Soaps and real life – is there any real difference?

This post has been selected for BlogAdda’s Tangy Tuesday Picks! Thank you so much, Blogadda, and IHM for tipping πŸ™‚ Delighted and honored!

We had been channel surfing the other day when we came acrossΒ  a serial on Star Plus. It was just something we had switched on and we were not sure of the background, but they were showing a woman who was being ill-treated(mental abuse of sorts) by her in-laws. She appealed to her mother to let her come back home, the mother tells her that her place is at her in-laws place and not at her mother’s and that is where she should stay.

That I guess, is just what can be expected out of soaps in one of India’s most regressive channels. It shocked me far more, when I heard somebody I know here, talking about how her husband was the cherished offspring of his parents, as he is the only son. He does have sisters, mind you, but sisters is not the same, is it? . And now that they have a son, the grandson, the son’s son, was the most cherished grandson. All this was said with a sense of pride. What shocked me even more was this person was an well-educated, well-traveled person and yet, is so calm(and even a little proud)Β  in the acceptance of the importance of her son and husband by virtue of their gender.

It made me wonder if she would have been just as easily accepting if she had a daughter? Or is the conditioning so strong that she would not even have thought anything wrong if her daughter was not the ‘cherished grandchild’ of her grandparents – after all, as a girl, what more could she expect? It also made me wonder if the woman also felt that her position in her in-laws place was enhanced because she was the wife of the cherished son and the mother of the cherished grandson.

In another conversation, another well educated woman told me how sons of NRIs seem to be less spoilt – but the daughters all seem to turn out spoilt. She was very convinced about this. When asked why – she said that most boys brought up abroad seem to be fine with an arranged marriage with an Indian girl but the girls all seem to vehemently oppose the idea of an arranged marriage with a man from India. I was so stunned at this reasoning that for a minute I was not sure if she was serious! Of course, a man will be more acceptable to get married to an Indian girl. For them, an Indian girl would signify somebody more ‘traditional’ and more likely to ‘adjust’ – while for women – it would the exact opposite, wouldn’t it? They would be more likely to lose the freedom that they grew up in – so obviously, they would object. What stunned me was that people actually judged like this.

With well-educated parents thinking this way – is it a wonder that regressive soaps rule on our small screens?

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63 thoughts on “Soaps and real life – is there any real difference?

  1. I sometimes think education really doesn’t matter in how people think…Anyway, our system of education is based on rote and acceptance of what has already been stated and not independent thinking so obviously ‘educated’ people continue to think regressively…

    That certainly seems to be true.. Education seems to make little difference. I never expected these people to have such regressive ideas..

  2. Hmmm, you should have watched ‘Baalika Vadhu’ in Colors channel. Though they seem to give a message through the story, it is difficult even to watch the serial.

    We don’t get it here.. I am yet to see a serial which is sensible – all channels seem to be the same..

    In our family too, my sis in law has got six children (she is no more now). No grandson at all from the 4 sons. She was not happy because of that, till she died. Thank god, the sons are happy with their daughters! I am happy I have got so many nieces!

    That is so sad, isn’t it? That she died unhappy – why does a grandson hold so much value?

    One more relative has got 5 children and only one grandson. The grandson is so spoilt that he hit his teacher in school!

    oh dear! I don’t understand how people do this! So shocking and so sad!

    Don’t know how long it will take to change the mentality of our people, Smitha.

    I know – it is more worrying when I see people my age or younger than me holding on to such views – the older generation was atleast not as exposed to things – but the younger generation should surely know better?

  3. ***** deep sigh *****

    I could find what well education works actually after these guys who are even parents! such concepts never resemble wideness in thinking…. 😦

    I know..

    Smithapi, I am back after many days! wish I would never miss any more posts of you πŸ˜€ and going to read missed few very soon πŸ™‚

    I have not been regular with blog hopping either – will hop over to yours soon.

  4. 😐 😐 😐
    and this coming from the so-called educated ppl…
    and then they wonder why this country is going to the dogs…

    I know! Not surprising at all, I guess!

  5. I think thatw e never change ourselves, practically i see that every girl when she is young wants to be strong feminist, do away with inlaws ,show everybody that girls are equal and all thatand want to live without any restrictions, but when she grows old, she forgets everything and comes back to all that is old and herein lies the contradiction of minds in our society.


