Meaningfully Mindless


You are tired after a long day.. whether you work from an office or from home, whether you do a lot, or nothing. The daily grind does suck the life out of you! Tune into a ‘meaningful’ news channel, and all you get to see is scams, scandals and unimaginably horrendous crimes that make you lose faith! This is where ‘mindless’ television serials step in, to rescue us.

Tune into ANY Indian entertainment channel.. Star, Sony, Colours..etc. there are all the SAME!

The same glamorous bungalows, where nobody seems to have a 9-5 job like the rest of us mere mortals do, the same women dressed in all their finery, wondering who is plotting against who!

Watching the same shocked expression on every family member (in slow motion) can actually be quite therapeutic. Because it is in these moments, that I do not have to think! I get to ignore (albeit temporarily), the bills lying on the table, the books yearning to be read and the empty dishes that will soon have a dry crust!

How much effort can it take to watch a ‘mother in law’ dressed in finery, authoritatively telling her meek son and pretty daughter-in-law with long flowing hair (who by the way, is also decked in jewellery like she is a walking banner advertisement for a jewellery store!) what to do. How much do you really exert your senses to watch another grandiose creature ‘plotting’ to kill her own sister or sister-in-law for some vague reason that nobody remembers?! See, that is where Indian soaps can help us unwind. Watch it in zombie mode, and you will eventually realise that your office related stress is perhaps preferred ;-)

So what is wrong with Indian television? (asked HT, and loads of us bloggers replied). Here’s what:

  1. ‘Super-women’: Almost all our programmes are women-centric. ‘Now what’s wrong with that??!’ The problem is, every protagonist is not just an average woman but a super-woman! Quiet, ‘docile’, woman of ‘inner strength’ (how do you even measure that???!!), dons a pallu and covers her head in the presence of elders, addresses her husband with a ‘ji’ suffix! Whatever happened to women who need not be perfect, and who need not be on a pedestal??! How about a normal women, perfect with all her imperfections?!
  2. Sense and sensibility: I know I said Indian television is therapeutic. Even in that ‘paradise’ however, we do need some semblance of sense and sensibility. Will it harm us too much, if we made more programmes like ‘Satyameva Jayate’ or ‘Laakhon mein ek’?!
  3. REAL problems: In the same vein, I wonder why every second story depicts the ‘trials and tribulations’ of a new bride in a joint family, or a girl who is unable to find a ‘suitor’ at all?! What about REAL problems like eve-teasing on the roads, gruesome rape in a moving bus, the ability to balance a good career with family-life? Will we ever get to watch a programme made about people like you and me?!
  4. Mush overdose: Ok, I’ll confess. I like M&Bs. I think they score much better than the over-rated ‘fifty-shades-series’. But the mush in our serials is a serious over-dose! Imagine copying some of romantic scenes – the gazing in eyes –soft background score – caresses in ‘slow motion’. Euuuggghh…gaze into my eyes for 2 minutes and I’ll wonder if you’ve lost it!!!
  5. Ancestral property: I have seen just one bungalow in my entire life. And even that was minuscule in comparison to the HUGE houses that feature on television! Can we get more real, please?
  6. Mini-Bollywood scenes: Forget the trauma of watching an overweight Ram Kapur romancing ‘oh so perfect’ Parvati bhabhi! What’s with soaps aping Bollywood romance? Show some creativity, folks!
  7. Hair: Yes, you read it right. Hair. I really do not get the point about every female protagonist having long, luscious, shiny black hair. How do they go about their daily life? Cooking? Cleaning? Just .. living?!! You want to make a woman-centric programme? Go ahead, do it. But please, show someone with normal dry/limp/frizzy hair! I promise you, it will not affect your TRPs!
  8. Where are the children? : Nobody is ever prepared for parenthood. When it strikes, it sucks you into an endless cycle of nappies, runny noses, bruises! Where have all the children disappeared from our television serials? The few kids that are infact around, only do a cameo! (But hey, to be fair, I guess being a parent myself, if I had to watch one more crying baby on TV, I might just suffer a breakdown!! Okay, I’ll leave the kids out!)
  9. Regressive dressing: One look at the attire of the artists, and you know exactly what is wrong. Heavy silks, light chiffons, matching heavy jewellery – makes me wonder if we are indeed living in the 21st century or some medieval era?!
  10. Recession, really? One unique feature in every soap that never ceases to amaze me is: None of the actors EVER has a 9-5 job. What is the scene? Recession or Ancestral wealth?!

