We all have a love-hate relationship with Indian television series. All of us have a mother, father grandmother, grandfather uncle or aunt who loves watching the Indian soap operas. Television viewing remains an important part of our lives. Even if more and more people are switching to online content platforms, and prefer binge-watching shows, don’t we still love to keep a tab on what is “happening” on the idiot box?
Bondita asks the group of men, “Why is it that we worship woman as a goddess but a priest is always a man? Why are women in a household expected to wake up before the men folks? How a girl is Laxmi (goddess of wealth) and a burden on her father at the same time?”
Recently a trailer on Colors Television announcing a new show –Barrister Babu caught my attention. Barrister Babu is a period drama set in Bengal. The trailer shows a young girl asking pointed questions to a group of old men, all the dhoti kurta clad village elderly. And subsequently, a widowed mother quickly takes away our young protagonist from the gathering. But little Bondita warns them she will come back and seek her answers. Another trailer of the same shows little Bondita getting married to a much older man, and we are told that even though she gets entrapped in a regressive tradition like child marriage her husband is going to bring her out of that confinement and we are shown the little girl wearing a Barrister’s uniform at the end of the clip. It felt like a breath of fresh air from the dramatic saas-bahu sagas which do not want to show women as independent beings.
In a time when most shows on television lack a credible storyline Barrister Babu definitely looks refreshing. It touches upon social issues which still remain prevalent today. Bondita asks the group of men, “Why is it that we worship woman as a goddess but a priest is always a man? Why are women in a household expected to wake up before the men folks? How a girl is Laxmi (goddess of wealth) and a burden on her father at the same time?” These were all very pressing questions to ask in 19th century India especially by a seven or eight-year-old fatherless girl. But have we really been able to break all these social stigmas? Don’t we need answers to some of these questions even today? Isn’t it still a struggle to bring your children up as a single mother? Aren’t dowry deaths still a reality in our country?
The problem with many Indian shows has been that they started with a lot of promise but once in the race of TRP the makers gave up on common sense, suspended all judgement and confirmed to stereotypes.
Colors TV has earlier given us shows with strong social messages. Balika Vadhu set in Rajasthan was one such show which spoke about child marriages and enjoyed a steady viewership and ran for almost eight years. Another show Udaan talked about bonded labour also remained very popular with the audiences. The problem with many Indian shows has been that they started with a lot of promise but once in the race of TRP the makers gave up on common sense, suspended all judgement and confirmed to stereotypes.
Will Barrister Babu, set in pre-independence India, be the heartwarming tale of a young girl who wants to live on her own terms in a society which didn’t allow women to have an independent voice? We will have to wait and watch.
The views expressed are the author’s own.
Picture Credit: Youtube