    I don’t think feminism is about doing away with in-laws. And anyways, this post was more about the attitudes of people – who should have known better..

    • Exactly! what is the connection between feminism and doing away with in laws? 😐

      I don’t think anybody dreams of killing in laws since childhood and even before meeting the guy. Aren’t girls equal?


      ‘I don’t think anybody dreams of killing in laws since childhood and even before meeting the guy.’ – Exactly! Aren’t girls equal? – as far as people still think that girls are not equal – things are unlikely to change.

      Women who don’t consider girls equal are the one who ill treat their DILs.

      I agree.

  6. All these daily soaps r crap is what we think … sad but true that they r indeed what goes on in some places 😦 I am just thankful I don’t hv a single such person in my family circle! Wish more women stand up for what they think n feel rather than nodding their head in accordance with what people at home say 😦

    These were friends/acquaintances – who are supposedly well educated, well traveled and people from whom we would not have expected such views.. which is what really shocked me..

  7. Heyy, you forgot to mention in the beginning that this is a guest post by IHM !!!! πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

    LOL! Maybe IHM’s ghost made me do this post πŸ™‚

    You know what you should do, stop having conversations with the ignorant ones; they will remain the same inspite of the era they are living in !!! Talk to people like me for a change !! πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

    I agree! Or better still I should get them to talk to you πŸ˜‰

  8. The prize for the most regressive channel in India should go to Colours. I am amazed at how many ( to use your words) well-educated and well-travelled women see nothing wrong in Balika Vadhu, for example. Is this also a reflection of their views in real life? They constantly deny it…

    We don’t get colors here – guess I am thankful πŸ™‚ I can’t help thinking that it is a reflection of society to some extent..

    Quirky Indian

  9. I don’t watch these serials at all. After Hum Log and Buniyaad, and one more whose name I forget which had Inamdar and Swaroop Sampat I think, I have rarely watched any for more than 10 minutes. Waste of time.


    I agree a total waste of time. We managed to catch this snippet when we were generally channel surfing – only to realise that every channel had drivel like this!

    But since soaps are popular, they must cater to large segments.

    And I guess that just indicates how the large segments think 😦

  10. it is appalling. everytime i catch a promo of a new horror to hit the screen, it disgusts me even more. each new soap is even more backward than the last.


    Welcome here, Mumbai Diva.

    Yes, it certainly looks like they are competing to see who can be the most regressive πŸ™‚

  11. As somebody said above..education cant change ur belief..as education system in india doesnt give much importance to social values or equality..its more of craming of maths and science..

    I agree.

    One of my distant relative cried when she gave birth to second daughter..and said…its ok to have one daughter but second…
    within in year she gave birth to two twin son…
    this is also one of the reason of india’s ever increasing population..ppl keep on trying until they get son..
    I wonder what the fate of those unwanted daughters in the family…

    It is so sad isn’t it? That daughters are so unwanted! When will people learn?

  12. I am convinced that people who mouth stupid regressive platitudes don’t think. They repeat what they have heard from someone else, and the more they hear it, the more they think it is the truth. If the logic is pointed out to them they are likely to be at a loss. As for the serials, I think they are a plague on our society. But then they say that serials and cinema mostly reflect the society. Pathbreaking cinema is one that shows the way, but there are few like this. And on television? Well, there used to be a few good serials, maybe about a decade ago, Rajni was one of them. Today they are mostly rubbish.

    I agree – most of these people do not think – but onw would think that being educated, the thinking process might be a wee bit more evolved!


    Yes, path breaking cinema would make a difference and yes, television is rubbish but is watched by so many people across India, that it is almost dangerous to propogate such regressive ideas through it.

  13. I just hate these serial.They show females as a savitri,sati etc……These women are decked up with so much jewellery and too much sindoor.

    I know! It is so ridiculous!

    Recently there was a news where in a british born female was killed by her ex-husband(indian born) when she was going to pick her kids.The girl is born and brought up in UK and she can’t behave like a indian born girl and maybe that guy was not able to adjust to her lifestyle.I don’t understand why parents get their foreign born girls married to a indian guy?


