Let me state, at the very outset, that I hate soap operas with a passion. I rarely watch any and the few that I have come across make me want to scream. On that note, I quite agree with Rashmi Bansal when she says that soap operas need to be responsible to society. The soap in question is titled "Balika Vadhu" and is aired on Colors. It deals with an 8 year-old bride who is put to sleep by "Sasuma" with stories about Rajkumars and is forced to eat after her husband and the other elders of the house and on the plate used by her husband.
The reactions to this are surprising. I am rather shocked to see viewers defend the serial on the grounds that child marriage still happen in India despite the fact that they are banned. Of course it happens in India. But to say that it is acceptable on television because it is a fact is stupid. Let me extend that logic a bit. Bride burning happens in India. Would you accept it if the protagonist in a serial planned to kill the bride? I would not. The fact that something happens does not make it right. What I find even more galling is the fact that the serial is sponsored by the Women and Child Development Ministry, as Rashmi points out in her subsequent post on the issue. The Ministry allegedly wants to create "awareness" about the plight of child brides in India. I doubt portraying a child as a normal bride with normal adjustment problems amounts to spreading awareness. In addition, the protagonist is a child. Ever heard of the rights of children? How can you even think of portraying a child as a normal bride? A child is supposed to enjoy her childhood under the care of a parent and a loving family. What exactly was the Ministry thinking when it decided to extend its support to a serial like this? Sigh!
My grouse is not just against this serial. I hate all serials, as I stressed a while ago. All of them uniformly treat women as some sort of Sati Savitri. Those who are not are the villains of the piece and spend all their time planning to take revenge on other women for some assumed wrong. And if the likes of Ekta Kapoor are to be believed, all good women take all that bullshit lying down and emerge victorious. During my many brief encounters with the K-serials, I came to one, albeit rather comical, conclusion. That all good women wear unpretentious round and red bindis. They wear sindoor in their maang and worship even philandering, corrupt and abusive husbands as God himself. the vamps on the other hand, wear highly elaborate, Sudha Chandran style bindis, in designs ranging from the sun to snakes. They may wear sindoor in their maang too but their husbands are normally hen-pecked and do everything their wives tell them to. Trust me, I have done my research. All K-serials are like that. Now, you must be wondering if I spend all my time watching these serials. The answer is no. You don’t need to. Just pick any random soap opera and watch it for 30 seconds. You will find proof for my thesis. To summarise, I think that the goodness of the television character is inversely proportional to the level of complication of the bindi. I call it Amrutha’s inverse proportionality law. Howzzat??