Saas Bahu Serials Are So Old School. Enter Icchaadhaari Nagins & Houseflies

Hindi Television has moved on from old genres of melodrama and saas-bahu, but are we loving the shift? What's new on the telly?

They say,”Change is the only constant.” The face of Hindi Television is also changing. Let’s see how is the change happening and with what results.

The creativity and imagination of  Hindi Television never ceases to impress me! All sorts of characters, backgrounds, plots and events knit together with a touch of Bollywood songs and CGI action, among other things, is truly a mesmerising wonder. Just kidding! No, the kind of shit that is being shown in the name of entertainment to the audience is really rather unpalatable and disgusting, to say the least.

No, I’m not saying that all Hindi soap operas are/were/have been bad. The likes of Byomkesh Bakshi, Sarabhai v/s Sarabhai, Malgudi Days, Dekh Bhai Dekh, Hum Log, Buniyaad, are a few examples coming from what was truly a golden era of the Hindi Television.

Sadly, the same cannot be said for TV serials of today. All Hindi shows are not bad. The thing is, they eventually turn bad. Plain bad – no other adjective needed. Bear with me a little longer and you’ll see why.

There is a gazillion of soap operas running on tonnes of TV entertainment channels. But do they really offer entertainment? I highly doubt so. Most of these shows start with an interesting social issue in an effort to sound inspirational. These include issues like child marriage, surrogacy, adoption, widow remarriage and God knows what else. To be honest, more than anything else, it feels like the producers just want to add some masala into their repetitive scripts as eventually, it all comes back to saas-bahu drama and family feuds.

A new fad has developed among the scriptwriters for the past couple of years, though. Saas-bahu is so old-school. Everyone does at least one mythological/epic saga. So what new thing can they bring to the telly to burn out the viewers’ eyes? Enter the supernatural. I mean, how can a seemingly harmless, petite bahu turn into a murderous housefly through black magic, is beyond my understanding! What is the need to turn the female protagonist (anti-heroine, in most cases) into a possessed (by a spirit and/or demon/ witch, of course) woman just so she can exact revenge on the heroine who stole away the male lead…. Honestly I give up!

By the way, television has refocused itself to the avenger nagin again. In fact, an upgrade can be found in such shows that show lions, bats, fox, cockroach, earthworms, butterflies, ladybugs (do I really need to mention the entire Animalia Kingdom?) All are Icchaadhaari, no doubt – meaning they can change their appearances at their will.

But how and why are these shows popular? Why do their TRPs keep on increasing? An answer can be the foot-in-the-door compliance technique- promising good quality content, raising a social issue in the beginning to create viewership and once when the viewer has become a dedicated, feel free to throw shit at their faces. They’ll still consume what you are selling, because loyalty.

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To be honest, we all know that the audience these days are smart audience. Most of the urban youth have already rejected and given up on the Hindi television. And if the TV producers really think that their soap operas are heartily watched and admired by the female audience, and that that’s enough, they are in for a rude shock – whenever that may come. Entertainment, in general, and daily soaps, in particular, are not strictly meant for women. Kids and men also partake the chaos of the Hindi television. But we all know that our audience are smarter than this. One day, they will straight up stop watching the filth that is being shown in the garb of entertainment. Till then, fingers crossed!

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Apoorva Verma

Just your average pen-wielding person with a knack for thinking inside the box. read more...

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