Many a times I make an attempt to sit in front of the TV to watch some serials just out of curiosity. But believe me after a rigorous job of watching these highly overrated soaps, I was left with nothing but prefer to sit lazy than watching the most senseless thing that has ever happened to Indian television. I can say today who don’t watch serials at all, don’t feel they are missing anything in lives, and those who watch it, don’t think they are adding anything meaningful to it.
Hindi television serials lost their relevance to such an extent that nobody is excited to get back home and switch on the TV .Whatever be the reason, there is no denying that there aren’t any favorites left among Hindi television serials. But there was a time before the Cable Revolution arrived in India around 1991, we had the Doordarshan as a only visual entertainment source and every person in a household had his own favorite serial as per their choices and they all used to sit to the small screen at their fixed times and week-days. When Hum Log, the first soap for the middle class was aired for the first time, millions of viewers across India sat glued to their sets sharing the joys and heartbreaks of the characters and identifying with their middle class attitude. This was the first serial which discussed issues of family planning, freedom of choice to find a life partner or job and the role of women in society. This was followed by other ‘identifiable’ serials like ‘Buniyaad’, and mythological serials like ‘Ramayan’ and ‘Mahabharat’.. Impact of mythologies was such !, that, people would hurry up with their morning chores and then sit glued to the television sets, some even offering incense and flowers to the ‘godly’ characters of Lord Krishna! When the people of a country can perform puja in front of a T.V. set when serials like Ramayana are aired, then one can only imagine the influence that this medium had over them. I remember a serial on Doordarshan called Bharat Ek Khoj. It presented in dramatic form, a depiction of the history for India for 5000 years till the year 1957, and was based on a book by Jawaharlal Nehru (first Indian Prime Minister) called Discovery of India. This is a pretty famous book, and the series was very gripping and was an excellent depiction of history. One more series used to come “Tamas” by Govind Nihalani. All were worth watching masterpieces.
India is a country where relationships, whether good or bad, are given a lot of importance. Today the much talked saas-bahu relationship is the hot topic of discussion in many a woman gathering, and this aspect has very cleverly been cashed by the makers of daily soaps, to keep the women audience glued to the idiot box. Where we get to watch Doordarshan only now there is a bouquet of channels offer exhausting, unlimited and formula-tested soaps with some women oriented charecters (huge red bindis, streams of vermilion and imitation mangalsutras and heavy worked sari claded), as opposed to the vamps (with over makeup and a perpetual evil look in eyes). And the stories revolve how to make the situation complex. With the advent of soap factories like Balaji Telefilms, women have started swearing by the characters of ‘Tulsi’ of Kunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi… (The title itself making no sense and the story went to haywire), or ‘Parvati’ of ‘Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki’. Such is the craze for these women characters that advertisements for marriages have inserts like, ‘the girl should be like Tulsi’! This is just an example to show the extent of psychological play soap can have on the mindset of the viewers.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 glycerin tears and high family drama) and respect her in-laws no matter how scheming they are. It would be a long debate to get into the ‘positivity and negativity’ of the women characters. Where on one hand we are all trying to convince ourselves that India is shining and we, as a country have come of age, we have serials where the leading character is always at a disadvantage because of her dark skin what an outdated idea sirji!! But worry not serial makers, for our audiences simply love to lap up such outdated ideas! Moreover, by showing charecters as so cunning and double faced, these serials play key roles in today’s life to become more suspicious of other where belief has become less and ego has taken the place. Coming to the so-called reality shows, they are only battlefields for warring judges, and platforms for film stars to promote their films, rather than any talent scouting that they claim to be doing. Nobody asks what happened with the winners after the show? They barely can be seen later. One can just conclude that the makers of these serials are leaving no stone unturned to make the T.V. live up to its name-the idiot box. Reality television, they say, breaks the monotony by creating interesting concepts and innovative ideas that made them stand out from the regular shows. But what they bring! TV show Big Boss is like mixing drugs in Cold drinks without making anyone realize and then defending themselves by saying that people are enjoying it even more! Show is addictive because it has vulgarity, infidelity, lies, abuses, back bashing and what else ! all negative, absolutely NO positive qualities! Wonder what are they going to learn from all this? So get real when you watch these reality TV shows.
I’m not disregarding television and its merit. Television is meant to inspire, but it can work both for and against viewers. It has become one item of a family's existence to such an extent that, now it cannot be brushed aside at this stage. There are also shows like a KBC or a Sarabhai v/s Sarabhai, Tarak Mehta ka Ulta Chashma and recently ended “Satyamev Jayate” which are rays of hope. But the list is less and we need more to oxygenate our brain. So what to watch is depend on us and what to make is depend on those makers. Only we can pray may god bless these show makers little sensible.