Introducing Our New Venture

All About Books Global
Got a Book you wish to get reviewed?

Click here and fill up

Tuesday, October 20, 2009



Change in Plot

The women factor

The birth of a vibrant feminist movement in the late 70s –a
host of non-governmental organizations focusing on women’s issues had come up
in the decade (1975-85) following the declaration of the International Women’s
year- also aided the process of emancipation.

Many of these feminist groups consisted of urban middle class
women who successfully pushed for a range of pro-women laws, established
institutions to provide legal and material support to destitute women and
watchdog committees for monitoring phenomena such as the representation of
women in the media and so on. One of the consequences of the movement was also
a deluge of “women oriented serials” on Doordarshan between 1982 and 1987.

The serials encompassed a variety of genres: soaps, sitcom,
docu-drama, self help and so on. Adhikaar
for instance, dealt with the legal rights of Indian women; Kashmakash was based on short stories by women writers. Stri drew portraits of extraordinary
women, while Airhostess explored the
lives of single working women. The intention- to present a positive image of
women- was clearly a laudable one. Filmmaker Deepa Dhanraj[1] noted
that, “ given that scarcity of nonfiction programmes  centered around women, practically any images
are to be celebrated.”

In implementation, however Doordarshan did not quite live up
to the time, Dhanraj concluded that the attempt had misfired on several counts
which included oversimplification of the causes of women’s oppression;
structuring serials with a view to male gratification and suggest solutions
that often ended by reinforcing rather than changing the status quo.

According to Amrita Shah[2],” The medium also put
together contradictory messages. Programmes such as Adhikaar, on women’s legal rights and Aur Bhi Hain raahein, on career options for women were telecast
along with jowl ads in which glamorous models played out the traditional roles
of wife, mother and sex object. In Ramayana,
the highest rated serial at a time when Doordarshan was trying to encourage
liberal attitudes towards women’s emancipation, the main female character Sita – a woman who unquestionly joined
her husband Rama, in exile, was
kidnapped by Ravana provoking a war
between the two kings, and was eventually dumped by her husband when his
citizens cast aspersions on her chastity.

The social change did make its way into the daily soaps of
the time. Woman started holding more serious positions particularly in
companies owned by deceased fathers or husbands. “And letters received by Humraahi –a serial propagating woman equality-indicated a growing support
for independent women who could speak out against male tyranny and some
impatience with the doormat type. [3]

          The world of TV soaps was inducing a
widespread coverage in middle class attitudes, much to the relief of the
younger generation of women who suddenly found age old shackles disappearing

Twenty something garment fabricator in Bombay for instance
held television entirely responsible for the fact that her conservative Muslim
mother no longer pressurized her to leave her job and get married. Teenagers in
small towns like Indore found themselves found in a position to flaunt the
latest bold fashions without running against parental disapproval. Sexologists,
psychiatrists and marriage counselors also testified to a sharp rise in
awareness and acknowledgement of sensual desire among women. Clearly the urban
middle class woman had come a long way. But so much change in so little time
could not but provoke reaction.

Not to mention serials like, Shanti, Radha ki Betiyaan Kuch Kar Dikhayegi, Kkusum, all
propagated the empowerment of women and have established social issues along
with dramatic narratives that made the audience live through the ups and downs
of the character’s life.

The Evolution

          The first television serials brought
in the middle class homes and social issues clubbed today. Thus Hum Log and Buniyaad were about the plight of the common man. Yeh Jo Zindegi Hai, Nukkad, Flop Show nurtured
the same theme and became small screen classics.

          The cultural bend of minds produced
religious epic serials such as Ramayana  and Mahabhrata
and TV sets in all the houses across the country all of a sudden become
idols to worship with incense sticks, street got deserted on every Sunday and
the whole family comprising of members from 4 years to 90 years watched the gods
battle against evil. The country was heaped with so much of religiosity that a
political party got into prominence in the coming years, strong enough to bring
about one of the deadly riots in the history of the country.

          The stream of serials that was to
follow in the coming years was by the dint of the series of satellite channels
launched were launched one after the other. The producers were continuously
studying the audience and soon realized that perhaps one section needed more
attention than the other genres. What came as a result were several sitcoms
that flooded all the channels, making it difficult for the viewers to decide
which one to watch and which one to neglect. Dekh Bhai dekh, Kareena
Kareena, Hum Paanch,Line of Control, Sarabhai, Khichadi
stole the show away. But neither of them
could stand as tall as their comic predecessors. Massod Akhtar lamented,” Comedy though to some extent popular is not
up to the mark.”

