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There are almost no real women in daily soaps, most of them being dolled up caricatures of the traditional ‘good bahu’ or evil characters if modern.
I don’t watch TV much. I have my share of some shows and music channels that I am hooked to. But I don’t follow the unending, melodramatic serials on various channels. I don’t have anything against the chunk of audience who are followers of daily soaps, as everyone has an access to the kind of entertainment they want.
However, what I saw the other day made me wonder how the portrayal of the ideal women effects the viewer. As I was surfing through channels, a promo of a daily soap caught my eye. The protagonist was a homemaker, sari clad, happily ever serving to her husband and in laws. She had long braided hair, a tikka and traditional stuff adorned her personality. Then came the entry of the antagonist, who appeared to be a colleague of the husband. She was depicted as a modern woman, dressed in western clothes, short hair, and wearing make up. She is shown to have a romantic interest in the protagonist’s husband, and that is the best thing she is doing at her work place.
The promo made me cringe, and somehow made me wonder why I ever watched such demeaning things which are served to our intellect in the guise of entertainment. The endless saga of sacrifice and conspiracy with a whole lot of twists in the plot is at times nauseating.
The very narrow point of view is that all that is modern is evil and the goody goody woman has to be traditional, dolled up, always smiling and always serving without any expectations. I found it to be too sugary, too plastic and completely unreal.
I have no issues with women who always dress up in the ethnic way and follow traditions. But just creating an image of a working, modern women as a home breaker is not justifiable. Why is this perception that working women, who dress up according to their choice, who hang out with their colleagues and who are independent, that of someone not ladylike and up to no good?
Television dramas and even our cinema follows the same theme. There are only a few cult movies like ‘Queen‘, which show the transformation of a woman in personality and confidence. Rest are just like the Anjalis of Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, where the woman protagonist has to change from the rough and tough, confident person to a georgette clad delicate darling with long hair and with feminine makeup to find the love of life. More recently, the biggest block bluster of the past year, Bahubali also showed the same perfect feminine requirements. The character of Tammana is a warrior girl. But the male protagonist adds all the feminine beauty essentials like kohl and lip colors in the love song for the sake of romance. Why didn’t the director show that the man loved the warrior girl for what she is? Why is she not accepted as the real being? If we love someone, we accept them in totality, and the way they are. There are no prerequisites for loving a person.
The level of expectations which is put on a lady is always extreme. She has to be perfect daughter, mother, wife, sister. She should always put others before us. The more she sacrifices, the more goddess like she is. Why not be her a human being with all the flaws and grey shades? I really find it at times very fake, when a newly married girl tries to please everyone at the new in laws home. How can a person after some twenty – twenty five years of growing up independent, suddenly accept every demand and meet expectations so smoothly?
Women need to be real and totally human. There should be a halt in worshipping and idolising the the ideal bahu of the daily soaps. The kind of insult these serials do to our intelligence by showing each and every female character, decked up in heavy make up and silk saris throughout the day! I mean, have you ever seen ladies at your home like this?
I respect traditions and culture. I also understand that mass media is a great way to cater to moral values. But it should not be so judgemental in sketching the characters on the basis of appearance and clothes. In real life, so many working women toil the whole day, earning for the family and taking all the responsibilities. Today’s homemaker is not necessarily always wrapped in sari and always toiling in kitchen and serving everyone with smile stuck on lips. Today’s homemaker shares the responsibility of children’s education, financial management of home and doing chores out side the periphery of domestic duties. Our television daily soaps and cinema miss out on catching these real characters.
The portrayal of real, strong and more humane women in daily soaps is the need of the hour. The acceptance that the female fraternity is just not made for sacrifices, but that they too have needs, fantasies, dreams and most importantly all the grey emotions too. Human beings are not always perfect and that’s their beauty. I hope someday I too find some intelligent TV soap to be hooked on to, with some relatable female characters.
Image source: YouTube