Idiot Box Makes Sense
The change appears to have begun—as the days of saas-bahu serials have gone. The “K” saga, which unfolded on the small screen in the last decade, has now paved the way to new characters—very unlike those who mesmerised the Indian middle-class audience during all those years. You can at least take a break from the “always-under-trouble” bahus rubbing her shoulders against “bueautiful gold-ladden” saas or some other character in Ekta Kappor’s soap operas.
Call it a coincedence that seials like Balika Badhu, Na Ana Ish Desh Lado and Agle Janam Mohe Bitiya Hi Kijo, are based on some contemporary issues confronting the Indian rural society. The leading characters fight back and finally overcome the hurdles in their ways.
The credit for introducing the family saga to Indian audience goes to public broadcaster Doordarshan, which in the 80s came with a series of popular serials like Hum Log and Buniyad. Both of them were based on the tragic Partition of India in 1947, which is still afresh in the memories of ageing population of that time. The impact was so deep and intense that characters like Nanhe, Badki and Lajoji became household names—like any other name in your neighbourhood. Most of them are remembered even today.
Then came the saas-bahu serials in 90s and a new trend was set with Kyunki Saas bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi on Star Plus in 2000. Followed by Kumkum—Ek Pyara Sa Bandhan, Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki and so on. Most of the television soaps had one theme in common, i.e. depicting saas-bahu fights and episodes knitted around family controversies. All these serials made the television audience addicted to theories of relationship shown in those serials between a newly-wed bahu and her in-laws. In India housewives started setting examples in real life from these serials. Characters like Kumkum, Parvati and Tulsi branded the market and saree stalls named after them rocked the market.
Almost a decade later, the scenario has changed, with the release of serials like Balika Vadhu, Bidaai, Agle Janam Mohe Bitiya Hi Kijo, Bhagya Vidhata and many more. These serials on various entertainment channels depict the stories of discrimination meted out to girls and women. These serials tell about their suppression by the anachronistic traditions, cultures and manners prevalent in the Indian society. Most of them might not be real stories but they have imagination, that tell the real plight of the entire woman class in the rural society. These serials show ugly face of Indian society and also ways out to stop the suppression of women and girls.
According to different surveys there is a 1000:927 ratio in our society between man and woman. Na Ana Ish Desh Lado serial is based on a social problem, which is related to female foeticide in our society. Set in the backdrop of Haryana, Lado’s Ammaji is dead against giving birth to a girl child. She also suppresses her sons and their wives to follow her rules in the name of tradition.
Hence, the switch-over from saas-bahu saga to the present ones showing social evil practices the society is afflicted with is a mix of entertainment and message for the people to break free the shackles of centuriesold blinkered traditions. In a nutshell, this change in theme has brought a whiff of fresh air, i.e entertainment with a message.
By Nupur Priyadarshini