Resemblance to actual women is accidental

Have you seen any young people living in urban ghettos, aspiring to a better life, falling in and out of love, or nuclear families coping with the combustible energies of city life, on the small screen? Nah.

When Balika Vadhu first appeared in 2008, we thought, aha, the saas-bahus of the K serials had been vanquished, banished. Soaps began to reflect real problems: child marriage, female foeticide, caste and colour prejudices, etc. But while Balika's Anandi has remarried (yeah, yeah, yeah), she's still someone out of a Rajasthani miniature painting. And Punar Vivaah's Aarti had to pretend she was a widow rather than a divorced woman abandoned by her first husband in order to marry Yash.

The joint family, draped in all its finery, refuses to vanish. Nearly every serial on Star Plus? Ek Hazaaron Mein Meri Behna Hai, Diya Aur Baati Hum, Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai have women living with their husband's families, striving to be the ideal bahu to mothers-in law who are either the stereotypical domineering kind (Diya Aur Baati Hum), or the gentle ones who will do anything for their son, including love his wife (Yeh Rishta). The lead female characters like Sandhya, Akshara and Jeevika in Ek Hazaaron Mein are perfect, plastic characters. So, no matter how unkind, unjust Sandhya's saas is to her, she kowtows before her; and that she is studying must be kept a secret from her or else...

Serials on Zee and Colors have nuclear families or young characters learning to cope with love (Qubool Hai). But they also have Mrs Kaushik Ki Paanch Bahuyein (Zee). And wicked elderly female relatives (Pavitra Rishta, Uttaran). Phir Hogi Subah (Zee), about a young Bedia tribeswoman fighting for her freedom from prostitution who dares to love her Thakur sahib, is now just another costume drama after her marriage to a good man in a loving family. As for Hitler Didi? The very title is offensive. Why not Hitler Dada?

... contd.

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