If someone were to ask me if I watch hindi daily soaps, I would say no with a straight face. I would then rant on about new sitcoms and series that I started watching and boast of some dialogues from the show. Because daily soaps are a complete waste of time and aren’t really the younger generation’s choice per say. However, we are all guilty of watching daily soaps, if not often, then at least occasionally while taking dinner with family. Being a serial procrastinator, I often keep switching channels or just watch whatever my grandma left on because I was too lazy to look for the remote.
So, even though I am not a devoted binge watcher of daily soaps, I know what’s happening with Ishita, Shagun, Simar, Ganga, Akshara, Pragyan etc. Yes, I am more up to date with what’s happening in Yeh Hai Mohabattein than I am with my own course structure.
I observed a rather disturbing trend, which most of us simply watch and ignore. The portrayal of the good woman versus the bad woman in serials is rather discriminatory. The female protagonist is usually garbed in a saree or at the very least a tunic in the name of western clothing. She is marked by a willingness to sacrifice her career for her whimsical in-laws without any complaints and most importantly to keep her husband, children, in-laws, distant relatives, domestic help, doodh wala, security guard, society ki aunties and practically everyone before her.
On the other hand, the antagonist usually has the best wardrobe collection in the show and if at all she wears a saree, it cannot be without a designer blouse and ambitions that can literally burn the house down.
The daily soaps of yester years reeked with antagonists of the likes of Kamolika of Kasauti Zindagi Ki wearing an elongated bindi. Thankfully, that practice is discarded now.Let’s talk in terms of examples. Yeh Hai Mohabbatein is a quite popular show among the masses. The female protagonist, Ishita is a dentist but she comes back home and does the entire household chores without showing a hint of fatigue, while her husband would always get back home tensed and frustrated.
Obviously, a woman’s career is more or less a hobby, no tensions ever!
She also bears the grunt of her ill-behaved step daughter without ever showing contempt. Shagun (Ishita’s husband’s first wife) and Nidhi (Ishita’s husband’s to be wife at one time) are fiercely independent ladies but as fate would have it, have turned into ‘villains’, for no other reason but ‘Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’.
I was impressed with a show, Mere Angne Mein because of a strong no-stereotypical female lead but ultimately she gave up on her career because that is the right thing to do! It is almost as if ambitions of a woman are scoffed at and are shown negatively in daily soaps for they are against the traditional male dominated family arrangement.
There is yet another trend in ‘family’ daily soaps. We all have seen episodes of Tarak Mehta ka Oolta Chasma, Bhabiji Ghar Par Hai and May I Come in Madam at least once. All these shows have one thing in common – they show married men who casually flirt and chase other women. Somehow, it is shown as a socially acceptable practice and is apparently funny. Imagine if a married woman were to lust after other men in daily soaps, it would probably have been banned!
A large section of the society swears by such daily soaps. If it were to become more progressive and shun the stereotypes, the influence on the society can be remarkable in the long run.