So, when
the audience was too tired of the comic bone, the never ending family saga
serials took the stage. With a
population close to 400 million individual viewers, and a bouquet of channels
offering an exhausting, unlimited and formula-tested soaps of ‘holier-than-thou
women with huge red bindis, streams of vermilion and imitation mangalsutras, as
opposed to the vamps with  over the top pan-caked makeup and a perpetual
evil look in eyes, Indian soaps started 
playing with the psychological emotions of the common Indian women who
are the primary target for high drama and suspense and who tend to favour the
positive or the negative vibes given out by these women characters. With the
advent of producers like Balaji Telefilms, women started swearing by the
characters of ‘Tulsi’ of Kunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi … or ‘Parvati’ of
Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki’ . Such is the craze for these women characters
that advertisements for marriages have insert like, ‘the girl should be like
Tulsi’! The message is strong and clear, today’s mother-in-law wants a girl who
would be completely traditional, protect the family values of her in- laws
(does not matter if she is abused and berated by one and all –
misunderstandings are always cleared after six episodes of glycerine tears and
high family drama) and respect her in-laws no matter how scheming they are.
Almost all serials are women-dominated, and if one leaves the saas-bahu (family
drama) and moves to the more modern soaps, one would find instances of some
bold and uncommon theme. Soaps like ‘Astitva- Ek Prem Kahani’, dealing
with a young man falling in love with a much older woman, or ‘Jassi Jaisi
Koi Nahin
’, where a common ordinary looking girl makes it to the top on
basis of her merit, have been some milestones in influencing the youth. ‘Jassi
Jaisi Koi Nahin
’, has inspired common looking girls, with no glamour to
back them, to stand for themselves and create their own niche in society. Yet,
some could not stop complaining about the agony that the serials induced in
them. Almost everyone would responded to the survey listed a numerous reasons
that went against the popular serials, especially the k-serials.
Presence of huge family with untraceable source of wealth; Presence of an
immortal person; Mother and daughter must look like sisters of same age and
grandmothers must look like older sister but age difference to be minimized as
much as possible; All festivals in calendar must be celebrated; Presence of one
or more negative characters is must; Plastic surgeries, death and reappearance,
loss of memory etc. should appear repeatedly until audience develop sixth
sense; Each episode must end with suspense; There must be regular addition of
new character in serial; Long form of co-incidence in the language of serials
is taken as commonly occurring incidents; and lastly the obvious attempt at
copying the popular and box office hit Bollywood movies or unfortunate daily
incidents that got flashed across national dailies for days together.[4]

          Even though the new serials in the
recently launched channels like NDTV Imagine and COLORS TV, and in also those
one pre existing ones, have elbowed out the kitchen politics and have taken up
social issues much more serious, as in the case of Jyoti, Mein Teri Parchaayi hoon, Balika Badhu, Na Ana Is Desi-Laado,
Sabki Laadli Bebo, Mere Ghar Aayi Ek Nanhi Pari, Agle Janam Mohe Bitiya Hi Kijo
What is joyful about these new serials is that they are more compact and finish
off without boring off the viewers.[5][6]

appeals no more

          The charm created by Ramayana,
and on the other hand Tipu Sultan, Chanakya is no more
found in the new serials like Jai Sri Krishna,
Rani Padmini Kak Johar. Dharti Ka
Veer Yodha Prithviraj Chauhan
rouse to
popularity for it showed a much talked about costly sets and too much emphasis
on the king and his beloved’s dragged on romance.

children’s show

          “As compared to their
needs or their population, there is very little television telecast for the
children”, a 22 years old, Chitrak Mitra commented.

Thus children hardly find anything appeasing to their taste in the main
stream channels. Few feel like tunning into channels like Cartoon Network,
Disney Channel, Jetix, POGO, HUNGAMA TV. All they watch are serials much above
their age.

“Hindi TV serials for that matter all
TV serials do affect the children, they get matured quite fast, they get to
know things beyond their age and thus there is a loss of the actual childhood.
Complications in families do result from this unwanted development. It seems
children no more act like children; they all are adolescents from the age of 5
or 6,”
said Mr.
Subhasis Chakraborty.

Mr. Masood
Akhtar opined,” Surely, children are very
much affected by the Hindi TV serials. Whatever is shown in these serials less
than 10% is beneficial for children. Children believe in whatever is shown, and
they jump off the roof, die, and commit crimes. They do not understand the
black and white characterization in the serials; neither must we expect it from
their age group. Yet, they watch it and their aims and ambitions are taking
shapes accordingly, which is unfortunate. They are bumping into things which
they should not.

The TV serials meant for children are
certainly not meeting my expectations. Good programmes meant for children
should be shown in all the channels, during the afternoon before the children
sit down to study. Good fiction stories should be made for them…I think Cartoon
network is doing a job.”

According to
Dr. Puson Gupta,” I think advertisement
affect children most. Basically children are not bothered about boring serials;
they are choosier than adults.”

Mr. Manoj
Swami said,” In an era of dual income,
nuclear family, where both the parents go to work, TV and internet is becoming
a child’s best friend and obviously they leave a great impression on a child's
mindset.... sometimes indelible impressions.

"Malguri" and "Indra
Dhanush" are by far the best serials for children that I have seen in
Hindi. Recently some attempts have been made mostly in animation (Krishna and
Chhota Bhim) but as far as my understanding goes children today mostly watch
cartoons made outside the country but dubbed in Hindi.”

needless to say the serial makers have not done much to cater to the children


1)    Dhanraj, Deepa: The Media and Women’s
Issues: 1994, ‘Whose News’ (saga publications).

2)    Shah, Amrita: Hype, Hypocrisy And
Television In Urban India: 1997 ‘Middle Class Strike Back’, pp:-180-181, (Vikas
Publishing House Pvt Ltd)

3)    Ibid.Pg- 182

The Times
of India,” Shhh! Psst-psst! Unfolding some of the best conspiracies”, Friday, July 21, 2006. And also added by
some of the people who responded to the survey.

Times of India,”
Ba, Bahu & now
the Beti, by Nikhila Pant, 5 May ,2009.

Today, Stereotypical TV girl gets a reality check by Priyanka Srivastava June
6, 2009.

No comments: