Hindi Daily Soaps And Their Impact On The Audience

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Introduction

Hindi daily soaps which are also called soap operas, are written, directed,produced, filmed and played by Indians where episodes are broadcasted on Indian television. They are one of the most popular category of shows in Indian television and is a part of our popular culture. Hindi serials are mainly popular among young girls,middle(mainly housewives) and old aged women and sometimes men also watch them along with their wives or mothers. In every family we can find atleast one member who is a regular daily soap watcher. There are multiple drama channels among which popular are Colours, Sony, Zee Tv, Star Plus etc. with shows of various concepts and dimensions. Some popular shows are Yeh Hai Mohabbatein,Tarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah,Naagin 3,Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai,Kasautii Zindagii Kay,Udaan etc.

There are many genres of daily soaps like child specific,drama,romance,thriller,comedy,horror etc with stories extending across several episodes. These soaps have become a part of our lives in such a way that our activities at home and outside depends on the timings of our favourite serials and they have the capacity to reshape our society’s popular culture, which have now extended beyond novels,music and has taken all media of expressions into its grab. Modern mass culture have now strengthened due to socio cultural elites and our soaps have also transformed depending on the audiences’ nature.

Reason Behind Hindi Daily Soap’s Popularity And Its Relation With Popular Culture

Soap operas are famous all over India as they are easily accessible to the masses with the advancement of technology and media. Hindi serials started its journey and came to limelight with its first show ‘Hum Log’ in 1980 which was based on middle class Indians and their life,beliefs and struggles. It is the main medium of our relaxation where after whole day’s work,in our free time we can finally sit, relax and travel in a fantasy world where we sympathize with the roles portrayed. These serials are designed in a never ending way,although some are finite series. The name soap operas is given to hindi serials by media because most of the sponsers were soap manufacturers. Serial’s main theme usually revolves around domestic violence and conspiracy against women, female foeticide,adultery, heartbreaks,women empowerment,revenge, sibling rivalry etc. These operas are part of the popular culture as they are consumed by people of all classes and status. They don’t need extra knowledge or experience to understand what is being shown. They are the source of entertainment for numerous people of various age,gender,ethnicity. It has been observed that hindi serials are more popular than reality shows and are mainly consumed by those who are not under much work or academic pressure. Now these serials have become a common ground of gossip which bonds friends and family together and are also bringing sensitive content on the forefront which were not spoken about in public earlier. Indian soap operas are mainly famous for their over dramatic stories where background music plays an important role in evaluating the importance of a scene. Their main target are female audiences,by highlighting and romanticizing misery. An important trait of daily soaps are, the more good a person is, the more he suffers silently. Hindi serials are mainly regressive and repetitive,where mostly the main story revolves around a hugely suffering female lead who gets justice at the end.

The popular concept in our society,that women are ill treated at her in-laws is basically replicated in shows which use certain stereotypical formulas such as tears,pity,wickedness etc. Despite its misery and unrealistic depiction of societal conditions,people are still drawn towards it,as it is a non realistic way of gaining pleasure,which one can’t achieve but can relate to. Serials have certain fixed technological effects,pattern of scripts,large amount of resource requirement etc,so they they are inevitably stereotypical and people are attracted to clichés. Hindi soaps focus on archetypes, various societal issues and taboos which dictate how we judge people in our society and their roles. Story writers use our popular culture to make an impression on the minds of the audience,serials being the modern version of story telling via depiction. In case of India,the content of the hindi serials are very important as people’s lives are highly influenced by the socio cultural values,but these are portrayed negatively in most serials. Women always dominate the plot in terms of casting and storyline centre whereas,though men are shown as superior and dominating in the story,they are merely present to carry the storyline forward. There are stereotypical and traditional characters of desirable and undesirable men and women,influencing the concept of ‘gendered’ roles. Women are shown to prioritize her family interest above everything else,maintain her dignity yet keep her down down and face the humiliation without taking stand for her ownself which will show her character strength. Such portrayal sends out a wrong message that women are supposed to be meek and submissive.

Women are mainly divided into good Indian women i. e. ‘bahus’ and the negative women i. e. ‘vamps’. The former are devoted to their husbands,ideal home maker,takes care of everyone,good at heart,doesn’t argue and the later are always decked up iin heavy makeup,jewellery,outspoken,selfish and cannot see anyone happy. Vamps are an integral part of daily soaps, as they are the main entertainers,plot twisters and sometimes their promising acting also gains public support. This is how popular culture attracts people even when they know these are fantasies and negative characters. Women conspiring against each other as shown in serials is a very old technique of entertainment,due to which our popular culture has a notion that women are each other’s biggest enemies. Soaps show that even if women are financially independent,they won’t still be given due respect and equality,despite all attempts. Patriarchy is strongly reinforced and women are supposed to stay within the four walls,which is not acceptable in reality, but people are made to believe this in soaps. Women has to face many more genuine troubles in her life,like rape,molestation,work place inequality, her workload between home and work, on which hindi soaps should start focussing on. Hindi serials impact our culture and also gets modified by our popular culture.

