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Can we have strong, intelligent women, whose sole purpose in life is not to hover around and put everyone else’s needs ahead of theirs, but to pursue their lives and dreams free of judgment?
In my pursuit to try out new things, I have begun watching Hindi soaps. I have been partly amused and partly horrified at how women are depicted.
Here are my observations.
In one soap, the lead actress plays the role of a teacher, but to date, I’m not sure what subject she teaches. In one episode she is shown teaching physics, in another Hindi, and in yet another, business. Jill of all trades, perhaps?
Sadly, apart from occasional mentions, her occupation is of very little consequence to the unfolding story. It’s ironic that the working woman’s struggles barely make it to dinner conversations. Instead, food, festivals, and relationships take center stage.
For the past two years, in a pandemic world, many of us have resorted to casual wear. On an average day, you will find me with disheveled hair, glasses, loose kurtas, and pajamas. But in a serial? The women are dressed to kill, with their glamorous appearances. On a normal day, the bahu in an Indian serial wears a saree that weighs almost as much as she does, with matching jewelry to boot.
The last time I looked like this was in 2014, for my sister’s wedding. Doesn’t such attire restrict mobility? And is breathing optional? One can only wonder.
In joint families, festivals are celebrated with much aplomb. The actual festival may be for a day, but the celebration sequence drags on for a week. There is tremendous scope for plotting, not so much for the plot, and thus the sequence drags like a tortoise on sleeping pills.
What astounds me is how do all the women colour coordinate? The last time I tried, the only thing I could pull off for my family were three identical black T-shirts that came in different sizes and said, ‘I heart NY.’
Let’s take the celebration of festivals, where gravity-defying miracles ensue. These are often construed as ‘auspicious omens’, blessings from divine providence approving a relationship.
A typical example would be the vermillion bouncing off a plate by accident and falling conveniently (and in slow-motion) on the forehead of a married woman. I’m indignant because I aced projectile motion equations in Engineering. Apart from the insult to logic and physics, this gives out the wrong message.
Case-in-point? A jilted lover in Gorakhpur forcefully applied sindoor to a bride on her wedding day. Things did not end well for this blundering Romeo. Police escorted him away, and the girl married her chosen groom.
Let’s take the average woman. Between work, home, and raising children, 99% of her day whizzes by.
One does wish that there were more than twenty-four hours to a day. Yet, women are shown to have ample time to gossip, plot, plan, meddle, fix relationships, and what-not. I wish I could crack this secret to having so much extra time.
I’m not saying that every soap is this way. There are occasional gems.
But how often do we get to see a woman with a hobby or a passion? If there is one, it then becomes the main storyline with her trying to achieve something against the odds.
What about portraying hobbies and passions as a ‘normal’ rather than an exception? We are layered creatures, you know.
The middle-aged mother of two grown-up children looks like she is in her thirties, giving me an inferiority complex.
There are also occasional ‘time-jumps’, applicable to any serial running for too long, prompting the writers to do something drastic. The trick to jump a few years is to show aging, mainly in the mane. Insert a single shiny silvery-white strand onto the heroine’s head, depicting the forward leap by ten years.
I look at the fifty shades of grey that my hair is, and I sigh. If only!
Does beauty in soaps have to be stereotyped to astronomical glamourous levels? Do women need to have alabaster skin, silky tresses, and flawless figures? Can they be more real? Can we get to see chubby heroines with spectacles, acne, and non-hourglass figures?
How delightful would it be to celebrate women as we are, propagating the notion that we come in all shapes, sizes, and colours, and we are beautiful just the same!
Do you know what would be most refreshing? A woman discussing world politics, or matters of national importance, and offering her opinions with confidence. When making an investment decision, envisage the protagonist buying a car or a house independently! Or even discussing financial matters with her partner with equal authority.
Where are the intelligent women who can speak up?
A lot has been written about this already. Let’s stop projecting women as the paragons of self-sacrifice and duty, who will give up their dreams to nurture the other members of the house.
In the era of OTT, the younger generation may not watch such soaps, but prospective mothers-in-law might. My request to them is not to get influenced and expect the same behavior from their future daughters-in-law!
All said and done, serials are addictive, which also means they can be used as powerful tools of reform. What do I want to see? Strong, intelligent women, who are equals in their relationships, whose sole purpose in life is not to hover around and put everyone else’s needs ahead of theirs, but to pursue their lives and dreams free of judgment. Is that too much to ask for?
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Lalitha is a blogger and a dreamer. Her career is in finance, but writing is her way to unwind! Her little one is the center of her Universe. read more...
Women's Web is an open platform that publishes a diversity of views, individual posts do not necessarily represent the platform's views and opinions at all times.
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Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 might have had a box office collection of 260 crores INR and entertained Indian audiences, but it's full of problematic stereotypes.
Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 starts with a scene in which the protagonist, Ruhaan (played by Kartik Aaryan) finds an abandoned pink suitcase in a moving cable car and thinks there was a bomb inside it.
Just then, he sees an unknown person (Kiara Advani) wave and gesture at him to convey that the suitcase was theirs. Ruhaan, with the widest possible smile, says, “Bomb mai bag nahi hai, bomb ka bag hai,” (There isn’t a bomb in the bag, the bag belongs to a bomb).
Who even writes such dialogues in 2022?
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Anupama writes with a clear vision of what she wants to say, and makes sure she explores all possible facets of the topic, be it parenting or work or on books.
An intelligent, extroverted writer with a ton of empathy, she is also one who thinks aloud in her writing. Anupama says that she is largely a self driven person, and her passion to write keeps her motivated.
Among her many achievements Anupama is also a multiple award winning blogger, author, serial entrepreneur, a digital content creator, creative writing mentor, choreographer and mother to a rambunctious 7-year-old who is her life’s inspiration and keeps her on her toes.