If you know anything about Indian television, you probably associate it with typically melodramatic saas-bahu sagas that defy all logic.
However, you'd be surprised to know that way before Ekta Kapoor took over with her K brigade, Indian TV offered some extremely sophisticated and entertaining shows. Hip Hip Hurray, Malgudi Days and Dekh Bhai Dekh are just some of the shows that managed to portray all the facets of human emotions in an extremely tasteful way.
These shows were not just about entertainment but had much more to say. And sometimes, they were way ahead of their times.
One such show was Alpviram, which came out in 1998, and dealt with issues that haven't ever been picked up by any other show after.
The story revolves around the life of 21-year-old Amrita.
She seems like a happy and healthy girl till one day, when she faints and is rushed to the hospital. She never wakes up and goes into coma. While the doctors try to solve the medical mystery, Amrita's grandparents run out of money to foot the hospital bills. On the other hand, her fiance, Rohit, is being pressurised to marry another girl. A year passes by and Amrita shows no improvement.
Amidst all the issues cropping up, it is found that she is 3 months pregnant. Someone raped her while she was in coma.
What follows is a heart-wrenching story of her helpless grandparents who want justice for their once happy and healthy Amrita, a fiance who fights for his love under parental pressure and accusations of rape on a girl whose bodily integrity was snatched away from her under the most vulnerable circumstances.
Out of the various suspects ranging from hospital staff to even Rohit, it is finally discovered that the senior most doctor in the hospital committed the heinous crime.
What is commendable is the maturity with which the issue of rape was dealt with. While the 21st century often tends to look at rape survivors as 'damaged', this 20th century show's culmination is what we should learn from today.
Amrita does wake up to the cruel reality of her rape and pregnancy. As she goes through an emotional turmoil, her grandparents and Rohit support her at every step. She decides to keep the baby and goes on to marry Rohit who proves that true love is supporting the other person at every cost.
While the cast of the show was strong with Sulbha Deshpande, Pallavi Joshi, Anjan Srivastav, Aamir Bashir and Vikram Gokhale, even the makers deserve an applause for using their craft in the most sophisticated way. They could serve as major inspiration for TV producers of today on how to bring forth issues that are mostly kept hidden.
While most shows today promise to show us real issues and end up resorting to amplified family drama that goes on and on, Alpviram was wrapped up in just 85 episodes.
However, in this short length of time, the show gave us a standard that no other show has been able to match, yet.
It's time that rape is presented with utmost sensitivity on-screen because there's no stronger way to change people's perception around it than using the tools of entertainment.
When people are watching a TV show, they're also internalizing what's shown. Therefore, such shows can majorly help in making people aware and try to erode the stigma around rape survivors.
It is, hence, extremely important that writers today derive inspiration from a show like Alpviram.