Why do the Indian Daily Soaps have their leading ladies tread on such a regressive track? I know this subject must have been synonymous with cliché by now. But one cannot have enough of drama bashing.
In the surge of feminism, where women are aiming for the sky in the real world, Indian TV shows are pinning them into the corner of the primitive perception of a woman. The leading ladies have to be the idealistic women with the whitest shade of white as their personalities. They are devoid of having the tiniest possibility of contortion in their character. Only thinking about making the Husband and Family happy. Sacrificing their own happiness along the process. Soaked in righteousness. That’s our stereotypical Daily Soap heroines in a nutshell.
A certain show, for instance (let it be anonymous), that keeps on charting at #1 on the TRPs, is one of the biggest employers of the elements that depicts how hapless an Indian Bahu is; without any realization or complaint. The plot is an endless loop of the Female Lead ‘s efforts towards supporting and pleasing her husband and in-laws. The perfect Bahu; receptacle for the perpetual grief.
There are several examples of Indian Tele Serials which start with a promising concept, like, the story of a girl who likes to run and can be a professional athlete, or a girl who loves to cook so much that she could make it as a career. It could have been made into a tale of how they became the Nation’s Pride or a successful Entrepreneur, while being married or not. Instead, they all end up being confined to their “Bahu” title, taking care of the hotch-potch they’ve been brought into by virtue of marriage. Is this the writer’s percept of an Indian woman or is it the external pressure due to the viewer demographics, that has made them lose their creativity in showing the females in the justified light!
Some might say that ‘It is entertainment, no need to take it seriously’. But media is and has always been an instrument for influencing the public. If it’s entertainment, then entertain in a positively inspiring and enlightening way. This is the same entertainment factory that once churned out ideas like Udaan, Rajni, Saaya, Alpviram, Arohan. None of these shows has their leading ladies play the same role. Variety was the concept of these shows. Thus, they are still remembered for their originality and diversity.
This shows, that the audience has a broader spectrum of acceptance when it comes to entertainment, and can be served with various ideas. It might take a little time to restore the earlier quality of presentation and reception. But it will get there, eventually. When there was just one, and later two channels, only the things that were served could be taken. And people found taste in them. They enjoyed it. So presenting women in different color and shade will let the viewers’ mind flex gently. If they can show tolerance, so can they portray assertion. After all, the Television Industry is dominated by women, now more than ever. So, the shows, that these real-life queens are in, can at least try not to make them look like the oblivious subservient ready to extend their souls to their ”significant” partners without a hiccup. And acknowledge the fact that, the be all and end all of an Indian Woman is not in her achievement of being a self-neglecting “Bahu”. Bahu, she can choose to be one, or not. And while at it, she doesn’t need to abandon herself.
So why not bring the creative times back and infuse all the channels with good quality entertainment peppered with variety? Sometimes watching TV is similar to a habit, like brushing or taking a shower. Watching a daily show is kind of a commitment of watching it to the end. The habit and the commitment can be doused with some grade substance and widen the audience’s perspective.
An Indian woman doesn’t have to be pegged in the role of a “Bahu” to validate her accomplished life. And even if she is a Bahu, it would be really nice if she could have some other feelings besides generosity and posses flaws of a regular human. Self-sacrificing to the point of frustration is difficult to digest.
Let’s not diminish the spirit of the striving feminism which is yet to reach its destination. Instead, showing them as strong women who are taking care of their family and themselves, while standing for their own rights and owning their flaws, will instill hope in their real-life counterparts whose spirit can be encouraged more.
Don’t you agree with me?