In the telly world where husbands are straightforward, fathers kindhearted and brothers compassionate, disruption comes only from scheming conniving women of the household. Strangely, conspiracy is the fine art which the telly women seem to have perfected. And what’s more? The haranguing, scheming women get their jollies by spinning controversies and breaking relationships of their own children!
Have you noticed a strange contrast? While the big screen has nasty men (Kancha, Rauf Lala) as baddies, the small screen prefers vicious women: Women, who love to waggle their eyebrows, look daggers and smile coquettishly while planning crooked moves. Not the ones to give up, the kohl eyed breed is either aggressively demanding or mysteriously conniving. I once attempted to waggle my eyebrows and smile wickedly in front of the mirror. Couldn’t come close! Believe me, it aint easy. No wonder, these quirky women get felicitated in far off exotic Macau.
The first half of the last decade was all about regressive women protagonists in Indian soaps. The second half was dominated by the feudal rustic sagas. Even though the bejeweled bahu has morphed into a normal, confident woman with a mind of her own, the impediments in soaps come from nasty women. Earlier it was the vicious daughter-in-law or the carefully coiffed mother-in-law, who played the vamp. However today, doctors, models and corporate bosses are cast in the role of spiteful women. Even though the garish makeup, faux- ethnic ensembles, and heavy trinkets are giving way to normal leading ladies, bitching, viciousness and manipulative character traits fail to fade away.
You disagree? Well, picture this.
“What else do we women have? Only the power of our tongue! If we don’t use our devious instincts, men will trample us,” says an actress in a daily soap revolving around doctors. The tone is supercilious, even contemptuous. And then the stone hearted lady goes on to conspire in most evil ways known to only her. Switch the channel and you have another malevolent matriarch in plotting to break her son’s marriage. She quietly peeps into her forty year old son’s bedroom and connives to stop the newlyweds from going all the way. Forget the fact that after six months and a stretched honeymoon, the tycoon son hasn’t consummated his marriage. So night after night, audiences wait with baited breath to watch if ‘The Ram Kapoor’ goes all the way…
I was naïve to believe that this flawed portrayal is a Hindi soap phenomenon. Only yesterday I happened to catch a glimpse of ‘Desperate Housewives’. And lo and behold, what does the woman on the screen do? ‘Gabrielle’ makes out with the young gardener even as her mother-in-law lands in coma. Later she goes on to advice her friend, “Go and manipulate men. That’s what we do best.”
Hello? Do we manipulate men? Not to the best of my knowledge. If you are a woman reader, you will second me on this one. I am not sure about the men. See, this is what the repeated character assassination does. It creates a myth!
I doubt if ‘You-sicko-go-burn-in-hell’ eyes, snide remarks, waspish smiles come naturally to women. Where are these vicious women in real life? Have you seen them? I haven’t. In reality, I have met wonderful kind women. Unlike the kohl eyed telly women who rock and roll with their eyes. That reminds me of my aunt who loves to gossip and revels in pulling others down. But I seriously doubt if she will ever conspire or plot to hurt anyone.
Are women more akin to the mythical character of Kaikaey from Ramayana? Complicated perhaps! But I doubt if women are a part of the bitching fest unleashed by the daily soaps.