Dear Ekta Kapoor, Will We Ever See The True Picture Of India On Our TV Screens?

Dear Ms. Kapoor,

I understand that you are the one who can be credited with the day-and-night-heavy-saree-suit-jewellery-clad avatar of the Indian woman in daily soaps, while others have followed into your footsteps.

I am neither a viewer nor do I care about what is shown on TV, however, my concern is regarding the image of the Indian woman in the world. I do not understand why in 2019, Indian women should be shown to be so weak and naive. Why are we defaming ourselves, making ourselves a laughing stock before the entire world?

Do women in your family dress up and present themselves like this? As far as I know, women in middle class families (that I belong to myself) in cities and even in villages, do not sustain the kind of lives the soaps shows on television. Moreover, it is possible that some of these shows may be viewed internationally as well.

Also, what further adds to my confusion is the representation of the same saree-clad women as extremely liberal in various web series. So, how are we portraying Indian women?  That they are useless, dressed up in heavy, impractical attire all the time, good for nothing, pretending to be sanskari (well-mannered) and ultimately screwing up the sanskar (traditionally sanctioned ways of appropriate behaviour) in the bedroom.

Why aren’t women shown as achievers in board rooms and offices and setting up businesses? Or why aren’t they shown as home makers, taking and picking up kids from schools, bus stops, tuitions; making food for them and going crazy along with them during exams?

Why can’t some practical shows with limited episodes, but which convey real, grassroot images of women, be broadcast? Why can’t our actresses represent the real women of India?

Perhaps, the appearance of the women that you portray in your shows brings you quite a bit of profit, but it does very little to improve the image of the Indian woman in the eyes of onlookers. Even if a show starts off with a strong image in the initial stages, ultimately all of them take on the aforementioned avatar, usually after the character’s marriage, as the series proceeds.

How about taking a look at the real world in which more than 70℅ population of the country lives? How about causing another revolution by showing women in their true avatar?

The type of sarees the actresses drape themselves in on screen is something most of us won’t wear even to a wedding, let alone at home, and in bed. Try travelling in the local trains or in the metro with the common masses for once – you’ll get to meet the real people of India; maybe then you will get some ideas about how Indian women actually look, and about their day to day attire.

Even our movies have shortened their run times, brevity and a faster pace have taken the the entire world by storm, but Indian shows from past twenty years continue to be unnecessarily extended, exaggerated and very, very stupid.

I wouldn’t go so far as to put the entire blame on you, for if Kasauti Zindagi Ki can be remade for the audience, then I realise that the problem lies mostly in the demand of the audience. But then, no revolution ever started with denial.

This letter is more out of hope than to complain. In the beginning, you might lose some viewers, but they will accept with time. Please stop showing men as these bare-chested models with six packs opposite women who are shown to be weak, vulnerable, over dressed and above all, pretentious.

Women across the country are as progressive as our shows are regressive. If you defend your shows and the millions they have spurned just to soothe your ego, then please, you are welcome to, but it isn’t helping.

Television is a very strong medium and affects the public psyche directly. It is time TV channels focused on some social responsibility and highlighted important social and economic issues. You can make shows on the lives of people like Dr. Kalam, Hima Das, PT Usha, Kiran Bedi, instead of reiterating the same old senseless drama over and over again.

You should be able to find a problem in your actions and the audiences should be able to identify a problem with their choices. Until either of that changes, nothing will change.

Yours thoughtfully,

Featured image for representative purpose only.
Featured image source: Simon Williams for Ekta Parishad via Wikimedia Commons.
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