In an era, where running a TV channel is considered a really lucrative business, competition is high pitched, with the channels battling out to grab a lion’s share of the TV audience. The hindi channels, though my understanding of them is limited, has led me to believe that they rely on their long running soaps (the kinds of Ekta Kapoor’s “K series”) and the innumerable game shows that glitter with celebrities from the Bollywood, to boost their viewership levels.
My earliest recollections of a hindi mega serial that ran for days and days together is “Junoon”, which incidentally got dubbed into Tamil, triggering an entirely new domain of tamil lingo and jumbling up of word order. Aditya Dhanraj, Keshav Khalsi (played by Tom Alter), Mini Agarwal (played by Kitu Gidwani), Seema, those are a few names that I can remember now. I am reminded of how I hated Mini Agarwal for the vamp that she used to be and her dad, do I sound right, when I recollect that he actually was handicapped? Memories ah!
Moving down south and fast forwarding several years, to about five years back, we arrive at a period where mega serials started influencing the popularity of tamil channels. Serials like “Chitti”, “Annamalai” and the present super hit with most of the homes, “Metti Oli” belong to this genre. How could I forget Balachander’s serials like “Kayalavu Manasu” that dripped with melodrama?
I can’t explain how much the recent serials put me off. I return home at around 9, when “metti oli” would just begin. I would vent out all my frustration about the serial over the dining table, Poor mom! And I would just run into my room shutting the door behind. I just hate the ideas they propagate. What “hate”, Gosh, I can’t stand them!!
I see my emotional grandparents sob silently as the so called sacrificing cum patient females weep buckets and buckets in that idiot box. God, I don’t know how directors build such story plots. The central characters (esp. in Chitti/Annamalai) are seen smiling in the first five days of the serial. After that, they meet challenges from all possible spheres and they won’t strain a single muscle on their face to smile. They just draw a blank face and of course, weep.
And the torture can come in various forms – an unrelenting MIL (she is the villain in most women’s lives) as she pours out dialogues that a normal human would think a million times to speak. Even, if it’s a serial, come on ya, give me a break!! However, fictitious you claim them to be, there is a limit to stretching the gap between the good and the evil. The extent to which you can do that also has limits.
The serials are over crowded with bad characters with only a handful of the supposedly, selfless and infinitely patient souls. Torturing husbands who side their ever-reigning moms also find a frequent slot. And as the plot evolves, cunning characters crop up and disappear or stay till the end, to achieve their character moksha, a complete personality clean up aided by the ‘goodness’ of the central woman.
It isn’t difficult to assess the kind of impact it would have on the psyche of people watching such serials. With cable television, almost having become an integral part of most of the households, I wouldn’t doubt the capability of such serials influencing the mentality of the viewers. For children, this is more damage than one could ask for. It just ruthlessly shatters their innocence. From playing games with Barbie dolls, they would probably imitate a fight sequence between a MIL and her dotter-in-law. Who knows?
There is a famous quote that goes, “Children are like wet cement, whatever falls on them makes an impression!” these serials are unconsciously imbibing the wrong qualities in children.
Talk about elders. With already so much unrest bothering their minds, they would sit and watch such serials till they go to sleep and any kind of insecurity that they might already possess, only gets complicated through views propounded by such ‘master pieces’. They tend to believe that the old are left to suffer and you simply can’t blame them for that. Believe me, I am seeing live examples before my eyes.
My granny gets easily confused and mixes stories and characters, across the six and odd mega serials that she watches through the length of the day. Its so funny to watch her actually asking my grandpa doubts on serials, who is much better in keeping track of stories. He would only blame her for her forgetfulness and continue to shed a tear or two, for the poor soul who would actually be subjected to torture in an ongoing serial. Kadavuley, idhu nattukku thevaya?? I only hope that this gets to change some day.. to hell with mega serials!!