There’s a trending reel that’s everywhere these days – a person follows another person, then starts running behind them. That’s pretty much all of our relationships with Indian TV shows. Some of us hate them out loud, but can’t resist senseless videos that we find on the internet. Others know that they’re pointless, but still wait for new episodes. It’s toxic. We know we deserve better, can’t find it, so end up living with these utterly disappointing shows.
And since, I too have been there, done that, I know that the premise of all these daily soaps is mostly similar. There are typically two categories: A) Family drama based on rich people. B) Family drama based on rich people, with some supernatural shape-shifting character. The first category tries to pretend that they know how the real world works. But they hardly even know how real people talk. Both these categories show families who are privileged, and rich, but hardly go to work. The dream, am I right?
Let’s call the first category ‘vanilla’ and the second, ‘vanilla with sprinkles’. So, vanilla shows have a baa, bahu and a snooty patriarch. There are others who exist for reactions and we can never figure their relationship with the main characters. The premise of this category relies on conflicts. And for some reason, these families have too many nemesis. So, everyday is a new issue, which basically means that these stories suck out whatever little hope we have in life. Seriously, pick any two shows. They start with a man and woman who hate each other. Most times the woman is a damsel in distress, who HAS to marry the man for some weird reason or the other. They get married and the woman ends up as a bahu, who gives up on everything else. We also hardly see her side of the family after that.
Then, there’s the love-after-shaadi angle, the Sima Taparia kind. And just when the main characters fall in love, they start facing conflicts. Then, one of their nemesis tries to separate them and succeeds. That’s where the time leap happens, and our main characters show no signs of ageing. Only, their stylists change. Add murders and kidnapping if it is an Ekta Kapoor show. Every show has mahasaptah(s) where one of the lead characters (mostly the bahu), ends up tripping in things like suitcases or falls of places. She’s not clumsy, they just need a conflict.
For “vanilla with sprinkles”, there are supernatural characters like naagins, spiders, werewolves and more – that’s where they get to be creative. But the rest of the premise remains the same. These characters have all the power in the world, but all they care about is, messing with the Oberois or the Singhanias. My issue is that whenever there’s a new show that’s about to air, they present it as something so fresh. And for some weird reason, we fall for it each time. It starts as something unique, even cool, and *bam* five-ten episodes later, it’s the same hope-sucking drama.
Take Anupama, for example, the show started as this breath of fresh air for women and mothers. But it has all come down to a wicked mother-in-law, some selfish men and a female lead who’s this perfect person. She gives monologues on womanhood, but ends up as a selfless mother and wife. She gets a career, but the writers forget about it midway.
These daily soaps also don’t care about ACTUAL issues of REAL people. Things like inflation, climate change, mental health, a pandemic like COVID – they’re oblivious to these “basic” issues. Oh, and everybody has a mansion. Here we are, living in apartments, where we fight for parking, but these people have an entire zameen to do that. But again, no one goes to work – they all have businesses, and employees who run them. So, it’s all the same, we’re just made to think that they’re not. And THAT is some serious manipulation.
We deserve better than this.