Sunday, 2 June 2013

Indian soaps.....nothing like anything!!!

It was a long time ago that Jerry Mander, the famous American author proclaimed that the television is an 'idiot box'. At first this argument was simply bolted back by the so-called social philosophers and visionaries. But now, after more than just a few years of this controversial comment, we realise the truth in it. The TV shows have themselves taught us a lesson or two about the stinking nature of Indian TV. The standards are low and the viewership is high. This explains the entire sentiment of the Indian TV show fraternity. They are by themselves a family of their own, with the big fishes getting bigger and the smaller getting smaller. Much like the world-famed Bollywood. While soaps of other languages do run episodes on a higher scale.....the standards and story lines are much more diverse and interesting. Mystery and Murder....the 2 Ms have ruled the popularity charts for years, whether in printed form or in the moving screen. In India, the main focus has been on the life and affairs of a household. A big typical Indian family. The protagonist is usually a 'mama's boy'. His mother is the evil red queen. His brother, even though not favoured by the mom....is always in a struggle to establish his love. The character tends to marry a girl of whom the mother doesn't approve of. An thus starts the decade long tug-of-war between the evil mother-in law and the perfect daughter-in law. This has been the storyline for all Indian shows which run for decades, and often results in the next generation seeing the final episode.

From Malayalam to Kannada, and Bengali to Urdu....all these shows have the same gullible viewers. The old and jobless. TV shows are often related to people who have a sense of loneliness and emptiness in their life, and often use these as an antidote. There are also levels or standards of viewership. While the middle-class and lower-middle class are keen on seeing soaps of their vernacular languages...the self-proclaimed elite are inclined towards the 'hindi' shows, which in reality is the same thing. These shows were targeted to approach the old people who are concreted at home 24X7. But in the last few years,,,the channels have found a new market. The precious youth of India. Romance and Rogue....the 2 Rs which have also found its footing amidst Castle and Criminal minds....has also migrated to India. The youth are in their comfort zone when they see these misleading and time-killing soaps....and end up so infused in it....that they remain glued to the screen at all times. The former market was exploitable and was let to be exploited.....but the youth is not a warm-up match to be staged upfront. The future of India is now under the grasps of actors who are in no way an example to children. The interesting fact is that despite the similarity in the storyline....the people never forget to tune in and watch their favourite show. In fact, a recent survey concluded that the time between 7:30 and 10:00 can be easily described as 'show-time'. The shows start with the actors in tender ages of 18 and 20 and end at 40 and 50 with children of their own. Yet another disappointing factor is that heredity is playing it's part in these soaps.

The show owners usually come out with optimistic and supportive statements about the show.....claiming that their show sends out a message to the public of India. But we are still to find out the hidden message in the morally destructive fights between 'in-laws'. Indians are after all not known for their ability to read between the lines. Unfortunately....India is a country of deep illiteracy. The rates of literacy is slumping by the day, and people are now more gullible than ever. Reports of people attacking film and show actors who play negative roles are more popular than ever. Apparently people are now devoid of the 'line of control' between actuality and fiction.

But having said so, the pros of Indian soaps....though less are masculine in nature. Numerous shows portraying  injustices prevalent in society, seems to be the new trend in town. Whether the motive is 'social welfare' is not the question, because the answer is the opposite. But the need of the hour....is to get the message out to the public. Many shows in various channels have managed to do this. These, though less in quantity.....can and have made a huge impact in our society.

India, from it's time of subsistence, has been widely noted for it's 'under control' heterogeneous society. Though whistles have been blown at times.....the foundation and credibility of this society has never been questioned. This is the very reason why sociologists over time and geographical barriers have taken India as their study material. This kind of society is volatile on all grounds, and is difficult to contain and regulate. Especially in the case of religious integrity and propogative measures. But, this fanaticism has luckily eluded India from time immemorial. An excellent example of this is the high ratings of religious shows. Born into the world of touch screens and motion controllers....our spiritual side is static till our death. But a great initiative by the channels have resulted in a large number of religious shows finding a way to the billboards and popularity boards. Surprisingly, a major part of these viewers are people of the opposite religion. This is encouraging and to some extent unexpected. Stories of gods and saints, give us a concrete idea of an abstract system of superstition. This is highly necessary....and luckily, a good response from TV channels has resulted in the need being fulfilled.

Just like any other thing.....Indian soaps do have their pros and cons. We can't accept it based on a few pros....and neither can we banish it due to a few cons. They need to be at equilibrium.....for proper and efficient running of these shows....which has now diffused into the roots of Indian society.

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