    I read that too – shocking isn’t it? The poor children – without a mother.. I agree! It is not fair to both the girl and the boy – but still people insist on it – in the name of culture – makes one wonder…

  14. Geez !

    I can understand the soaps… ! but educated people that too parents ?? and above all a woman thinks that way ???

    shocking !

    I know! That does make it worse, doesn’t it – when women themselves think like this?

  15. God!!! Can’t someone just give people like this a huge shaking, that sorts their brains into the right order? I’m not surprised at the ‘woman’ saying such a thing. I think while even men these days are becoming broad-minded and accept the fact that women have come to STAY in every walk of life, its the other women (the ones who’ve been left behind in the race) who actually discriminate against the more educated and cultured of the lot. Methinks its just a disguised version of ‘grapes are sour’. They probably spent their lives being treated as secondary, and want to make sure they do the same for the next generation too.


    I agree! ‘Methinks its just a disguised version of ‘grapes are sour’. They probably spent their lives being treated as secondary, and want to make sure they do the same for the next generation too. ‘ – I totally agree!

  16. Like most Hindi films, while watching most daily soaps we should not use our brain or sensitivities. The women are either too strong, dominant and controlling or with a halo behind their head, angelic, pious, and open to all kind of torture and torment. Most of the men are good for nothing, ready to be manipulated by their mothers or wives.

    I know.. They seem to have just black and white characters..

    The only reason one should watch these daily soaps is to appreciate their designer sarees, jewellery and weird bindi and sindoor. The other benefit is that one can learn about rituals and customs associated with different festivals, marriage and other ceremonies. One more positive is that old ladies who have nothing better to do discuss the bahus of serials instead of criticising their own daughters- in- law. This way harmony in the family is maintained.

    That is another way of looking at it πŸ™‚

  17. You know 10 years back , mallu serials..mother in law were ill treating there daughter in laws…then after 2004’s it become like daughter in law\laws(jointly) are making the life of mother in law hell.Seems since last year all mallus are fed up with this sas – Bahu types …so all channels are airing spiritual serials like ayyapan, sree rama,alphonsama,st thomas etc or reality shows .In between any serials come it will be the love stories of saas -bahu πŸ˜€ (they are team against others in the house) ……. seriously i’m not joking πŸ™‚

    As far as it is not the regressive stuff -it is alright I guess πŸ™‚

    most boys brought up abroad seem to be …. heard a lot about it(and experienced it 😦 )…Like they prefer first class homely girls and stealing our precious crushes\girl friends on one fine day πŸ™„ …sigh …..good 2 hear that coz of these ‘rakhsasas’ not only us, but also NRI girls also affected πŸ™‚

    lol! Anish! of all the things!

    how her husband was the cherished may be he is the youngest or he is staying away from his parents for a long time….that may be the reason and it happens everywhere πŸ™‚

    Well- as far as it is not simply because it is the ‘son’ – I think it is alright, but here the reason she stated was that he was cherished because he was a son – the only son!

  18. Sometimes I feel that we keep blaming TV for showing regressive shows when the reality is that we are regressive. We talk about change in mindset but in Rural India things are yet to change!!!

    I agree. And not just in rural India – even in the urban cities, there are people who think like that!

    In fact why only Rural India that’s the mindset of majority of Indians, not that things are not changing but the change isn’t as vast as we wud wish it to be!

    Yes, absolutely!

    • I agree with this point. The reason that they keep have these same old regressive themes in serials is because there are many, many people willing to lap it up. If more folks were to stop watching this rubbish I am sure channels will come up with better stuff.

    • Let’s say the majority of Indians think this way, we who are against all this are hardly 1% just like the population of India who speak n read the English Language (ok! that is around 6-8%) and we feel we are a majority because of the circles we move in…hain na! The Educated are the most hypocrites in this matter! And the woman makes life miserable for other women.

      Just yesterday a woman (I happen to talk to/play TT with) asked me how exactly I was related to the man I am seen playing with at the club, because (and she listed) I technically wear no mangalsutra or wedding bands on my fingers or toe, no pallu covering my head or the sindoor or the bindi (…or the n number of things that make one look a wife in public…) in a good humoured way!

