Why are #Sexist #Television Soaps in #India so Popular With the Public?
I am really happy to learn about your campaign, particularly the reviewing of gender and sexuality in Bollywood.
I wish to draw your attention to some of the daily soaps in prime time slots in Indian national TV. While many of these soaps reinforce patriarchal values, what is extremely worrying is that these are also very popular, reaching not only the homes, but often, the hearts of millions of Indian viewers.
Thus, I was shocked to see that Sony Entertainment channel, which boasts of socially responsible shows, such as Kaun Banega Crorepati, is actually broadcasting a serial named “Anamika“, which villifies a woman, identified as a witch. This woman apparently preys on young men in the name of love, destroying lives. Given India’s painful practice of “witch-hunting”, which has been painstakingly resisted by social activists, how can a popular media even romanticize and reinforce the same concept which has been used to kill people?
I am not aware of the details of the serial, and am too revolted to watch it to know more about it. Equally damaging is another serial, named “Madhubala: Ek Ishk ki Junoon” (An Obsessive Love Story), a Colors channel presentation. I have watched some of the episodes and in these episodes, the serial glorifies a man who abducts, hurts, blackmails, insults, and provokes a woman to give up her life, all in the name of ‘love’. He even has criminally hurt the father of the woman, but that has not threatened his throne as the “hero” of the serial. This man, not just the actor, but the character–Rishabh Kundra–has a huge fan following.
Deep down, among a huge section of Indians, there is an internalizing, and a positive avowal of the thought process that this character represents. This is disturbing and portends more and more violence against women.
How can all these be glorified as heroic? There might be some skewed arguments that say that these portrayals are an attempt to reveal what is wrong, and why it is wrong. But in that case, should not such behaviours be clearly resisted and marked as wrong, unacceptable and unworthy, instead of being sanctioned as a good man’s excesses, or weaknesses?
What is far more dangerous is that people might admire such behaviours and choose to adopt them and even call it love. It is a great disservice to society and to our collective struggle to allow a popular character to indulge in these behaviours. There is nothing great about treating another human being as your property and this can not be justified in any way. It is very very surprising that this regressive and violent storyline and portrayal can get so much funding while causes to end human distress does not get adequate funding.
To mark 100 years of Indian films, we are inviting people to submit reviews for our “Gender in Indian Films @ 100″ film review series. To make a submission click here. To read previously published reviews click here.