Author – Swapnil B. Pandey

Saas-bahu-TV-serials
Images – Colors TV

The other day I was watching Game of Thrones on my laptop. My mother was making tea. She placed milk on the stove and rushed back hurriedly to watch her favourite daily soap on TV. A sari-clad woman shouted at another woman.

“Parathe me namak daalna nahi aata, mere bête ka sansaar kaise chalayegi?”

I peeped at the milk on the stove. Thick foam rose. It was about to spill. I glanced back at the laptop. Jon Snow was dying. I ran and closed the gas tap. Milk settled down. Mom smiled and continued watching TV. When I came back, the war was over but I had missed the humdinger. Milk had boiled. Now, my head boiled.

Who on earth can be addicted to this stupid garbage, I thought. After a bit of web research, I was startled by the results that showed. Apparently a whole lot on earth are addicted to this garbage shown on TV.

I decided to dig deeper.

According to the TRP ratings, the following are the current Top 5 Indian TV Shows:

  1. Naagin
  2. Yeh Hai Mohabbatein
  3. Saath Nibhana Saathiya
  4. Kumkum Bhagya
  5. Diya Aur Baati Hum
Nagin-Serial-Aada-khan
Nagin Serial on Colors TV

In this list, there is a family Saas-Bahu show, a supernatural Saas-Bahu show, a romantic Saas-Bahu show and even an action Saas-Bahu show (Yes, the protagonist of Diya Aur Baati Hum is a daughter-in-law cum police officer fighting with dangerous criminals). If you come to think of it, our serials have become like the main course from local restaurants. Kadhai Paneer, Paneer Makhanwala, Paneer Jaipuri, Paneer Butter Masala, etc. Yes, there will be a range of flavours, but there will be Paneer. Like, there will be Saas-Bahu. Always.

So, what did we do to deserve this? Let’s analyze.

The Employment Shift in India

Remember the good old Doordarshan years? The golden era of Indian Television. Shows like Buniyaad, Hum Log, Shriman Shrimati, Ye Jo Hai Zindagi provided quality entertainment seamlessly week after week. Now, if we look at the employment scenario back then, the jobs generally followed the normal shift of 9 A.M. to 5 P.M. Almost like a norm, before sunset, everyone in the family was at home. After finishing the daily household chores, right from the 8:30 PM National News, every family member was glued to the TV. Sitting on beds, sofas, chairs, mats – in the order of seniority.

This allowed Doordarshan to foray into subjects which could cater to people across all genders, classes and age-groups. An elderly grandfather would love Buniyaad, his wife would like Hum Log, her son would watch Shriman Shrimati and his son in turn would be crazy about The Jungle Book. There was diversity in viewers and hence, there was diversity in TV shows.

Prerna-from-kasauti-zindagi-ki-2
Old Serial on Start TV kasauti Zindagi Kay

This is not the case now.

Now the target is smaller than what Abhinav Bindra shot in the Beijing Olympics. A bored middle class housewife waits alone at home while her husband slogs in the office. Orshe is a mother; living in a small town, while her son/daughter works in a metro city. She waits for their calls on weekends. She is spiritless. She is lonely.

The dearth of emotions inside their homes has forced the Indian women to search for them somewhere else. They are the soft targets. Ekta Kapoor is Abhinav Bindra.

The Exaggeration of Connect

The Saas-Bahu shows use that emotional connect and inflate it to the level of mockery. But it doesn’t matter. The connect has been established. The bond has been formed. Now even if Anandi swaps her face as if she had a drum full of Poly Juice Potion or Baa looks the same after five 20 year leaps, we would watch on.

The ladies are enchanted with the world where a supposedly middle class woman adorns more jewellery than Bappi Lahiri; where the Saas is unsure whether her Bahu is a snake or a bee; where every time you turn your face, you turn it thrice, while someone bangs a drum in the background. Thrice…

Dhadan Dhadan Dhadan! Exaggeration, you ask?

The Social Media Hue And Cry

People are screaming their guts out on Facebook and Twitter pages. Memes are being made. Jokes are being passed. Quora is overflowing with questions like “Why can’t India produce a show like Game of Thrones?”Everyone wants to shut these serials down. But who are these people? Who is this everyone?

The majority of the people on social media are of the age-group 15-30. And the majority of people who watch daily soaps are of the age-group 30 and above.

So these two completely different groups don’t intersect. Two completely different points of views. The Indian youth hates the Saas-Bahu sagas. But, the Indian youth doesn’t watch TV. They watch YouTube. They binge watch pirated American sitcoms. They are on the laptop, all the time.

All India Backchod (AIB) and The Viral Fever (TVF) have been loved over the Internet. Series like Permanent Roommates and Pitchers were immensely loved by young people. But when AIB went  a step  and came on the television, with their original show, it didn’t work. It isn’t working.

Is there a Solution?

Oh yes, there is! Grow up, cross 30, replace the majority and then… well, don’t watch these shows. Sounds too far away? Want an immediate solution? Let me turn my face. Dhadan Dhadan Dhadan!

It is time we move over destructive social media shaming and come towards constructive motivation. Buck up the shows which dare to do something different. Encourage the makers to come up with new and innovative ideas. No problem is solved by cursing the problem. A problem is solved by a solution. Let’s come up with the solution.

But till then, whenever you go in the drawing room and spot your Mom intently watching Sasural Simar Ka, twitch your eyebrow up and think loudly like the show’s vamp.

Is kahaani ka anth kab hoga?

Is kahaani ka anth kab hoga?

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