The ‘idiot box’ is one of the most important sources of entertainment in our lives. It came long before the digital gadgets and captured our every emotion. How much ever we argue about its ill effects and criticize what we see, but we all our ‘favourite TV serials’. We give them TRP, and we get entertainment in return. They are more like a stress-buster for many, might be an inspiration for a few, mostly a time killer and sometimes an addiction too. But, at the end of it, they are supposed to be fun and entertaining. But, a lot has changed over time.
Recently, a few months back, there was a big hue and cry about a prime-time show on TV which depicts an implausible ideology of a marriage between a 19-year old protagonist with a 10-year old boy under the pretext that this move was for the boy’s protection. A concerned mother and a responsible citizen filed a petition, which received an overwhelming response and reached Smriti Irani with a request to ban this how. Honorable Minister, Smriti Irani took a prompt action against the show and further investigations are in process.
This made me ponder over the fact whether we are watching things that are progressively building a positive outlook for us and our younger generations or we are gradually molding our minds towards ‘dumber’ ideological beliefs, and using the ‘idiot box’ just for entertainment. Well, I think many of us will agree that most of the shows now-a-days are no-brainers. Though they can invoke human emotions like laughter, happiness or sorrow, but only at a superficial level; they simply fail to inspire or motivate us in any way unlike many serials for the yesteryears.
Today, the protagonists of these serials do not inspire us, they just involve our minds in different emotions. Whereas, we have seen some of the most powerful characters on television evolve through TV serials. In our childhood, we have been inspired, enthralled, and excited by so many wonderful daily soaps and their varied characters.
Let us take a look at some of the most powerful female protagonists of TV serials, who have left a mark on our minds.
Rajani (Priya Tendulkar) of Rajani: This was one of the first soaps to have a powerful and prominent female protagonist on Indian television. Fighting against the prejudices associated with Government offices and officials made Rajani a household name.
Kalyani Singh (Kavita Chaudhury) of Udaan: A woman in the forces and fighting to find a name for herself in a male-dominated world was an inspiration for many young girls of that time. Her challenges, her dreams, her relationships- everything seemed so real. Inspector Asha (Ashwini Kalsekar) from CID was a strong female lead and we loved her.
Shanti (Mandira Bedi) of Shanti- Ek Aurat Ki Kahani: WE loved this soap. Though it is a bit high on drama, but a woman’s struggle was beautifully brought out in the show, and all the characters seemed to fit so well. Even, Varsha (Mona Ambegaonkar) of Nyay was portrayed so effectively.
Radha (Sangeeta Malik) and Maria (Rama Vij) of Nukkad: This is one serial which touched so many lives in so many different ways because the characters were so real and so varied. Radha, who worked as a maid and Maria, the teacher seemed the ‘girls next door’. People could relate to them so easily and spontaneously.
Kokila Kulkarni aka Koki (Reema Lagoo) and Prema Shalini (Archana Puran Singh) of Sriman Shrimati: Who can forget these leading ladies from some of the best comedy soaps on television. They were no less in this genre than their male counterparts. The laughter riot continued with serials like Dekh Bhai Dekh, Hum Paanch and others, and the female characters can claim every bit of credit for this. A special mention for Renu (Swaroop Sampat) in Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi, who seemed like a regular housewife, but with an unmatched humorous side.
Tulsi (Smriti Irani) of Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi: Finally, came the era of saas-bahu K-dramas, and this changed the entire face of Indian television. They revolutionized drama, either for good or for worse. (I leave it to the audience to decide). But, Tulsi and Parvati became household names, and they still had some strong messages to deliver, unlike today’s daily soaps.
These are just a few examples and there are many more from the different genres of serials. So, I guess modern serials have a lot to learn about how to make a place in the hearts of the audience and not just boast themselves based on TRPs.
Today, the socio-political environment of the country needs more strong, powerful, closer to reality and motivating protagonists, both male and female, and not just dummy, fabricated, Tinseltown hero or heroines.
A huge population in India spends a considerable amount of time in front of the TV watching daily serials, and imbibing a lot from them. And, being emotionally vulnerable, we try to relate to these shows and mold our minds.
So, I guess giving them good food for thought, progressive messages and better role models are the least that they can do, even it is for entertainment. Then, probably the ‘idiot box’ wouldn’t be that idiot anymore.
An ending note: The show is back with a new name and star cast, and this time with a better storyline and hopefully no controversies. Let’s see whether it is some exciting plot or the same old storyline to make the idiot box look more idiotic.