Thursday, April 24, 2008

Serial Syndrome

What is it with Indian serials? Whenever I see an Indian serial, I've always thought that there was something weird. But now, after seeing American and British serials(I even watched a French serial once), the differences are mind blowing. These are some of the differences I found(Readers! You are welcome to add to the list. :)):
1) Why is it that the characters in each serial are fully made up even when its night and all they do in the scene is to retire in the night?
2) Why is the humor so crass or worse still they do abject twisting of lines to get some "so called" humor? (couldn't stop comparing with SouthPark which made up a humor genre of its own)
3) Why is there a main protagonist and all the problems, ever made in the world, affect her/him? (Here, the directors are very feminist. All the protagonists are women. Eg: Abhi from Kolangal, the K serials, etc. Or do they send out a message that women always land in soup however good they are? Or is it done for a higher TRP rating? If so, aren't people interested when a man suffers? What sort of a message are we sending to the future generation?)
4) Why is it that there is always one unnecessary twist at the end of every episode? (Eg. A person gets down from the auto, walks to the gate(mind you, all this is shown in slow motion so as to kill the last five minutes of that episode), opens the gate and knocks on the door. Then, surprise of surprise, he has a surprised look on his face(As if he expected a human being to open the door and an alien did, or worse, the opposite.) and the episode ends. Couldn't stop commenting: Edhukku ivangalukku ivlo scene?)
5) Why is it that all the serials follow the same storyline? (if the protagonist in one serial goes to jail, the protagonist in another serial HAS to go to jail too... even if the storyline doesn't warrant it... Is this called springing surprises on the viewers? I would call it just plain confusing. My maid put it succinctly. She could no longer make much difference between the two serials. Eg: Abhirami from Anandham and Abhi from Kolangal went to jail in less than a week's time. Lol!)
6) Why is it that even in abject poverty(according to the storyline), the characters come dressed in the latest of fashions? (the one thankful grace was Metti Oli, where I could finally saw some characters dressed in the manner of normal people).
7) Why is it that when you think that a serial is different and interesting, it goes back to the normal formulae? (Eg. Kadhalikka Neramillai. I thought that serial was different and was interested to know how it went. But now, its so crap that sometimes I seriously wonder if it is being directed by the same person.)
8) Why is it that I can stop watching a serial for a year and watch it again only to pick up the story in a matter of minutes? Has the story not moved at all in that year?
9) Why is it that even "thriller" serials have black magic(there is no dearth of them in India) of some form? Can't the directors give something that thrills by the story and not by Mantras and Tantras?
10) Why is it that illegal issues are shown as commonplace on serials? (Eg. it is illegal to have two wives by the Indian law. But every serial has a character who has two wives and it is taken for granted. Also, come the scenes where people drink and drive, where hitting women is commonplace(there is a law that whenever a person is hit in a public place, anyone can give a complaint, more severe is the punishment if it is a woman being hit), where lewd comments and double entendre dialogues are rampant when even talking risque in public places can land you in trouble, etc.)
11) Why is it that women are shown to be either too patient or too sassy? In real life, none of the women are like that. (Eg. In MettiOli, there is one character who puts up with all the crap(mind you, its the worst crap possible) just so that her dad would be pleased(Lady, if you suffer, your dad would still be hurt. Its better to not suffer so much and make your dad feel sad than suffering for his sake. Would any dad want that?). Then when her dad dies, she walks away from it all. Does it mean she was waiting for her dad to die so that she can escape from the tortuous prison? Come on!!) Too much exaggeration seems to have become the norm nowadays. And that is not good, considering how far reaching the effects of TV are.
12) Why is it that violence of ridiculous levels be shown on TV? Why is it that scenes like murder, rape, etc are shown in graphic detail? And mothers happily let kids watch them. What sort of life is it coming to? I fondly remember the K.Balachandar serials like "adutha veetu jannal", "Premi", "Kadhal Pagadai", etc that were kid-safe(meaning, my parents can let us watch it without their supervision). Where did such serials go? There were also others like "Ragasiyathukul Ragasiyam", "Marma Desam", etc. when my mom was always nearby keeping an eye on what we saw. When we were kids, we had to get up and walk to our rooms(my mother would find 'instant' errands for us to do) when overage stuff was shown on TV. Now, we protect our parents like that :D We watch something first(movies, especially), then deem it parent-safe or not and then let our parents watch it. Else, they'll watch it and crib about it for days as to how the society has turned out. My parents are happy with this arrangement and my sister and I get to watch latest stuff too. A win-win situation :)

Nowadays, lots of Indian families say that they spend time with their kids in front of the television, their definition of "family time" or "quality time with kids". Accepted, we can't dictate as to how every parent should spend time with their kids. But what is disheartening is that kids get exposed to the adult world too fast, too soon. They lose their innocence and ask over-age questions. It might sound funny at that time, but its not so. Is robbing kids of their innocence our goal? Let the kids grow over time. The home is supposed to be the safest haven in the world. And, if the TV serials can intrude that haven and cause havoc watched by helpless parents, it becomes an issue of concern. I'm only reminded of a tamil proverb "Pinjilae pazhuthathu rusikaathu" (that which ripens when too young, will not be tasty). This applies not only to fruits and vegetables but also to people. The beauty of growing up is in knowing things at the right time, not in knowing things before hand. The kids have work cut out for them, in protecting their innocence from the attacks of the big, bad, mean world. Or as my roommate says, "there is no innocence in the world, only ignorance". If you take that approach, sure, let your kids know all that is there to know. But make sure the information comes from authentic sources and not cheap books, movies, etc. And certainly not TV serials.


Arun said...

1. serials(well,most of them i wud guess) are not made for ppl like audience for indian serials is mostly housewives. target for audience in US, is both men and women and not kids or teenagers. they are busy poking thier friends on myspace/facebook or trash talking on youtube.
2. even indian movies are far from reality. only thing that happens in all
tamil movies is falling in love and fighting to get married, which is statistically less in real.
ps: i havent read the full article. its too big :)

Superficial Gibbering prater said...

Well..Well..well..I have sooo much to say on this topic.tat i better write a post myself on this.first things first..I think ur roomie is rite.."There is no such thing as innocence,there is only ignorance".

But i guess,ppl who watch these serials also know wat they are watching.With TV u atleast have a remote control,u dont have tat luxury wid all other things in life :P

alpine path said...

Arun, true! But even housewives would appreciate the serials being closer to the actual reality than being dished out crap right? Or, are they too bored and willing to accept any kind of crap meted out?

superficial gibbering prater, :) Waiting eagerly for your post. And, people who watch these serials don't watch them just to kill time. Tell me, how many people can switch off the TV and walk away from these serials at a moment's notice? I know of people who would schedule their other activities(like cooking, shopping, etc) around these serials. So, is the remote of any use in this case?