One of televisions most popular serial, Kyunki Saas Bhi kabhi Bahu Thi, was hugely famous because it stressed on family values,and was the first saas-bahu serial where the audiences were able to relate themselves. The combination of a perfect daughter in law,an evil mother in law,sacrifice for loved ones,living together in a joint family,evil conspiracy,was all together an instant hit. Following this,due to people’s growing demand,similar shows like Kahani Ghar Ghar ki,Kasautii Zindagii Kay etc were also launched. Early realistic serials which were based on our society’s ideologies tand conditions like Humraahi (which was based on women’s rights to equal education,to choose her marriage partner and to decide about family planning),Hindustani (which showed how theme of patriotism penetrated our popular culture),Tamas,Nukkad were shows of substance which are replaced by current unrealistic and meaningless daily soaps which mani[ulate and tamper with the societal norms,behaviours and beliefs like Sasural Simar Ka(where there were supernatural elemenst and the female lead turned into a fly),Naagin 3 (based on ‘icchadhari naagin’),Pehredaar Piya Ki (where a nine year old boy marries an 18 year old girl,who is his saviour) etc. However the direction of the daily soaps are changing now,with more real portrayal of India and character makeovers like independent,progressive women who is strong,can fight against patriarchy,take care of their own self and manage both work and family and men who are also sober and responsible. These in real life gives women strength and courage and also acts as a mirror for the society,making them guilty of their wrong doing. They have started showing characters who are more real and have their own flaws. Soap operas have multiple story lines and characters with plot and subplots along with big joint families where multiple generations are living together. Lots of twists and turns,affairs,illegitimate children etc carry on the story further.

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These serials are basically a change and/or modification of our tradition and reality. They attempt to portray a story which people can relate with themselves but it ends up being vague and fictitious. In contemporary times, some serials are also directed towards social issues which brought positive impact among public,like Balika Vadhu based on child marriage,Na Ana Is Des Laado based on girl foeticide,Udaan based on bonded labour, Gangaa based on child widow etc. The main reason behind these shows were break away from larger than life saas baahu serials with heavy makeup,outfits and jewellery.

Fantasy always attract people as that won’t happen in real life. Popular culture has such a hold in human’s life that earlier boys and men considered it too feminine to watch serials,but nowadays males have also started watching theses shows,mainly because maximum time the television remains occupied by the females. These impact us in such a way,that clothes worn by the actresses becomes fashion trend. Women finish their daily work,sometimes ignore their husband’s words, to watch her shows in peace and if anything interrupts her during the show,it might lead to arguments and household problems. Behavioural changes also can be observed in some people who follow these serials rigorously. Television serials specifically reproduces our popular culture on screen. Hindi soaps replicate certain concepts and ideas which are established as dominant and preferred cultural ideas and conduct of behaviour. This is how daily soaps play an important role in the producing,modifying and changing the popular culture of Indian society. However,in an attempt to portray our social modes of behaviour,people’s everyday practices and lived experiences,these serials divert far from reality and end up being unrealistic and contradictory. But as daily soaps have become a combination of social,cultural and religious elements,it creates an image of India as a society,making nation a cultural product.

Impact of Hindi Daily Soaps

The impact of serials depend on the kind of shows people are watching. People’s opinion on this are different and depends on their perspective,as for some they are the main source of entertainment and for some they are nonsense. Like comedy shows have positive effect but others like fictions,abusive shows etc are creating negative thoughts and atttitutes,which results in aggressive behaviour. However some shows might have both positive and negative effects due to the presence of both hero and villain. Effect of serials like Mahabharat was huge on its audiences,as one one hand,it taught about ‘dharma’ and ‘adharma’,about social and religious practices and life lessons,on the other hand repeated portrayal of hindi customs were taken as a attempt to make Hinduism’s ground firm in India,despite being a secular country. The type of impact one serial is creating, solely depends on the viewer and his way of grasping the content. Sometimes the stories are so impactful,that the actors playing it are also moved completely and characters which they play,start affecting their real personality also. Soap operas impact various layers of a viewer’s personality which means that the content of soap operas have multilayered structure,which effects the spectator’s various psychological levels. These underlying structures have certain hidden impacts on the spectator’s mind of which the are unaware of and it is a kind of culture industry’s technique to keep the audiences hooked. “Actually pseudo realism allows for the direct and extremely primitive identification achieved by popular culture,and it presents a façade of trivial buildings,rooms,dresses and faces as though they were the promise of something thrilling and exciting taking place at any moment”.

