Film & TV

The Asian Silver Screen: Campus Dramas

Image credit: Unsplash/ @seankong
Image credit: Netflix

by Chahat Gandhi

Mismatched is a coming-of-age romantic comedy drama based on the young adult novel When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon. Now in your typical college romance, it’s the girl who’s hooked onto the idea of falling in love on campus and marrying her university sweetheart but Mismatched to be honest is the exact opposite. Starring Prajakta Koli as Dimple Ahuja and Rohit Suresh Saraf as Rishi Singh Shekhawat, the series is a pretty sweet watch especially when all our classes are happening over Zoom! This series is the closest to college romance that we can feel sitting at home.  

Spoiling this for you is the last thing that I’d want to do but to add it on your Netflix watchlist, here’s a little gist and the rest is for you to figure out. Now, Dimple is a tech wiz and Rishi is the guy we’d go all in for, both of them have come to the Aravalli Institute for a summer programme, except their reasons are poles apart- Dimple has come to develop her app and Rishi has come to meet his ‘Future Wife’.

Even though they didn’t quite hit it off in the beginning as suspected over the course of six episodes in the first season, both protagonists start dating and fall in love eventually. But season one ends leaving you awestruck and with a million thoughts to ponder upon what might happen in season two which is to be released very soon. On a scale of one to five, I’d rate it a solid four and would recommend watching it. 

P.S – Rohit Saraf has become the National Crush of India ever since the series was announced. 

Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo
Image credit: Kraze Magazine

by Eszter Gurbicz

At  first glance, Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo is a typical university love story in which the two leads first hate each other, but slowly realise they actually get along very well. However, this time there´s a bit more to the story. The drama is based in a sports university in which all the students are aiming to become professionals in their fields. The main characters of the drama are Bok-joo, the ace of the weightlifting department, and Joon-hyung, a talented swimmer, who´s struggling with the effects of his childhood trauma. To Bok-joo, everything seems perfect; but problems arise when she develops a crush on a doctor who turns out to be Joon-hyung´s older brother. 

While the central plot is about friendship and love, the reason this series stands out from all other campus dramas is how well it addresses issues these young people and athletes face. While most of the time the atmosphere is kept light and there are a lot of funny scenes, the drama manages to incorporate topics such as: pressure, self-esteem, family issues, trauma, mental health and eating disorders. The characters rely on each other while they learn to accept themselves and face their problems, creating many emotional moments. It is also remarkable how the different background stories of all the supporting roles are presented as the drama evolves, so there´s something relatable to everyone. Overall, this is a very enjoyable and heart-warming story to watch, and it’s almost certain you will find yourself shipping the leads!

Boys Over Flowers
Image credit: Dramafever

by Niladri Singh

It was a casual Welsh evening until the massive wave of TikTok viral videos brought ashore a Korean song that lit my eyes up and had flares rising inside my heart. The song named ‘Paradise’ belonged to one of the most famous Korean drama (K-Drama) series of all time – Boys Over Flowers. Based on a Japanese Manga series, Hana Yori Dango, written by Yoko Kamio, the series revolves around the filthy rich and reckless, particularly good-looking boys of the F-4, leaders of the prestigious Shinhwa High School. When a girl Geum Jan-di stops the affluent group from bullying a boy and pushing him to commit suicide, she earns a scholarship into the school and is instantly put under the constant and unforgiving radar of the F-4. 

Belonging to a family of dry-cleaners Jan-di’s entry into the school meant an enormous deal, her resilience to prove herself and her personal struggle is what makes the initial premise of the story. Each of the four boys have a story to share too, secrets from the past and hidden crevices in the relationships of the mega-elite all unfold with each passing season. Whom will you root for? Will the F-4 eventually break? Are they right for each other? Is any of it worth it? Does money solve it all? If you’re sensing the existence of a love triangle, you’re right! Watch the series to choose your team. 

Fair to mention that in 2009, Boys Over Flowers won the award for the most popular drama at the Seoul International Drama Awards. It has since gained massive popularity and remade into several versions in countries such as India (Kaisi Yeh Yaariaan, 2014), Thailand (F4 Thailand: Boys Over Flowers, 2021), Japan (Hana Yori Dango, 2005)  and Taiwan (Meteor Garden, 2001).

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