As the clock strikes nine, women in homes and complexes, switch on their TV sets and are glued to dramatic family politics through soaps. In spite of a number of web series, realistic movies, K soaps have never lost popularity and their hold on Indian families. Every second house in India is suddenly in line as the same heightened emotional background music plays on their televisions at the “hour of the K soaps.” The continued popularity of these shows cannot be ignored, because anything that is static is being controlled.
The K soaps, or the series of daily soap by Ekta Kapoor that happened to start with the letter ‘K’, is the dramatic representation of Indian family politics, governed by patriarchy, heteronormative love stories with some aggressive moments of women wrath and matriarchy. However “unreal” or “dramatic” these soaps maybe, they are driven by the reality of Indian families and this peek into reality is what makes for a captive audience. How real are these family politics? Here are the four ways in which daily soaps reflect family politics and are a reflection of our society:
- K soaps have never lost popularity and hold on Indian families.
- K soaps represent Indian family politics, governed by patriarchy, heteronormative love stories with some aggressive moments of women wrath and matriarchy.
- Strong female leads are a source of vicarious freedom for women with no agency.
- Only a few unreal factors draw a very thin line of difference between daily soaps and reality. Otherwise, daily soaps portray what the audience can easily identify with.
The class difference based on money and caste
The basic plots of almost all the K soaps are the “difficult” love stories between a man and a woman who come from families with wide economic differences. The clichéd description of love bridging the gap of economic difference is the unreal topping of this serious reality. However, the economic difference between the families of the hero and heroine is greatly influenced by family politics in real families. The economic status of a family always decides the relations it can expect from society. The bitterness among two economically different families, with the economically backward family being dealt with ignominy by the ego and hubris of the rich family, is nowhere different from real family politics.
The title of these soaps is an allegory of the real family situations. These titles in simple language and direct moral message easily allow the audience to identify with its content. It shows exactly the same dialectic as they witness in their lives, like that of daughter-in-law and mother-in-law which is the story of every house.
The bickering of the female members of the family
The bitter relations between daughters-in-law and their sisters-in-law and mothers-in-law are again not a strange idea to traditional Indian families. The insecurity of the mothers-in-law that she will lose her son to his wife is common in every house. The fight among two daughters-in-law in a house to get hold of the family treasure is also often a common cause of split of Indian joint families. Almost every Indian family after the marriage of their most eligible son, don’t stop complaining about their daughters-in-law based on her mannerisms, assumed fear that she will master over everyone in the house and ultimately outcast them. The fear that the daughters-in-law will control the sons of the house is the fear of almost every Indian family.
Besides, the bickering of the female members automatically elevates the male members as the sane and benevolent human. The women who oppress and plot against other women in soaps and reality are those who have internalised patriarchal order and custom. Hence, the bitterness among female members is just another way to portray the patriarchal hold in families, which is the truth in most Indian families even today.
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The elaborate dressing and attributes that represent a particular character
The elaborate and heavy jewellery of the characters in the daily soaps not only stereotype every woman with the same itch to dress elaborately but also shows a mandate of tradition in every family. In Indian weddings or other big ceremonies, there already exists tradition that women wear the jewels and men carry the money. The jewels not only match with the saree but are also a symbol of status and the family she belongs to. This traditional conditioning of overdressed women and simple and sober men has a vivid representation in the daily soaps.
Besides, the presence and the absence of jewels have underlying significance. A simple woman with no jewels is either a ‘good’ virgin or a widow, while a heavily dressed woman is a characterless woman or a high-class daughter-in-law.
The most eligible bachelor with two to three women after him
Another obvious plot of daily soaps is the most eligible bachelor who is the centre of attraction of all daughters and their moms (looking for a husband and son-in-law who can take care of the daughters). It cannot be debated enough on how deeply rooted in reality is this portrayal. Every Indian family starts anxiously looking for the best son-in-law for their daughters, as soon as she is of marriageable age. The arranged marriage rules of many Indian families deem it unfavourable for a woman to meet her to-be husband before marriage. This often results in abusive and incompatible married life of many couples which is also shown in the daily soaps. The difference is that, in daily soaps, either the woman at an hour of realisation divorces the husband, takes legal action and ultimately marries the one male friend that helped her in the rescue. But the thing is this freedom and decision-making ability in a wife is not common in all the Indian families.
The allegorical titles of the daily soaps:
Kyunki Saas bhi kabhi bahu thi, Kasautii Zindagi Ki and Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki, are the few of the most-watched daily soaps. The title of these soaps is an allegory of the real family situations. These titles in simple language and direct moral message easily allow the audience to identify with its content. It shows exactly the same dialectic as they witness in their lives, like that of daughter-in-law and mother-in-law which is the story of every house. The titles could have been different based on the twists and artistic manoeuvres in the soap. But the fact that they are moral message makes the soaps even more relevant with the real family politics.
K Soaps are not only dramatic
The little dramatic representation and twists added in the soaps, with the portrayal of some powerful women audience with an agency who can speak for themselves, becomes a source of vicarious freedom for women with no agency. The leading female roles in the same patriarchal set-up as reality give women audience the possibility of raising their own voice. Of course, the simple and abrupt solutions and end of the daily soaps are not real since it is just a TV series that has to end.
The bitter relations between daughters-in-law and their sisters-in-law and mothers-in-law are again not a strange idea to traditional Indian families.
It is these unreal factors that draw a very thin line of difference between daily soaps and reality. In fact, the number of soaps that continue over the years and also come back with a sequel without even changing the title is again a truth that family politics has no end and it changes greatly with time. Therefore, next time when you happen to watch a K soap, do not undermine it as just a dramatic imagination, because it reflects the society you live in. Indeed, K soaps are the story of every household in India.
Picture Credit: Indiatoday.in
Rudrani Kumari is an intern with SheThePeople.TV
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