When television is more than just a box with moving pictures for someone, they establish a give-and-take relationship with it. So it is only fair that they demand, in return for unwavering devotion and carefully structured time-tables so that each show gets its due, some token amount of honesty and truth. Imagine their disappointment, when one day they switch on their television to want to know what's going to happen to this character who was going to 'fight social injustice', and discover that the only thing she cares about is the injustice of the house keys being given to her jethani!
We look at some such shows that started out as harbingers of change and ended up entangled in kitchen politics. When the oppressor becomes the protector
When Mann Ki Awaaz Pratigya
started, the makers called it "a unique story of a woman who will go to any length to fight for her right". So we're introduced to Pratigya, a modern, educated woman, who loves her family and seems aware of her rights. Then, she's harassed by some roadside romeo and she slaps him. The dude goes to his leader, Krishna bhaiya, and asks him to help take revenge on Pratigya. So far, so good. But when Krishna sees Pratigya, he falls in love with her. So he creates a scene at her engagement, harasses her family and to save her family from further trouble, Pratigya marries Krishna. Wait, what? A few days after the wedding, she tells him that "he can have her body but not her love." This was the point where some people actually barfed, because in what twisted universe do you not only marry the leader of a group of psychotic potential-rapists, but also offer them your body? None of this made any sense, but what made it worse was how Pratigya soon forgot all about her rights and started being the aadarsh bahu
, trying to deal with a tyrannical mother-in-law and befriending the docile jethani
. She transformed Krishna with her love, and eventually ended up giving him her body and soul.
In Na Aana Iss Des Meri Laado
, the central character, Siya, was a driven girl who wanted to fight female infanticide in Haryana. After the initial few successful episodes, Siya falls in love with the son of Ammaji, the chief perpetrator of female infanticide in the village, marries into the family, and manages to transform the husband. Many episodes, twists and turns later, Siya dies, Ammaji fluctuates between hating and loving girl children and the viewer doesn't know what to think of the storyline. From potential IPS officer to potential aadarsh bahu Diya Aur Baati Hum
was about Sandhya, who wanted to become an IPS officer, and according to the title, was to be helped by her partner in this endeavour. Sandhya was pretty damn upset when she ended up marrying a halwai
, but she tried to make lemonade with the lemons. You know who didn't make that very easy? Sandhya's mother-in-law, who wanted her to stay at home and make perfectly circular chapaatis
. So Sandhya tries juggling the two, chakla-belan
and pen-notebook, but eventually gives up on the latter when the saas
uses the choicest Marwari taunts on her. The show tries hard to go back to its original storyline every few weeks, by showing her taking exams or looking longingly at her books, but when she spends more time adjusting her pallu
in front of the sasur ji
than studying for said exams, we all know that the show has lost track. She's started going to night college now with the help of the husband, but her mother-in-law doesn't know that yet, and when shit hits the fan after she finds out, more saas-bahu drama will ensue.
Another show, Afsar Bitiya
, was about a girl who, against all odds, fulfilled her dream of becoming an IAS officer. And then, it looked like the show didn't know what to do with her. So they got her fired from her job, and made Afsar Bitiya
, and got her married into a family with an (surprise, surprise) evil step-jethani
. Do we need to tell you what happens after that? When travails of a junior artiste turned into travails of the chhoti bahu
When Madhubala - Ek Ishq Ek Junoon
was about to go on air, everyone was worried and confused. Is it based on Madhubala, the actress? Is it a memoir? A tribute? The makers screamed themselves hoarse - this isn't about Madhubalaji, it's about the trials and tribulations of junior artistes in cinema, it's about the industry. What they should have said, was that it was just another show about kitchen politics. Because our damsel in distress junior artiste first married her tyrannical senior artiste (in a shaadi
with just chaar phere
, not saat
, hence the husband dismisses the marriage in every second episode) and since then, has been fighting to win the respect of her mother-in-law, while battling her elder sister-in-law who is also her husband's ex. We're getting a bit concerned here. What is with damsels marrying the distress-causers? Masochistic much? In which the makers wriggle out by blaming the TRPs
Makers have often put the entire blame on the viewers, saying that they get the highest TRPs when they show saas-bahu
drama. We have a theory. Every viewer has a different way of dealing with a show gone awry, but they all experience the five stages of grief. What makes a difference is where they stop. Denial (no, they can't do this to my show, I am sure this nonsense will last just one episode) or anger (how dare they do this to my show? I stopped watching the other show for this one) or bargaining (dear makers, if you end this track in the next few days, I will continue watching or else, bye bye), or depression (this used to be my favourite show, I don't know what to do with life anymore), or acceptance (looks like there's no way out, let's just watch this shit).