack jokes, and are playful. Contrary to the common belief held by those who haven’t yet watched K-dramas, the shows are not all about soppy dialogues. The noteworthy part is that it all looks organic, not forced, adding to the authenticity of the experience.

Catchy music

Business Proposal Romance
Business Proposal

The music and background score in K-drama blends in with the situations, and in no time, you find yourself humming the tunes while doing your everyday chores. It exudes a gentle yet addictive vibe.

More relatability for 30+-year-olds

Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha Romance

While many romantic movies in India cater to a younger audience, I have noticed that most of the K-dramas I have watched feature older and more mature characters. This offers more relatability for people in my age group who want to see people their age romance on-screen as well.

It’s Your Turn Bollywood

In the 80s and 90s, Bollywood films incorporated many of these points I listed above, except maybe featuring characters in their 30s and older. However, the current landscape of Bollywood movies doesn’t provide the same enjoyment as those classic films.

A look into the popularity of K-drama proves that romantic stories still sell. It is well-liked world-over across all nationalities. In India, I am surrounded by K-drama enthusiasts. It’s safe to say there is still a broad audience for the romantic genre in India, but they are forced to venture beyond the confines of the Indian movie industry as there’s a scarcity of feel-good, wholesome cinema here.

Hindi filmmakers should seriously consider creating good ol’ romantic movies again infused with emotions, aesthetics, endearing chemistry, and romantic dialogues. Maybe then, they may witness the box office numbers soar, finally putting an end to complaints about the underperformance of Hindi movies in recent times.

An Ode to Beloved Indian Witches

Indian witch reading a book

I was surprised when I learned Wicca is openly practised in India.

Till then, I had only read about it in blogs written by people in the U.S.

Witches are just like ordinary people, blending in seamlessly with society. They don’t ride broomsticks or cast spells on unsuspecting individuals. The real ones tell you not to use the universal energy for negative agendas – “It will hit you back,” they warn. This differs from the stereotypical witches in movies and television dramas, who are portrayed as evil and adept at spewing words of hatred.

As I went through articles and posts by real witches advocating for the principle of “Do no bad to others,” I couldn’t help but notice the similarity to the teachings of practitioners of more mainstream religions who promote similar values. I often wonder if we are all indeed praying collectively to the same energy. Even a book on atheism, The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, does not negate the power of nature and its mystical ways.

Personally, it’s gratifying to know that we all are more united than we think we are – not divided by religion, caste, or community. We are one, all seeking the same things in life – hoping to be heard, protected, and blessed by a higher energy to navigate life more smoothly. The possibility that we must all be asking favors from the same being, using different names, is a heady feeling. It erases any semblance of boundaries. It assures you that humanity is above all. If more individuals shared this perspective, the divisive “us vs. them” mentality could diminish, allowing us to function from a unified standpoint.

I read about Ipsita Roy Chakraverti in a local newspaper. I was mindblown by the fact that a witch existed in India. Such things are usually kept secret in a conservative country like mine, but here was a woman who was unabashedly vocal about her practice and teachings. It was then I learned that Ipsita has authored many books on witchcraft. I decided to try “Beloved Witch” as curiosity got the better of me.

Ipsita is different from other witches in the sense that she does not shy away from promoting her powers. She’s not modest and understands her worth, which is why you often see her showering herself with compliments in the book.

I found it refreshing that Ipsita encourages you to use the all-encompassing universal energy for your own greedy benefits but warns you to be prepared for repercussions. She does not say, “Don’t do this.” Instead, she says, “Do it. But whatever happens after that is your responsibility.” So basically, she’s like a parent telling her young ones to seek adventure, giving them the liberty to learn from their own mistakes.

Now that I am done with my views on the subject, I am going to present some of my favorite thought-provoking quotes and anecdotes from Ipsita’s book. Hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

The earth is a great storehouse of energy. Merge with that source he told me, and you shall be whatever you wish to be.

She’ll flick some ash off from her cigarette (no, smoking is not permitted in the chalet, but she’ll sneak around the garden shed and wink at us). As the ash plops down and crumbles away, she’ll say, ‘That’s worldly fame for you. Fun while it lasts but don’t count on it to be around. Besides, it leaves a bad taste in the mouth.’

The following quote is what I had blogged about previously. It was after writing the post that I read this book, so it was a pleasant surprise for me to see those thoughts come to life in print.

