Soaps and real life – is there any real difference?

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We had been channel surfing the other day when we came across  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)  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?