New Delhi: The ‘opposites attract’ and ‘enemies-turned-lovers’ tropes are very common in romance dramas and no television show capitalised on it more than Dill Mill Gayye.
A medical romance drama that aired on Star One, Dill Mill Gayye was extremely popular among the youth. This was primarily because of the central romance between the lead couple Dr. Ridhima Gupta (played by Ohanna Shivanand) and Dr. Armaan Mallik (played by Karan Singh Grover), which was based on mutual dislike, constant bickering and the bid to outdo each other at every step.
The sexual tension between both the characters lay in their constant battle with each other, that eventually blossomed into one of the most iconic romances on Indian television.
The two characters had a mutual disregard for each other and had a constant banter that would explode into a loud proclamation of love. For teenagers following the show, this became the definition of love, regardless of the inherent toxicity of such relationships.
“My friends and I thought Armaan and Riddhima were couple goals, their chemistry was undeniable, never mind the fact that the actress playing Riddhima changed thrice,” said 29-year-old Shriti Chatterjee, a Delhi-based banker.
“All of the relationships in the show were opposites getting attracted to each other, and it wasn’t true love until they had a full blown argument and shouted their love for each other like total maniacs… I thought this is how love is supposed to be,” she added.
The show began airing in 2007 and had a three-year-long run with 722 episodes.
More romance, less medicine
Dill Mill Gayye was a spin off to another hit medical show Sanjivani, which starred Mohnish Behl, Gurdeep Kohli and Rupali Ganguly in lead roles and aired in 2002.
Behl also starred in the spin-off, which centred on the work and love life of five medical interns at the ‘Sanjivani Hospital’ in Mumbai.
The primary plot line seemed to have been inspired by popular American television series Grey’s Anatomy.
Just like the first few seasons of the US show, Dill Mill Gayye followed the lives of five interns — playboy Dr. Armaan Mallik (Karan Singh Grover), the friendly and dedicated Dr. Riddhima Gupta (Ohanna Shivanand), the goofy environment activist Dr. Atul Joshi (Pankit Thakker), the mean girl Dr. Anjali Gupta (Sunaina Gulia) and the defiant but kind Dr. Sapna Shah (Muskaan Mihani).
And just like Dr Miranda Bailey from Grey’s, the interns from the Indian show reported to the strict and demanding Dr. Kirti Mehra, portrayed by Sonia Singh.
The music of the show was also extremely popular and the title track of the show was an original composition, sung by Sonu Nigam and Prajakta Shukre.
“The biggest takeaway for me from that show were the original songs used — Asmani Rang and Ishq Leta Hai Kaise Imtehaan — the elaborate story faded away soon after I stopped watching the show, but I can still catch myself humming those songs some days,” Shashwati Kar, a Pune-based Marketing Executive told ThePrint.
“Ishq Leta Hai Kaise Imtehaan’ plays in my head as background music very often even today. Just play the song, lie on the bed while facing the ceiling and tears will come automatically,” Chatterjee added.
The many Riddhimas
A curious thing about the show was that the female lead, Dr. Riddhima, was played by three different actors.
Originally, she was portrayed by Shivanand, then by Sukirti Kandpal and finally by Jennifer Winget.
“The constantly changing Riddhimas really bothered me. I felt like the show makers didn’t take the viewers seriously and thought they’d easily change the central character over and over again and nobody will notice … I stopped watching the show midway because of this,” 24-year-old Vishakha Shivkumar, a Spanish teacher and freelancer, told ThePrint.
A toxic love story
Even after all these years, the chemistry and romance between Armaan and Riddhima remains the most memorable thing about the show.
The two meet for the first time not in the hospital but on a basketball court. Riddhima gets hit with a basketball by an unapologetic Armaan who asks her to throw the ball back without using any of the “three magic words (Sorry, please, thank you)” of the English language.
This rattles Riddhima, who has just returned from a jog. Instead of simply returning the ball, she flaunts her skills on court. The two then challenge each other to see who can make the most number of baskets to determine who is the better player.
This challenge between them sets the tone of their equation — arch enemies destined to fall in love.
In the hospital, too, Armaan constantly pranks Riddhima and embarrasses her by calling her “Basket”.
“The show was nothing but time pass, didn’t really add to my life’s perspective, but I was hooked to it, and would get really tensed every time Riddhima and Armaan went to the fire escape to argue … I was there for the drama,” Shivkumar said.
She added: “My mom had actually banned it for my sister and I because it had too much romance. But I would sneakily watch it anyway!”
(Edited by Rachel John)
Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it
India needs free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism even more as it faces multiple crises.
But the news media is in a crisis of its own. There have been brutal layoffs and pay-cuts. The best of journalism is shrinking, yielding to crude prime-time spectacle.
ThePrint has the finest young reporters, columnists and editors working for it. Sustaining journalism of this quality needs smart and thinking people like you to pay for it. Whether you live in India or overseas, you can do it here.