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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Are Sadhna, Ichcha, Suman… good only because they are ‘yes’ guys?

The clash between individual and a bigger unit, be it the family, peer/professional group or even society, will go on forever. There is a constant push and pull movement that goes on. While the individual will try to push away from bigger unit and its demands; the bigger unity will try to pull in the individual into its vortex of expectations and role playing. In the Western world and the Occidental value system, this conflict has been somewhat resolved with the individual tasting some sort of success. Thus as a result, the ties that a person chooses to honour and commit to (be it primary or secondary relations) is his/her decision solely. In India it is a different story.

India is still a world caught between transitions. Apart from the urban-rural divide (in terms of values and lifestyles), there is the caste factor, the language factor, big town-bigger town reality and a thousand other variables that complicate this equation. There is a world that dresses Indian and yet likes to eat out at McDonalds, sporting the latest hair colour shades. Globalization, standardization, urbanization-the name of the game is different but it throws up complex questions for the individual. On the one hand, the market is egging him/her to throw off all primitive ties and obligations; on the other hand society is putting increasing pressure on the individual to stay true to the bigger group. And nowhere is this reality better expressed than in our serials.

In Hindi serials, the ideal hero is someone who does exactly what his/her elders, societal norms and ritualistic codes expect of him/her. The individual consciousness is totally submerged into the collective one; it is considered ideal if there is no notion of the “individual consciousness”. The individual is expected not to have dreams and ambitions apart from and exclusive of the larger group. Personal goals, personal achievements, private affairs and private thoughts are all frowned upon and viewed as the source of all evil. Having a mind of your own and having a voice to express an opinion is sinful. The individual is expected to be as pliant as a creeper, entwining its existence with that of the bigger, more powerful reality.

Characters like Suman (Palkon Ki Chaaon Mein), Ichcha (Uttaran) , Sadhna (Sapna Babul Ka Bidaai) , Radhika (Chhoti Bahu), Shubh (Swarg) come to mind immediately as individuals who are so enmeshed in the group that they do not even have a shadow to call their own. Individualistic notions and ideals are branded as evil while ‘goodness’ is the sole domain of all those who try relentlessly to negate their uniqueness, their personal hopes and dreams in order to do what the group asks them to. But what is so wrong in doing something that gives one a moment of bliss without it harming anyone else? What is so wrong if the individual wants to walk alone breathing in his share of the air and basking in sunlight meant on for him/her?

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