The great era of Indian soap opera began in 1984 with Hum Log. The show captured the struggles of people across different ages of a middle class family. The show was a hit among the common masses due to its relatability quotient because there usually was a Majhli or Nanhe in every house. With its great story-line, detailed writing and ‘normal’ sets, it paved way for shows like Buniyaad and Udaan. All these shows were set to provide a strong foundation to Indian television, and it all changed with the entry of the ‘K-queen’, Ekta Kapoor.
Shows like Kyuki Saas bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi and Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki, popularised the concept of ‘socially engineered damsels’ to the extent that women started believing that their true enemies are women, and that only men are capable of loving them truly. Kapoor’s miserably beautiful, dolled-up ladies showed that you are supposed to go to bed with all your jewellery on, because who likes comfortable nightwear anyway!
But oh, not all the ladies of Balaji are damsels in distress. There are empowered women who turn into snakes and dragons and what not, because you can become powerful only when you acquire a supernatural element, right? No one I know watches these shows, but the high TRPs speak in Ekta Kapoor’s defence.
They say that art is a reflection of society and if this is what our society is, then it truly is sad. But then web series like Kota Factory and Laakhon Mein Ek give me hope. These shows tell us that there is more to television apart from Balaji and its drama. I hope that one day, Komolika gets inspiration from Dr Shreya and instead of only wearing her trademark flashy clothes and plotting against Prerna, looks forward to doing something more productive.