Few days back I got a text from one of my friends at seven o’ clock in the evening. It said, “Hi wat u doin.” I replied, “Am watching white collar.” I got an amusing reply stating, “Tu toh humesha angrezi serials hi dekhti hai (:P).” There isn’t anything peculiar about what my friend said, and I also take certain delight in watching English serials more than Hindi ones. I would like to clarify the ‘delight’ part by simply stating that I watch television for diverse entertainment genres that it offers, and if English serials do that more adeptly then it justifies my reason for watching it, and not the dubious claims that ‘I identify myself more with western thoughts or simply I like watching those (English serials) to sound cool.’
I undertook an interesting memory exercise to recall the name of any good Hindi serial with a captivating or entertaining plot that had arrested my attention and made me crave for its telecast every day. To my happiness, I did recollect few names like ‘Hum Paanch, Hudd kar di, Star Bestsellers, Rishtey, Filmi Chakkar, Challenge, Hip Hip Hurray, Just Mohabbat, Family No.1 and Aahat.’ All these serials were a hit with young and old alike. Serials like Challenge, Just Mohabbat and Hip Hip Hurray catered to the interests and entertainment of youngsters with a genuine plotline. They adopted a realistic touch in their approach to the issues pertaining to youngsters. They were stripped of any overtly exaggerated and delusional content that might create a conflict in the mind of the person on the other side of the box; the young viewer. There are now some immensely popular serials (as they claim to be) with youngsters as their target audience that mindlessly ape West in physical demeanour by flashing flamboyant clothes and luxurious cars. A normal, middle class youngster finds it difficult to relate to such content. If I don’t relate to such a thing then what could be the reason for watching it. It might be for two reasons, one, it offers an escape from the restricted life, and opens the door to this fantasy world; fantasy because I cannot afford such a life. Second, just to mock the obscene display of the unreal.
I digressed a bit from the topic of concern and simply forgot to state that all these serials glorified the idiot box during the 90s. They successfully provided entertainment with their assortment of drama, suspense, horror and fun. I would like to refer to my earlier statement where I said that some serials provide an escape from harsh realities of life. But isn’t the purpose of entertainment served if it does that? Not really. If entertainment tickles us to laugh then it can also tickle our mindset and thought process to think. Most of us remember Family No. 1 as a rib tickling family drama about two different families living under one roof engaged in harmless plotting against the other. But there’s another thing that most of us would not have paid attention to and that was its subtle focus on the issue of parenting. The kids in both the families were being raised by single mom and single dad respectively. This was indeed a radical outlook at a time when the society still upheld the values of a close knit family. It still does but we are now also exhibiting signs of slowly accepting change.
Now coming back to the main point of discussion, “Why I watch only English serials?” I would answer that very simply by stating, “…because there’s no novelty in what Hindi serials show and it’s conspicuously and unacceptably melodramatic.” It is preposterous to see a working woman always projected as a vamp, who separates the bovine husband from the loving family. It is outrageously boring to see ‘women of the house’ engaged in trivial house politics against each other like spilling oil on the floor so that the enemy is taught a brutal lesson by sustaining injuries. There is a perceptible bifurcation between simplicity and stupidity. A simple person is very different from a stupid one, and it is infuriating to see a character engaged in some stupid activity just to highlight her simplicity.
X is an ideal daughter-in- law as she is docile as a lamb, generous, kind hearted with angelic qualities but just because she is a simple, illiterate girl born and brought up in a city, she sometimes commits silly mistakes like washing a laptop with soap and water in order to clean it. A temporary stop to my complain for novelty was put by a serial called Saubhagyawati Bhavah. But after few episodes I realised that I was certainly not asking for this kind of ‘novelty’ where the wife is tortured by the obsessive husband in innovative ways every day.
The female protagonist who is the repository of traditional values and culture, morally upright to such an extreme extent that she is always victimised by the enemy that makes her look foolish most of the times and also too good to be true is very proudly displayed as the quintessential Indian bahu. Her extremely pristine and infallible character makes her a sacrificial goat at the hands of the enemy which instead of inspiring me do the same, only drives me crazy.
I am very sure that there is no dearth of creative talent in the Indian entertainment industry because many serials start with some new theme or concept but sadly get trampled and maimed by the saas- bahu melodrama. It is a complex task to find the real culprit. Is it the viewers or the suppliers who are delivering this kind of obsolete and restricted entertainment?
I appreciate the workings of a creative brain that provides a glimpse of a hospital and the doctor’s lives from a funny perspective like Scrubs. I am enthralled to see an ingenious and dexterous mind like that of Patrick in The Mentalist who catches criminals by the intelligent use of his grey cells and careful observation of human behaviour. It is interesting to get an insight into the workings of a saviour or a killer like Dexter. It is relaxing to see a light family drama like Everybody Loves Raymond or My Wife and Kids. It is simply alluring to see a snappy and handsome ex- con and a federal agent like Neal in White Collar. It is amusing and entertaining to see the characters of Melissa and Joey or Hot in Cleveland dealing with a serious situation in a funny manner.
Entertainment is like a delicacy for me that I savour with every bite. My hunt for flavour, aroma and taste in food should be met by same standards in entertainment as well. My definition of good entertainment is aptly described by just one word and that is ‘novelty’.