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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

In Hindi serials content is king, or should we say queen!

The emergence of woman as the centre of narration is perhaps the most heartening aspect of Primetime Hindi Television Serials. And with the passage of time women characters are being etched in their true colours. The striking aspect of all these stories is the fact that they are superb pieces of story-telling. Content is truly king (or should we say queen) in Indian Television. The many unknown (and some known writers) who with their gift of imagination and their powerful pens are able to not only transport us daily into the lives of a ‘Akshara’ or a “Lali” but make them an extension of our ‘real’ world. With the same stroke of pen they have the power to make us fall in love with one character while making us hate another.

In this context I find the situation of Bindiya (Bhagyavidhata, Colors) and Tapasya ( Uttaran, Colors) strikingly similar. In both cases they are married to unwilling partners. While the background to the two marriages are very different (while Bindiya’s husband married her at gunpoint, Tapasya got married to her husband holding the knife over her best-friend’s head), the treatment received by both are almost same. Both husbands are willing to go to any lengths to get rid of their respective wives. While Bindiya’s husband is reluctant to even share the same room with her and expects her to stay in the cowshed; Tapasya’s husband Veer misses no opportunity to shower her with cruel hard words. The lack of respect shown to these two women by the two most important men in their respective lives is at times downright shameful.

But herein we get to experience the mastery of the writers. In Bindiya’s case, she has the viewer’s sympathy and we are all rooting for her; praying for her moronic husband to develop some sense that will help him see her for the wonderful person she is. But in Tapasya’s case the exact opposite sentiment is extracted from the viewers. For the viewer she is evil personified, where no punishment is big enough for her; egging Veer to dump her and return to his true love, Ichchya. We say “bravo” every time she is put in her place. But do we ever stop and consider that at the end of the day these two apparently different characters are standing at the same cross road of their lives. Married to uncaring and unloving husbands, their future is full of uncertainties. But such is the mastery of writing that we are unable to stand back dispassionately and see things as they are. It is the writing that makes Bindiya a ‘heroine’ and Tapasya the ‘anti-heroine’. So here’s to the coming of age of Hindi Serial writing and may they spin a million such wonderful stories of women-flawed, imperfect, ordinary and yet so real, so you and me.

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