What’s wrong with our TV?

Very real Reality Shows

Ok, so there is nothing interesting happening on TV. Whatever is being churned out is highly mediocre, predictable and unintelligent. Reality shows are hardly real. Their larger than life portrayal is what makes them that much more difficult to digest. The plots, the dramatic music, the twists, the turns, the fake fights, the scandals are all well thought out and well rehearsed. Every tear that is shed on a reality show is scripted and well practiced, to the extent that the exact moment when the cameras will face the person shedding that tear and wipe it very, very aesthetically is decided. But most of us buy that, don’t we? That’s how real and convincing they make it look. We Indians are, by nature, a sentimental lot. Sob stories sell quickly and touch a chord with us. We connect better with people who are leading hard, struggling lives, don’t we? Ever wondered why almost every participant in the hot seat on KBC is oh-so-terribly poor?

There was a time, in 90s, when Hindi serials were so interesting. There was so much happening. It felt like the whole industry was riding a new wave, trying to change mindsets, breaking free from many a orthodox boundaries, projecting new ideologies, giving progressive messages and showing a better way to lead life in general. I remember serials like Campus, Dekh Bhai Dekh, Hip Hip Hurray, Rishtey, Zabaan Sambhal ke, Antakshari and many more that excelled in their own genre.

When India was just about entering a phase of globalization and liberalization and coming to terms with the influx of foreign channels and their extremely ‘modern’ shows, Indian Telly behaved like it has to be on it toes always, to keep up with the foreign competition.  The Indian Telly content focused on urban India and its challenges. It showed women in a better light. They were modern, educated, chic, progressive in thoughts and willing to break barriers. They taught Indian women that they had every right to all things good. Just like men have. They dressed normally, like how you and I do in our routine every-day life. They didn’t wear hideous make up and wear excruciatingly heavy zari-mari  sarees, which women in today’s soaps wear. They lead realistic lives; they were fiercely independent and worked for a living.

In today’s soaps, what role a woman plays? She decks up to the nines for every single shot, wears an inch thick layer of makeup and is seen sashaying down the house doing what? Nothing. Or probably she is just scheming, plotting or making ploys with obvious loopholes to make even with her saas/devrani/jethani/doosri aurat. Basically, she is shown like she is someone who possesses ‘zero’ IQ and who is nothing more than some dolled-up pretty Barbie. If at all she is shown like she is cooking something in the kitchen (yes in that unbelievable heavy bridal-kind of outfit), she will just be stirring something at the most, to make it look a bit real.

At any point of time, she is shown to be in one of the following stages:

  • Engaged
  • About to be married
  • Just married
  • Expecting a child
  • On the brink of divorce

The Tele-Wedding

Ya, Hindi serials revolve around marriages, engagements and pregnancies.  The zillion rasams and insanely ostentatious ceremonies make you feel like you are watching some wedding CD over and over again… Hum Aapke Hain Kaun style. They spin wonder stories and these extra-showy and flambuoyant marriages raise the bar for that poor middle-class Indian who wants to mindlessly ape these weddings and replicate the same in his daughter’s wedding.  Speaking of weddings, wedding industry is one of the biggest in India. Any doubt now why? Even in recession, this industry is hardly affected. That must say something about our obsession with big fat Indian weddings. Is there anyone who doesn’t love a big, blingy wedding? Coming back to the point, no wedding is shown without some shadow lurking over it. Some ex, some enemy, some secret person from the past is always waiting on the fence to pop his ugly head at the most inopportune time, just when the ‘dulhan’ is going to take her saat-pheras. How real, nay?

Ok, so once she does manage to get married without major glitches, she is forever embroiled in some larger-than-life and hard to believe drama. Or she is forever making sacrifices for the good of others. She delays her own happiness, and is willing to be misunderstood at every vital twist in the story (again if there is any). She won’t clarify things ever and lets them become messier with every passing day. She waits for time to do the right thing. After all, time heals everything, right?

And I don’t know why she is always so self-righteous and has at least a thousand morals and codes of conduct even when everyone else around her is being mean to her? She is very Sati-like really. She endures all torture and bears all brunt for things she didn’t do.

Oh yes, and not to forget, almost every Hindi serial is showing a picture of a very very sorry rural life. And even serials that show Indian urban lives have characters that behave in the most dehati fashion. And what I fail to understand is why are they always shown to be such big business tycoons? How many of us in real life are ‘that’ rich? They are all stinking rich on TV. But they almost never go to work, sparring a scene or two in a couple of months. Because they are forever embroiled in some mindless drama, where the solutions are so obvious even to a wench, but they elude them.

So much for reality!

After repeatedly watching this on TV, over every channel on every other show, I wonder what are the directors thinking? What are the actors thinking? Hell, what are the women thinking? It bothers me no end. Why not show women in a realistic light? Why not show her career oriented? Why not show her intelligent? Why not show her as someone who is real, who is not painfully perfect, someone who has flaws, someone who has human-like negative traits also? I have sworn off TV. I love channels like Travel and Living, NDTV Good Times, Food Food more.

I think shows in 90s were much superior and refreshing than what we see today. They had a rebellious streak in them. They wanted to see a developed India. They wanted to bring about a ‘change’.

What we see today is truck load of crap. And it is setting the country behind. Because a vast majority still lives in rural areas. And when they see these mindless soaps, they feel this is how rich and famous behave, this is how life in metros is. Can’t be farther from reality, can it?

P.S: And for heaven sake, women in India are not forever in the process of being married, or getting married, or having a baby, or getting divorced. Sigh! Is that all that happens in a woman’s life!

Here is a similar post I did right at the beginning of this humble blog.

13 thoughts on “What’s wrong with our TV?

  1. Awesome blog! Completely agree with the 90s serial’s part. Those were indeed legendary. I am sad for kids of today. They really have nothing to enjoy or learn from that idiot box!

    • haha Pure Gold 🙂 Those 5 stages are outrageous but true..In Hindi serials i mean.
      Uffffff itna pressure hota hai ek ladki pe..shaadi ka 😛
      And these serials only make it worse
      yes, your mom should read this;) I will wait for her comments 🙂

      • haha.. you didn’t need to add ‘..In Hindi serials i mean’ 😀

        Haan.. you must be going from the same phase, I guess 😉

        I made her read it, she had a great laugh. She said, “ab tv pe to yahi sab ayega na, varna interest nahi ata logo ko jab tak kuch bada na ho serial me” and “tum log dekhte hi kyu ho aise serial, aate hai to ane do” 😀

      • Namaste Auntyji…Words of Wisdom you gave.. we should just turn away from this crap..
        But Tapish, do you know why i end up watching it on an on and off basis… just to know how crappy crap can get..

  2. You said it all, Zinal. I too feel and think the same. Even my fav serials are those of 90s. Just like you very rightly mentioned, hip hip hurrey, rishtey, Banegi aapni baat and (if I remember it right a serial called) thoda hai thode ki zaroorat hai. But in last few years, I have hardly seen any serial on television. May be it will take sometime for KBC makers to realize that, only people coming from small villages and towns having all the problems in the world do not need to have the fastest fingers in their hands. 🙂 But for that we the audience need to change.

    • Yes, of course i remember those serials… they were really good.
      Yes, i feel small town people may have the fastest fingers after all 😉 lol
      Thanks for taking time out to comment 🙂

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