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Friday, February 12, 2010

Raising the question of substance abuse in Hindi Serials

Substance abuse may be defined as the overindulgence in and dependence on an addictive substance, especially alcohol or a narcotic drug. Of the two, drug abuse is far more fatal and dangerous as it has the power to handicap and debilitate the future of our society-the youth of India. Drug trafficking is the third largest business in the world with a turnover of around $500 billions. India too is caught in this vicious circle of drug abuse, and the numbers of drug addicts are increasing day by day. According to a UN report, one million heroin addicts are registered in India.

Drug abuse is a difficult trend which has various social, cultural, biological, geographical, historical and economic features. The break-down of the old joint family system, lack of parental love and care in modern nuclear families where both parents are working, decline of old religious and moral values etc lead to a rise in the number of drug addicts who take drugs to escape hard realities of life. Drug abuse has a damaging impact on society. It has led to increase in the crime rate as incidence of eve- teasing, group clashes, assault and impulsive murders increase with drug abuse.

Given the seriousness of the problem it is strange that the television medium refers to be mum on the subject. Leave alone a whole show, not even a marginal character gets to talk about this grave issue. While the bold new face of Hindi Television is raising its voice about a number of taboo topics, like rape, female infanticide, extra marital affairs, we are yet to come up with shows that also deal with such problems. There are only two exceptions to this. One is a newly started show on Sony Television called Power and the other is a character in Color’s Uttaran called Vansh.

Powder is set in the frightening scenario of substance abuse. Powder is the story of drug lord Naved Ansari and his empire. It tries to provide an insight into the world of drug peddlers and pushers. The vicarious system is often operated by those who are either addicted to the dangerous stuff themselves or those who will never give in to temptation. Powder is also the story of an honest team of officers from the Narcotics Control Bureau led by Usmaan Malik who plans to nab Ansari. The web of power, compulsion, money, values, corruption, justice, and deceit is what powder will take you through on its journey.

Vansh is an important character in Uttaran. He is an addict and has been so since childhood. His struggle to fight off the addiction has been a major turning point of the serial. If Vansh is able to emerge victorious he will help to send out a positive message to other people in the same boat. Uttaran producers deserve a pat on their back for daring to make a ‘junkie’ a major character in the serial, thereby helping to raise awareness about substance abuse.

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