From the very submissive, sari clad, total desi bahus, the female protagonists in Indian television have traveled a long way to emerge as the quintessential Indian women with true ambitions and dynamic attitude. As a child I grew up watching the ever gracious Tulsi Virani and Parvati fight against the evils with all their might and the power of Mangal Sutra. What Indian television painted back then was an image of desi women who were traditional wives, the perfect daughter-in-laws and very sanskari betis.
So what was wrong in it anyway? Nothing much other than that the portrayal somehow exuded the women as the tombstone of sacrifice. Their lives were nothing but a journey where they sacrificed all their aspirations, individuality and desires at every juncture for the sake of others. And what did they gain out of it, the very sought-after title of Sanskari Bahu and ideal house wives. With the TRPs of these popular Saas-bahu shows soaring high, the producers had very few reasons to change the course of their story lines. Shows like Kyunki Saah bhi Kabhie Bahu Thi, Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki and Kasauti Zindegi Ki ruled the small screen back then. There was something very common among all these daily soap operas. And that was a stereotypical woman as their protagonist and an unbelievably attractive woman docked with layers of makeup as their antagonist. It was simply regressive by nature!
Television in India is the most women oriented media, and there is no denying about it. A few hundred satellite channels which almost ransacked your living rooms were beaming with programs squarely aimed at the female viewership of our country. The formula was very simple and it was both coined and pioneered by Ekta Kapoor’s Balaji Telefilms. Not to mention this formula of hackneyed representation of women earned her great moolahs. But the scenario which was most celebrated in the last decade transitioned in recent times.
Thankfully for us, the producers of great Indian television are now taking up subjects to spread social consciousness that would celebrate the spirit of womanhood in a true sense. They have come a long way to create female characters who had the true mix of humble persona, wittiness, gutsy aproach and the power to be a game changer of sorts. She has a distinct career aspiration for which she fights with courage and conviction, like Sandhya in “Diya aur Bati Hum”, she has the valor to inspire others as well as voice against the social evils like Anandi in “Balika Badhu” did, she doesn’t shy away from expressing her love like Zoya in “Qubool Hai”, neither does she fear to marry at a relatively older age like Priya in “Bade Achhe Lagte Hain”.
In simple words, our native television is becoming progressive by nature, wherein the producers are taking up real issues faced by the women of India today. Their focus has shifted from stereotypical house-wives to contemporary women who have a voice of their own. It is good to see the journey of daily soap operas but then you never know when the tables would turn again leading the viewers, to discover yet another facet of how our real society is portrayed in small screen.