Due to the sameness,repetitivenss,omnipresence of modern serials and lack of substantial shows and lazy story telling,individuals have lowered their standards of entertainment. They have lost their resistance to vulgar entertainment and have submissively accepted these as good enough which neither benefits them or the society. The conclusion of every serial is good triumphing over bad,so now usually every spectator of soap operas can easily predict what would happen next o how the serial will conclude. The thrill doesn’t prolong and tension of the storyline is superficial. “Most important is that the tyoing of shows has gone so far that the spectators pproaches each one with a set pattern of expectations before he faces the show itself”. Soap operas attempt to show middle class ideologies within larger than life setting with unrealistic characters,making the entire effort look hollow. Plots ans twists are introduced depending on the demands of the audiences,sometimes the leads of the serials are also chosen by audience voting. The concepts regarding the purity of women and marriage have remained unchanged in soaps’ popular culture. These serials have succeeded in unifying masses inta a whole,due to the latter’s muteness.

Negative impact -To gain TRP,Hindi soap operas show controversial unethical story lines which are not accepted in our society and many times actresses and actors have also received backlashes for portraying such roles. These ideas damage the minds of people which is leading to divorce, sexual harassment, household fights etc. Soaps have always portrayed certain concepts such as crime,patriarchy,violence in such a manner,as if it is normal. It is popularly shown that pretty and rich people can get away with anything which sends out a wrong message to the public. Shows on personal feuds, jealousy, family conspiracy, complex web of men and women relations and criminal fiction, teach people how to do crime and other conspiracy without any guilt or proofs. Shows basically copy these formulas, as without these traits, shows are not appealing among the masses as Indians mainly love controversy and this is misleading our society. People who daily watch serials are becoming impractical,getting far from reality and manipulated.

Despite knowing about the negative impacts and falsity of the storyline, people still cannot cut themselves off from it,as they are too much engrossed and occupied in it already. Soap operas can be harmful, as sometimes people copy violent behaviours. Audiences sometimes imply negative themes from soaps into their lives and also learn about various issues regarding dominating patriarchy, techniques of corruption etc. Daily serials keeping in mind about the impact on future generations, should start introducing programs with higher level of teaching as they play important roles in our family band culture. Guardians should also monitor the kind of shows their children are watching as these serials are often violent and show consumption of drugs,alcohol and other objectionable, anti social content. Verbal violence is most commonly shown. Soap operas also gives way for various misconceptions regarding our society. “Early love, materialism and unrealistic fantasies while laziness,irresponsibility, eroticism, violence and drug use also add to these negative effects”. Soap operas mainly affect children as they take the plots seriously and cannot differentiate between what is true and false, it might affect their mental state and values. Our choice of soap operas must be careful as it directly affects our minds. They are emotionally stressful due to the continuous solving and resolving of tangles and complexities among personal relations.

Positive impact – Watching television is a leisure activity and as soap operas are usually presented in a cheerful and entertaining way, so a good impact is usually expected out of them. Exciting plots and suspense keeps the audience engaged and make them think the entire day as what would happen in the next episode. Audiences mainly love serials as it gives them a taste of unattainable,romance,fame,glamour,passion,love and hatred in their life. Although mostly in unrealistic way,it deals with our daily life problems. Characters become so dear to the audiences that they start wishing for their well being,cry and laugh along with them. Sometimes the storylines actually give us the solution to our own real life problems and also certain dialouges give us life lessons.

Audiences can get inspiration from their favourite characters and develop will power to face problems. Serials become a part of the masses’ lives so much that even if they miss out watching an episode on television,there are certain applications where people can watch them later. Many people watch comedy soaps for their daily dose of laughter. Soap operas can effect our mood to a great extent. Many serials are also based on historical and mythological characters like Porus,Mahabharat,Shaani, etc which focusses on and educates masses regarding our religion and brings back our lost histories and foundations of culture. Watching daily soaps is a kind of involvement in second hand behavior,which also teaches how to behave in common social situations. Types of hindi serials watched differs from person to person. People enjoy participating in the plots and taking a ride of various emotions with their favourite characters.

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