Growing up, not all TV shows were intelligent or entertaining, but there were definitely a few shows that stood out from the rest. Shows that presented interesting characters, were built on realistic situations, and have aged well.
And one such show was the ultimate sitcom, Sarabhai Vs. Sarabhai.
It has been 16 years since the show first aired. And yet, every time we watch it, we are left laughing out loud (for real) at Monisha's antics, Maya's sarcasm, Indu's wit, and Rosesh's poetry.
However, amidst celebrating these characters' idiosyncrasies, the one character that manages to steal the limelight, without appearing in the spotlight is Sahil Sarabhai.
Indu and Maya Sarabhai's eldest son and Monisha's husband, Sahil's character--at least on paper--represents the 'caught between wife and mother' trope. And yet, with a combination of intelligent writing and Sumeet Raghavan's brilliant acting, Sahil Sarabhai became much more than just another loyal husband and son. He became a character we love to love, even today. Here's why:
Sahil Sarabhai was a man who defied toxic masculinity at a time when most of us were not even aware of how far-fetched the problem was.
From never forcing Monisha to change herself, to always supporting his mother's work, Sahil never assumed to be 'more important' than the women in his family - despite constantly settling disputes between them.
He also never shied away from apologizing when he was wrong. Even for the most patient of souls, Monisha's extreme fondness for a good bargain could be a bit to take. But if Sahil ever crossed a line, he ensured that he repents his behavior - and not blame it on Monisha.
In a family rooted in good intentions and flawed actions, Sahil was the lone 'sane voice'.
If it weren't for Sahil, Indu's mischievous antics could have gone a little too far, one too many times.
Or Maya's demands could have gone a tad bit on the unreasonable side.
And Monisha's inability to stop at a bargain would have left her with far more than just a room full of old newspapers.
But with logical reasoning, clever charm, and a disarming amount of patience, Sahil became the glue that kept the family--with its diverse personalities-- together.
Of course, with Rosesh, Sahil was every bit the loving but teasing elder brother. He was human, after all!
Even when he lost his cool, albeit rarely, he never took it out on a family member.
Maya and Monisha would often employ Sahil in their petty fights. But Sahil never reciprocated in a similar manner. In fact, even when the two read his personal diary (without his permission) and damaged his brand new car, he was angry and upset but did not express it in a violent manner.
This is important to note because many times, in the name of comedy, violent or abusive behaviour propagates.
Sahil's unconditional love for Monisha had us rooting for their love story right from the start.
When Sahil and Monisha first got together, Sahil was already engaged to be married to someone else. And Maya and Monisha were anything but compatible. In a clearly dramatic situation, Sahil's earnestness had us rooting for their love story.
And Sahil proved to be undoubtedly one of the most loving and supportive husbands. He survived on Monisha's cooking with nothing but smart-ass responses, that honestly, had more flavour than what she cooked. But he continued to support her through every failed food experiment and new 'chaat shop'.
And lastly, if it weren't for Sahil, we'd never have Sarabhai vs. Sarabhai.
How many of you actually remember the first episode? Where Sahil, finally fed up with the constant battle between his wife and mother, decided to leave the house and go to Goa. And that's when he meets a writer who decides that his life's anecdotes are the perfect material for a new book (and consequently, our favorite sitcom).
Sahil was the voice of the audience - who allowed us to experience the family's crazy in its entirety and yet remain outside of it. Only he was far more perfect than us mere mortals ever have hope of being.
In a world of reincarnating Mihirs and brooding Anurags, Sahil was the 'typical' Indian man who reminded us that life should be taken with a pinch of salt and bucketloads of patience.