In the ever so evolving era, where does Indian Television stand?
Indian soaps we all quite frankly know are boring and repetitive, same plot lines stretched over eons (not an exaggeration), the lovers going in circles, the evil sagas. But why is Indian television so outdated?
I remember after a long day of work, my mother would settle down on the couch, her only way of unwinding was watching Prena cry over Anurag. While Prena cried over her ever so changing love life, my mother had her dupatta tightly clutched in her hand, keenly following ever twist and turn in the predictably unpredictable tales of love and saas bahu sagas. When Tulsi’s Mihir died the whole nation’s mothers and aunties cried over her ill fate, such is the emotional attachment of Indian women with Indian soaps. The diabolical plans of the evil saas to destroy the bahu are discussed over chai and biscuits. To some people overattachment of Indian women with these soaps might look stupid. But to a house wife whose whole life revolves around her husband and children, her only source of entertainment are the Indian soaps. The relatability factors also plays a role. The same plot of women being abused by their in-laws doesn’t get boring, as it the reality that surrounds them. The romance scenes that include only hand holding and faces slowly inching towards each other is all that the sanskari audience can take.
Indian soaps we all quite frankly know are boring and repetitive, same plot lines stretched over eons (not an exaggeration), the lovers going in circles, the evil sagas. Why is Indian television so outdated? For the lack of a better answers the content creators of these dramas sing the same song, this is what the audience wants, this is what sells. If I follow the same thought process does it mean that Indian audience is inherently dumb. The same country which gave birth to shows like Sacred Games, Mirzapur which operate on levels of complexity, has shows like Sasural Simar Ka running parallely. The stark contrast is appalling. How do we expect the Indian audience to grow if we don’t present them with shows which deal with the socio-political issues that they are actually facing. How is the housewife supposed to be enlightened if the content she consumes is stale. The evil character always wears short clothes, the obedient bahu never speaks up against the abuse, the love hate relationship between the lead characters always starts as toxic. What are we teaching a generation whose only mode of entertainment is the Indian television. Indian soaps can be a great agent for modernity, feminism, change if they want. For a change let’s have a lead female character who is outspoken, whose only aim is not to fall in love and marry. Let’s have a woman whose only aim is not to make her daughter-in-law miserable. Let the change begin at the grassroot through television which the audience voraciously consumes.
Another problem that I would like to discuss is the lack of age appropriate shows for children. As I shuffle through memory lane, my childhood was filled with memories of me playing ghar ghar with my cousins, stealing pennies to buy chocolate Eclairs. While this may sound like a normal childhood, there are some integral parts of this innocent period that linger around my mind.The theme song of famous soaps like Kasauti Zindagi Ki, Kyunki Saas Bi Kabhi Bahu Thi echo through my ears. Now the question is why is a child watching the high intensity drama of Indian soaps. While my mother sat to relax late at night watching soaps, I would sit beside her watching the same shows. This is the story of almost every household in India, children watching Indian dramas with their families. A child’s brain is highly impressionable, a clean slate filled with concepts of hate, romance that it cannot comprehend does not seem fair. Concepts that a child’s mind cannot quite critically analyse are taken as they are shown by the child’s brain. I remember the first time I heard the word rape, it was from an Indian TV soap, for days I would go around asking my elders what this word meant. I was shushed and frowned upon.
While I may go on about the shortcomings of Indian television, it is important to mention SAB TV. SAB TV is a breeze of fresh air, it has strived for years to produce shows that the full family can watch together. Balancing the funny elements and raising voices on issues that matter has been its forte. From producing family inclusive dramas to children oriented shows like Baal Veer it is a channel that deserves a loyal viewership.
This is the age of content and Indian television needs to gear up. With content pouring in from all sides, the Indian soaps are lagging far behind. Digital media is on the rise, there is a plethora of options to choose from and the out-dated concepts don’t even stand in the line of consideration. In a time where a boy sitting in a remote area can make a movie with a mobile phone, a show with huge production and cast can only stand a chance, if it delivers something relevant and new.
Department of English, Jamia Millia Islamia