Somehow, eastern yoginis never ‘flew’ but western witches were supposed to ride the broom over hill and dale. I have often wondered about this. And this is what I have discovered. What did the broom symbolize? It stood for hearth and home to which a woman was tied by male domination. As she ‘flew’ away on it, it meant that she was breaking the bonds. It symbolized her freedom. It might as well have been a flying carpet.

Colourful stories abounded about how a long-suffering wife would fly away into the night on this piece of domestic bondage, while her husband slept snugly unaware in his bed. She would revel all night long under the moon and return only at dawn to sweep the hearth with the very broom which had carried her off to her secret trysts.

It has been said that witches were women who were never afraid to ‘fly’. Maybe that is why they had to be burnt.

Women, strong, beautiful or independent minded were called witches so that they could be eliminated. The men who tortured and burnt innocent women in medieval Europe, live on in other places, in different guises. Witch-hunting never stopped. It just took on a more deceptive mask.

Of course, in my experience with thousands of women who have come to me for help, I would say that every strong woman is a witch and she is always hunted. It goes against the nature of most men to tolerate a woman they cannot dominate.

Witch-hunting is present not only in rural Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh or Madhya Pradesh. It prevails everywhere in the world where women stand up for themselves and what they believe in. It is there whenever women refuse to be the pawns or playthings of a callous society. Who is a witch? Or more important, what does she do? As she is a Wiccan, it would be fair to say that she practises Wicca or wiccecraefte or the skills of the wise. She was the original wise woman, the shaman, the healer, the counsellor, the lawyer, the stateswoman of her community. Her power became a threat to men, to organised religion — and hence the persecution, the witch-hunts and the slander.

‘Dr Radhakrishnan, do people in our country work best when they are shouted at or spoken to with sarcasm?’ I asked. He smiled that famous smile of his. Serene, indulgent and amused. ‘Yes, I think three hundred years of servitude have taken their toll. The Indian mind wants and needs love, compassion and understanding but has been weakened by fear. Hence it reacts the most quickly to harshness for that is what it fears. You see, our people have had to put up with so many masters, that even now we understand only the language of compulsion.’

Manifestation and visualization are concepts endorsed by a lot of people, including yours truly. As made clear from the following quote, it is practised in witchcraft as well.

Visualization of what you desire is an important part of every Wiccan ritual.

I hated the thought of my parents making a will because it implied that one day I would be on my own on this planet. And if I was capable of love, they were the only ones I did love. Wills also confirm the worst in human nature. It makes one realize that without legal documents and safeguards, people are vile, greedy and corrupt. There is something very sad in this realization.

‘I agree with Nietzsche about what the free spirit needs. It abhors habits and rules. Everything which goes on and on.’

‘But can marriage become stifling then?’ I asked her. ‘I suppose it can, to certain natures. Such a nature, even if it marries, needs space. You know, don’t you, that Nietzsche compared marriage to a spider’s web. Finally, the threads become traps. That is why, after a time, the spider stuck in the middle, painfully tears apart the mesh enclosing him, even though it will suffer from the wounds — because it must tear these threads off itself, away from its body, away from its soul. It must learn to hate where it used to love and vice versa.’

Wicca was not a dark and sinister practice, it was above board and publicly practised for anybody to check and experience. I proved it to the country. I also brought back the ancient science of quartz therapy to India. Wicca showed the way, once the path had been cleared.

Amongst the men, a very famous Wiccan was said to be none other than Robin Hood. He lived in the green woods, a lover of nature. He had around him a coven of twelve members, he being the thirteenth. He was certainly anti-establishment and fought against all forms of exploitation of the poor and helpless. He was also against organized religion. The woods were his church.

The power seekers wanted control in their own hands. Control over the populace, control over laws and governance. Those with independent, free thinking ways and minds, were a threat. Hence the persecution of Wiccans. Specially if they were women. They became the ‘evil witches’ who always tried to harm people, specially children. Folklore and fairy tales abounded equating witchery with wickedness.

What is wicked? Evil is so relative. What is wrong today, may not be considered so tomorrow. Besides right and wrong are such personal, individual things. I have always set my own standards, keeping only one thing in mind. I do not willingly and purposefully harm another in body, mind or spirit. I do not initiate mischief.

Life was the greatest school, the best laboratory for the most interesting experiments with the human species.Look at them, listen to them, mingle with them and learn.

So is there a heaven where you go if you have been ‘good’? I think we make our own heavens (and hells?) right here — and we continue living in them with those we want near, even after we pass on from our physical bodies.


Photo by Bayram Musayev