I have grown up seeing Indian television daily soaps, (mostly against my will)the high melodrama and super fancy set-up caught my eye and developed an emotion in me-but the emotion was certainly humour !!.The daily soaps could never reach to me, reasons are endless but the few that remain fresh in my mind are the life expectancy of characters, the writers’ strong belief in reincarnation and the over-the-top lifestyle.
Kyunki saas bhi kabhi bahu thi (great breathing practice is required just to take the name in a breath),Well everybody knows about this serial and has watched it during some point,t hey surely would have because the serial was, God knows why, stretched for 7 Long years. The characters died and came back, died again and re-came and if they actually died, the artist would come back as his/her daughter or son. I never understood and personally never experienced how can someone’s daughter look exactly, same-to-same like her? I know who knows the answer-Ekta Kapoor.She is the one who brought in these concepts with her “K” series of daily soaps. She introduced the typical ‘saas-bahu nataunki’ in the 1990’s of the big fat north Indian joint families, who lived in lavish houses, had big family businesses and the ladies were always dressed in the wedding outfits, at least from what I could see.Another thing,these daily soaps very rarely,like one in a dozen, show soth Indian or Muslim families. Even though the number is increasing now a days,yet north Indian Hindu families are in majority.
I have always seen Tulsi, wearing her heavy sarees with all the gold she had, the example of a typical ‘sanskaari Hindustani bahu’.I actually think she is the reason why girls all over India have to be so traditional(I may be totally exaggerating but that’s what I feel).She was self-proclaimed maid of the house, masseuse to her mother in-law and a preach for everybody, yet looked as fresh as ever. She was so traditional as to marry 7 times her own husband,just with different faces(because they had undergone multiple plastic surgeries).Her righteousness was annoying as she could hurt herself just to make others happy, well who does that? A little realism would have been a better. All the things they portrayed from tip to toe was ‘ARTIFICIAL’.I couldn’t believe it even If I tried to.
How can I forget ‘baa’, I hope everyone remembers the immortal oldie. The last I remember is her being so old as to see her grat great grandchildren. I wish my grandmother was that lucky. Her husband, son, daughter-in-law and everybody died but she was as fit as ever .I still feel she might be alive somewhere because as per Ekta she was a ghost who wouldn’t die.
All the masala and saas-bahu fight with its touch of glamour cought the fancy of the middle class and specially of the homemakers. They knew that it wasn’t real, but a little imagination never bothered them.
The portrayal and creation of character trades of women through these serials is pathetic. They stereotyped the north Indian Hindu families as super loud people who celebrated festivals throughout. The most harm that they unintentionally caused was that to the women’s image.
The characters were either super evil or super good. It was either Tulsi the super sanskaari bahu who wanted good for all or the most famous vamp-kamolika, who tried to seduce every man and wished and worked for nothing else but evil. Between these black and white the majority of greys were just ignored. Being tulsi in real life is just impossible and actually insanely stupid, because that sort of a character isn’t meant for this world, so everybody else would just lie in the black-‘Kamolika’-the hot and seductive vamp. The daily soaps pictured women as gullible and highly dependent dummies who knew nothing by themselves yet wished to conquer the world. Oh! but the one thing they never forgot was to make the lady win at the end, always. She would do the stupidest stuff and yet succeed. I am all in for women empowerment but it got be at least believable.
Every protagonist was polite and all homely throughout, the one who worships her husband and is a benchmark for every bahu.This is what is derogatory. Showing the dependence of woman on man on one hand and depicting her to be so self-sufficient as to fight all evil alone single handidly, on the other hand. These serials have created a fiction framework of a perfect bahu that haunts every bahu and is the dream of every saas.
Years have passed since kyunki has gone off-air(thank God for it),but yet the legacy of Ekta continues. Her stories are still alive with different character names and same character trades. Not just the Balaji productions but all other production houses follow the same recipe for a high TRP television series-The typical ‘Saas-bahu nataunki”.