The other day, I had the misfortune to fall ill and sleep on the couch and watch TV all weekend. Big Mistake. After watching a million reruns of Castle (I will hunt down Richard Castle and marry him someday, yessirree.) and 90210 (What? I was sick ok? I have the right to watch it.) and Scrubs and every other possible show on Star World, I finally found the remote and changed the channel to watch something in Hindi. I figured I would be able to improve my hindi in some way, and not scandalize my poor unsuspecting patients by asking them ridiculously worded questions.
So I put this channel. And this serial is coming. The woman is yelling at her daughter-in-law. After some 20 minutes of yelling, I realize that she's gotten her son married only so that she could find an object of torture on which she can displace her forty odd years of marital frustration. The poor girl gets yelled at for cooking well because this Hitler incarnate feels that this harmless person is trying to usurp her position in the family. By cooking theplas, apparently.
Before I have time to react, another serial begins. (Most hindi serials are 20 minutes of torture and 10 minutes of advertisements) In this one, two 15 year old children are married. *Married*. And the Mother casually asks her older (unmarried) daughter on the phone, 'Beta, we're getting the kids married..can you come early from college today?'
Remember when Baalika Vadhu came out and everyone hailed it as something that would break conventions, stereotypes and expose the rural India's fatalistic beliefs? Well, not exactly. Since the protagonist of that serial is now seen enjoying her 'marital' life by running around the house in pretty clothes, worrying about how much salt to add to the khaana and if her husband is well supplied with his daily dose of jalebis. So much for female empowerment.
Has the portrayal of a woman deteriorated so much in Hindi Serials? Show me one soap where the woman is hailed for being, well, just who she is - a normal person...and I'll show you failed TRPs. Almost everything that comes on TV domesticates the woman like a household cat, which just needs to preen and occasionally purr at people. If the woman is working, then she's either in love with the boss, or the colleague, or just random people. She's not just 'being herself' without the tag of wife/girlfriend/daughter etc.
Why must we be forced to watch pregnant women singing happily about their upcoming babies, married little girls cooking halwas and awkward young women standing in front of random strangers for being 'accepted' as a prospective daughters-in-law?
Feminism in the Hindi TV Serial world has regressed to the 1800s. And we're watching it like unblinking zombies. If the weather hasn't overcooked the grey cells already, then let's just say this has just about burnt it completely.