      Can this be attributed to as the influence of soaps or are the reel lives a reflection of the real… It’s just the attitude majority of the Indians harbour… Gender bias n the such… When will all this change!!

  19. You’re so right,Smits. Some of the serials are so regressive. In fact even I thought of Balika Badhu,like Sandhya,when I read your post. I do watch the serial whenever I can because it does give out some strong positive messages. But sometimes the serial makers can really go overboard in their obsession to get maximum TRPs.

    This sons-more-favourable-than-daughters mindset is so ingrained in our society that no amount of education and awareness seems to be helping the mentality to change 😦

  20. Nice. The girl does not want to be trapped in a loveless arranged marriage and she is branded spoilt. Very nice.
    Education has nothing to do with prejudices or lack of it. I know some highly educated people who treat their daughters like shit and the son like a king!

  21. I have seen this too, “… the woman also felt that her position in her in-laws place was enhanced because she was the wife of the cherished son and the mother of the cherished grandson.” This is what conditioning does to people. If she had a daughter she would have accepted that as her (bad) destiny.
    Only Nuclear families, with working and financially secure mothers will change this – it is changing but he change is too slow. Reminds me of Marin Luther King Jr saying he was sure eventually African Americans will have equal rights, but it will be a slow, long drawn process.

    And I have also heard mothers of NRI sons talk about which girls are good and which ones are bad and why with similar reasoning. Women have got used to feeling good about themselves depending on their male relatives, so they must secure their positions…

    These serials are an indication of women having totally accepted this as their fate.

  22. he higher TRPs do prove that these serials do indeed reflect what is deep inside our society. A girl is nice is she just plainly obeys her parents, inlaws and husband and if she is wearing a cut sleeves blouse, open hair……whoa, you gotta run away, she is the evil one.
    I have seen many many so called educated, progressive families who share the views shown in these serials.

  23. I cannot stand these serials anymore. They never change. Rarely do I see parents who treat girls and boys equally. They do love them both, but just prefer to raise them differently.

    This reminds me of my visit to a doctor’s house in our town. They are the richest in our town and own half the businesses in town. There were lot of family pictures, small pictures of their children, grand children etc collaged. But there was a big framed photo that stood out – of their only son. I thought about the bias as I could not see such a big photo of any of their daughters.

  24. there’s only a reel difference really….after all these soap makers draw their stories from somewhere and we’ve heard these stories and plight numerous times….. most people tend to talk and not walk the talk…..and one would expect women who were once subjected to these situation would understand and not do it themselves….but they do….but times are slowly changing, in small pockets…..

  25. this is not true in my life..

    one of my best friends is 2nd generation indian and married a guy from india..
    they are very happily married and have a daughter..

    I am sure there are plenty of people perfectly happy with this. All I feel is that if either th boy or girl is not happy with it – it does not automatically mean that they are ‘spoilt’.

    i have seen many indians marrying whites though too..

    I think it all happens – whatever works for each person, really.

  26. Nope… I think there are significant changes in Indian sops. There are ones with males as the opressed class.

    There are female characters with gray shades, who orders goondas to beat up their opponents.
    female characters who heads businesses and troubles their in-laws for a change.

    Soaps may be boring still… but surely the outlook has changed

  27. (The link i Given above is invalis :D)
    Nope… I think there are significant changes in Indian sops. There are ones with males as the opressed class.

    There are female characters with gray shades, who orders goondas to beat up their opponents.
    female characters who heads businesses and troubles their in-laws for a change.

    Of course there are dark/gray shaded characters – but from the little that I have seen – there is also plenty of gender stereotyping that is there.. But then, I donot watch these – so I might be mistaken..

    Soaps may be boring still… but surely the outlook has changed

    Has the outlook changed- I never seem to get to see any different soaps πŸ™‚ Welcome here, Jon.

  28. No matter the rant against them-because there are probably hordes of people watching them for what they show. And the attitude of preferring sons over daughters is so ingrained in our society that it’ll be decades before they change.
    Can we do anything about it?

    Not much I guess-except bring our daughters up in a way that they know they are just as wanted.

    Yes, you are right Hypermom – that is about all that we can do.. and I guess at least what most of us would do..

