New Delhi, Nov 19 (IANS) Saas-bahu sagas are still a staple for the small screen, but there has been a gradual change in the portrayal of mothers-in-law in serials - from scheming and conniving to loving and understanding.
Zee TV has recently launched 'Dil Se Diya...Vachan', starring Neena Kulkarni, about a deep bonding between a mother-in-law and a daughter-in-law.
Actress Supriya Pilgaonkar, who plays mother-in-law Shailja in the STAR Plus show 'Sasural Genda Phool', says a balance needs to be maintained on the small screen.
'Mothers-in-law are not always bad; they have a good side too. It is necessary to maintain that balance. My character has been shown to have a lot of patience, she is very understanding and wants to keep the family together. She loves her daughters-in-law,' Supriya told IANS.
'It is necessary to encourage balance on what is being portrayed in the shows. People who are not educated often perceive things the way it has been shown on the small screen, which is not always true,' she added.
The change was first noticed in 'Jasuben Jayantilaal Joshi Ki Joint Family' that was telecast on Imagine TV in 2008 as well as STAR Plus' 'Baa Bahoo Aur Baby'.
Among the recent shows showing a positive image of mothers-in-law are 'Sasural Genda Phool'; 'Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai'; and 'Laagi Tujhse Lagan'.
Rajan Shahi, producer of 'Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai', says when it comes to good storytelling, the presentation of characters cannot be one-dimensional.
'It would be wrong to say that mothers-in-law are bad. As the storylines get real, we need to portray realistic characters and when it comes to good storytelling we cannot always show black and white characters or caricatures,' he said.
Sonali Verma, who plays loving and caring mother-in-law Gayatri to protagonist Akshara played by Hina Khan in 'Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai', told IANS: 'I am happy that the meaning of mother in the word mother-in-law is finally being realised. After all, at the end of the day she is a mother who is loving and caring and wants her son's married life to go on peacefully and happily.
'The credit for this goes to the writers. The audience is also getting a chance to see something new and positive.'
Mean mothers-in-law have certainly not vanished from the small screen thanks to Dadisa in 'Balika Vadhu' and Thakuraayin in 'Pratigyaa' - who are all making their daughters-in-law's lives miserable.
Mithali Banerjee, writer of 'Sasural Genda Phool', says negative characters are used in order to add drama to the shows.
'I wouldn't say there has been any shift in the portrayal of mothers-in-law because good mothers-in-law always existed on the small screen. For a serial to survive, it is necessary to have some kind of drama which can only be possible if the show has negative characters also,' she said.
But to those who would get sleepless nights mulling over on-screen saas-bahu tensions, it has certainly come as a relief!
Said TV viewer Anjani Singh: 'I prefer watching serials that have less tension because I get stressed when too much kitchen politics and cruelty are shown. I watch TV for recreation, not to have high blood pressure.'