So yeah, our soaps are absolutely mindless. However, since they do help the ‘unwinding’ process, it would be nice to infuse a teeny weeny bit of sense into these programs,. That would just ease our way back into the ‘real’ world the next morning!

22 thoughts on “Meaningfully Mindless

  1. I hear you, although I don’t find the shows all that therapeutic myself.

    Me and DH recently ditched our 9-5 jobs and switched to a more wholesome lifestyle. Back when we were in Canada, though, we were actually working more like 9-midnight type hours, and I guess we did fall into our own little unwinding rituals. I think all couples who work long hours have these.

    For us, on most days, this involved a quiet dinner, some small talk, and a nice drink, which was followed by getting into bed and watching some random nature documentary, or something calming like that, almost on mute. We never actually decided on this ritual consciously.
    It just kind of turned into a rhythm, and to me, there were few things more relaxing than getting myself out a suit (and heels!) after a 14 hour day, lying back on a warm bed right next to the hubby, switching off my BlackBerry, and staring at the ceiling with a soothing documentary running in the background.

    I suppose I just find the Hindi soaps too ‘loud’ to unwind with, and DH, of course, has no love lost on Hindi soap operas whatsoever.

    The thing about Western TV shows is that a lot of the protagonists are people you can actually identify with. They are the sort of folks you might expect to meet on the street, or at work, or at a friend’s party.

    On the other hand, the sort of people depicted in Indian dramas don’t even seem to actually exist. It’s very hard to identify with a character whom you have precious little in common with, in terms of either attitude or situation. And without identification, there is no immersion, which results in a mindless, meaningless program, stretched on and on by the most transparent plot devices. The added sexism and traditionalism is, for me, the final nail in the coffin, and that’s that. Back to my nature documentary, and yes, I suppose I’m a rather boring person. :p

  2. Errr…you doing a PhD on Indian Television serials??

    But loved your take honestly..its so so true…I DONT WATCH any serials at all..the last thing I saw on TV was Satyameve Jayate…

    My MIL loves watching those serials though..so we do get glimpses of it when they come to Bombay…and then there is this Asianet channel which has really really scary serials in Malayalam baap rey *Shudders*

  3. Now and then something happens in the universe that makes me thank my stars of having a family that agrees with me about not subscribing to cable television. Today, it is your post.

  4. The less said about the Indian soaps the better.

    You know why do they show these kinds of shows? Because people watch them, a couple of years back they had come up with a show called “Ladies Special”, it talked about the trials & tribulations of ladies like u & me. It was such a refreshing one I tell you but then it was plucked out within few months. Reason? No viewership! Sony has always tried to bring different serials, like Jassi Jaisi Koi nahin, Ladies Speicla, Saaya etc but as ppl don’t watch it they have stopped showing that type.

    These days they begin a serial with so called different theme but later they are all converted to same old Saas Bahu Saga with nobody having a hair out of place and wake up with 10inch make up on their face!!! gaah!

  5. Hahah I love your observations!

    In fact I remember reading this one time about why there are rarely any scenes of men-folk in office or going about their jobs (only exception was Jassi jaisi koi nahin where the story itself was centered in an office, and even that serial too degraded to a typical soap drama after awhile). It was because the target audience (housewives, or rather homemakers in the rural areas, who actually have the time to watch it, and lap it up regularly) do not identify with or understand these offices scene hence it affected TRPs and they had to cut that out.