  29. Pingback: Read popular blogs of India by Indian bloggers

  30. Yay,Smits!! Congratulations on the blogadda pick.Your post had to be picked! Very well deserved πŸ™‚

    Thanks loads, Deeps – just realised some time back – spent the whole morning playing scrabble with you guys and did not get a chance to log in here πŸ™‚

  31. Congrats on the Blogadda pick Smitha πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

    and why are you calling them as educated??? I don’t know what kind of education they got….

    you know I know a family very close to me which ill-treated and still ill-treats their daughter but at the same time cherishing their sons..

    and what more.. they cherish the grandsons of sons more than than the granddaughters of son…. people have some stupid beliefs….

  32. Smitha, these serials, particularly on Star plus, are pretty stupid and regressive.

    I find that at least in the cities, people in India are changing to more progressive views, though we may not think so from watching the serials on TV!

    BTW congrats on the Blogadda Tangy Tuesdays’ pick!

  33. To think that being educated makes one gifted is totally wrong. The education system has been a failure as still there are many old customs that has been carried on by the educated people itself.

    So no guesses over why these regressive serials are being shown instead of progressive ones. Unless the mindset change, nothing will happen.

    In my opinion they should start showing reruns of old serials of doordarshan days they were far more progressive than what is being shown today

  34. Congrats on the blog adda pick! πŸ™‚

    This topic, the damn serials… ugh!
    The people need a change in mindset, then maybe, we can hope our TV serials will change!


    I wish. I really feel that television serials have the power to change the way people think – but they sadly, do more to reinforce the age old fundas..

    The costumes, the jewellery are so weird!
    Who dresses like that at the dead of the night?
    Why will anyone in their right minds, go to bed, completely dressed with makeup on?!!

    I agree ! Completely mindless!

    And the whole thought of sons-better-than-daughter is so irritating and frustrating!!
    Absolutely!

  35. “In another conversation, another well educated woman told me how sons of NRIs seem to be less spoilt – but the daughters all seem to turn out spoilt. She was very convinced about this. When asked why – she said that most boys brought up abroad seem to be fine with an arranged marriage with an Indian girl but the girls all seem to vehemently oppose the idea of an arranged marriage with a man from India.”

    Smi, someone here told me the exact same thing and you know what is funny in that? The woman who told me that eloped with the guy in India and she was the one who suggested eloping because her father was against the marriage. They had honeymoon and all that then came back and lived with parents and I think later convinced them or something. Her father didn’t know about his daughter’s eloping saga till the end.

    Anyways, now this woman has a son and now her logic is different. She says the girls abroad are too broadminded and are also too mature. They trap poor innocent guys. She also said that her son is an innocent guy and she doesn’t trust those “smart” girls around. Look at this hypocrite woman!

    Such hypocrites! Unbelievable! How can people talk like this?

    As you said, I have seen this trend in some Gujarati families abroad who bring brides from India because they want submissive Indian girls. Girls here know too much and might help their sons grow some backbone. πŸ˜€


    ‘Girls here know too much and might help their sons grow some backbone. :D’ – LOL! That is for sure πŸ™‚ I can’t believe the double standards!

  36. Smi, you didn’t put the blogadda thingy. Congratulations!

    Will do it today – was busy the last couple of days – haven’t been able to sit at the laptop in peace πŸ™‚

  37. I used to think the old K serials were regressive, but the odd promo of current shows that I see now & then makes Tulsi & company look absolutely modern! The sheer number of serials advocating a lifestyle of a century ago!!! And obviously if there are so many, that means there are that many viewers too, which just reaffirms my belief that a mere formal education process does NOT guarantee a good, open-minded human being; that has to be supplemented by a proper value system and a sense of integrity, decency & respect for all humanity.

  38. Agree with the last bit, a majority of these soap operas are so goddamn regressive. Dunno why traditional Indian values equates a subjugation of women.

    Good post.

  39. Smitha.. Congratulations!

    since I dont watch serials, I am out of touch with these dramas.. nd I was amused by Anish’s comments… now Kerala has more “godly” serials πŸ™‚

    but then it is true that the girls brought up outside the state now prefers to marry from outside too.. while the opposite maybe true for the boys as Anish pointed out..

    does it mean that the girls have moved ahead while the boys are still longing for the “homely” girls?

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