The atrocities in the name of entertainment shown on television are appalling these days. I am not sure about national television but the daily soaps aired on the regional channels are getting regressive by the day fanning the imagination of impressionable people who believe whatever’s shown on these telly shows is reality. Unfortunately, the TV runs from 6 pm to 11 pm in my house too and the sycophantic rantings, background music crescendos, emotional ramblings and queasy confessions become ambient sound for these five hours. Particularly irritating is this soap called Tomay Amay Mile. The story is about a girl who aspires to be an IAS officer but is forced to marry an illiterate son of a bitch who runs a sweet shop in some godforsaken mofussil. She sighs and sacrifices, never complains but compromises at every step. She is the good wife. Unfortunately the bitch of a M.I.L. doesn’t seem to agree. Which is why the innocent bouma and the hubby never sleep on the same bed! While he sinks into the comfort of the vintage four-poster, carved, oakwood bed, she happily accepts her place on the floor, accepting her discomfort as a blessing. Talk about pre-marital sex… On Indian television, even marital sex is a taboo. Chi! We are Indians after all.
That’s why the bahus on Indian television have to prove their worth not outdoors but indoors. Winning the para ranna (cooking) competition is far greater bliss than dreaming of achieving your dreams of being an IAS officer. Tauba tauba. I am an Indian daughter in law. My aspiration is as high as the pressure cooker ceetee is loud.
There is this other serial called Jol Nupur which is about this young classical dancer from Orissa who gets married into a Bengali household. Come again? Dancer? Naachnewali?? No wonder she is driven out of her home after being falsely accused (predictably, she’s framed by the conniving cousin! How can a pristine – read VIRGIN, because Indian bahus don’t have sex with their hubbies unless it is to give an heir to the household – innocent girl scheme such?) of stealing jewellery. Come to think of it – a nautch girl as a daughter in law?? Hai hai. Of course, the dunce of a husband supports his joint family’s decision of driving the bahu out of home because he drank his mother’s milk (maine maa ka doodh piya hai... ).
Uneducated, hapless village girls being married off to rich pricks are rampant on these channels propelling the popular notion of men as saviours. Once they arrive at their sasurals, they are ridiculed because of their rustic-ness. The irony works. The viewer knows that rustic equals innocence and uneducated and helpless equals goodness. Thus most negative women characters in these serials dress more modernly and speak a smattering of English, often have respectable jobs and are shown to be independent while the ‘good’ bahus are rustic bums speaking in weird dialects, uneducated, underdogs – who eke out a life selling their souls to pain and suffering and mouthfuls from their M.I.L.s and the society in general. But we are Indian women. Arre, how can we pursue education when we have to juggle between doing hubby’s laundry and making him luchi and aloor dum.
Misogyny sells as good as sex and phuchka. Take a look at Indian advertisement in the last three years. How many ads do we recall show women NOT as housewives or mothers or serving their hubbies or as dumb seductresses? Hardly any. Worse. Have you noticed how most health drink commercials feature boys? How most commercials harping on the sharpness of the kids’ minds feature only the male child? While the housewife runs around the house doing chores, the husband watches TV till he hears the wife wince out of pain. A non-sexual massage of a certain ointment and he makes sure that the wife is ready to do some more running around for now their son also comes traipsing into the frame (Aww, just when wifey thought she would steal a hug or a kiss from hubby. Chi! Sharam karo!).
A perfectly misogynistic ad that runs currently is that of a mobile service provider. The commercial features two girls in what looks like a Karate class. They are both dressed in their uniforms and await their turn at sparring. One of them just got lucky. She gets to hear the Hanuman Chalisa on her, hold your breath, fancy tablet smartphone! That too in a dojo (the Karate training centre) where utmost discipline and decorum are advocated. There’s nothing wrong with the Hanuman Chalisa bit. What I’m questioning is are the girls so spoilt out of their wits that they don’t realize that they are breaking decorum? (I can’t imagine doing that during my Karate class for fear of being rebuked by my respected Sensei.) These girls are probably two of those airheads whose parents are already saving to get them married to “handsome, fair ladka of same caste based in the UK/US or Kanaada(!). Or else, they are just plain DUMB. But what’s the graver offence here? Listening to the Hanuman Chalisa. NOT! The girl then bows to the smartphone. The idiot just bowed to a fucking smartphone before passing it on to the other idiot who doesn’t even listen to the Chalisa but touches the contraption to her forehead. The result? Friendship for just One Rupee. I would have liked to see boys doing the same thing. Arre, kaise? Humne maa ka doodh piya hai.
I am not blaming the men out here for men and women both comprise the workforce in the advertising and entertainment industry. The tactic is just a way of playing with conventions and popular notions so as to ensure higher ratings (of every kind) and high viewership. I have stopped watching television for the simple reason that whatever’s shown on the tube is nothing but horseshit in a cupcake box. I do watch movies occasionally. Taking control of the remote control from more senior members of my family is another issue altogether!
In fact, I have come to realize that whatever the media synthesizes is out of thin air, unsubstantial, prejudiced (often for certain benefits), cockandbull. The same goes for the cinema industry where harakiri in the name of Chennai Express created leviathan ripples in the Box Office because we are a nation of Lungi Dancers (mind it) and a neo-noir film like BA Pass became too hot to handle. Chi! Bhabhi ji in a bra seducing young fellow? Tauba tauba.
The cycles will turn the day we start saying NO to such cocks and get REAL. Kinda reminds us of The Matrix, doesn’t it?
(The views expressed are the writer’s own. The writer is angry. Very angry. And believes in every scathing word she has written here. All resemblances to characters, situations, advertisements, serials and movies are completely INTENTIONAL and NOT coincidental. Nothing is regretted.)
PS. There was a lot more to say, though.