  6. You know what, there was a time when I was sucker for all these hindi dramas and soaps… to extent that I used to hang up on calls to ensure disturbance free tv viewing. but mera hogaya! can’t take it anymore, its only comedy central, star world for me,cartoon network too helps! I am not letting Hindi serials fool me again ;)

    PS: I am back!

    1. Yay you’re back! ! Where have you been btw? Yep there was a time when I actually used to watch kasauti zindagi ki.. After her third marriage and second step child and ex Mil entered the scene even I could not take it any more. .hee haw :)

  7. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at this point. But you know what you are right 100%. That is the whole reason I don’t watch Indian soap anymore because it was doing my head in. And come on, no body wants to see frizzy hair women with split ends. They all have to have beautiful hair. I like long beautiful hair. yahhhhhhhhhhh. :)

    HARRY

    1. Ha ha. . Trust you to say that Harry. . Yes I get your point. . There won’t be many takers for a heroine with frizzy hair and split ends. . Sigh! ! Guess it is best to watch with eyes closed; ) that’s why I called it mindless ;)
      Btw I am really touched that you still follow my blog. . Its been such s long time! !

  8. For me more therapeutic is Tom & Jerry or SAB TV though it is considered downmarket by the mod gen.
    Serials are another name for Balaji and you can’t expect sense and sensibility from them as the lady at the helm herself is quite lost in an artificial existence. The key plot is all her brain wave if she has one. May be she has considering the money she is minting out of these mindless run-away hits considering the TRPs or are they rigged?And that proves that a Dior outfit, a Jimmy Choo dangling from your freshly waxed and bleached arm, state-of-the-art jewellery ( well, actually I don’t know what that means really, but read it recently in connection with Piggy Chops’ superb dressing sense, so I guess that must be the latest in vogue) and diamond encrusted stilletoes do not make one progressive. And BTW she needs regular visits to the Dentist, if you ask me, for those plaqued rows ( bitchy ain’t I?) Heeeh…Heee

  9. I have stopped watching them a long time back. My mind starts going numb if I watch any of them for more than 5 minutes. Someone has to be really dumb to enjoy them.

  10. For me, it has been a straight leap from the fire to the frying pan. At first, it was the addiction towards these soaps coz of the suspense that ends with each slot…and i was glued in too. Then, it finally dawned on me that there is not going to be a logistical end & further, when i couldnt keep track of its umpteen side plots, I stopped watching them and fell into the firepan..err..’facebook’. So huge is the addiction that even now as i was reading this post, i was hunting for the ‘Like’ button near each of your points to show my full agreement with what you said.
    Brilliantly summed up, Pal! :)

    1. Oh yes sk.. fb is like a vacuum cleaner. .just sucks you in! ! But it is better than soaps any day don’t you think? At least we get to discuss some interesting topics :)

  11. I like your observations. I so agree with you on regressive dressing and the hair. One thing I have seen in the TV soaps is that all those women clad in sarees or the indian wear are good folks and the ones dressed in western clothes are the vamps!!!

    #confession I do watch TV soaps provided their male protagonists are hot ;)

  12. :D
    I agree with you!!
    that’s why I don’t watch hindi serials except Adalat which I like!
    and all this regressive entertainment gets on one’s nerves!!

  13. My grand-mother used to watch a couple of serials in the evening. Even though my room door is closed, the sound of TV comes inside and I was following one of those serial via audio! To escape it, I started listening to music, but the suspense was getting all-over me and I started ‘following’ to the serial once again. Whatever they may or may not do right, these serials definitely know how to hold our attention!!

    Destination Infinity
    LOL!!! That’s cute :-)

  14. Not to mention the fact that given any time of the day the women are always looking fresh and decked up! Thats why I just watch Fox Crime and Star World :D

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