Women all over - Part I

By , agencyfaqs! | In | September 24, 2001
Whatever the reasons, television programming has become women-oriented, making some sad, and some happy


It was a small item quietly tucked away in a little corner of the topsy-turvy world that is television. Sometime back STAR Plus pulled Ji Mantriji (Yes Minister) out of the prime-time 9.00 p.m. slot, once reserved for the once mighty Kaun Banega Crorepati, and replaced it with Kangan, a serial aimed at women. One small indication of how dear women have become to television programming.

For quite some time now, Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi (KSBKBT) has been at the top of all TV ratings, followed by Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki - both women-oriented programmes. Forget the channel, just look at the sheer number of serials, aimed at women, that are now on television - KSBKBT, Kalash, Shagun, Dulhan, Bahuraniyan, Mehendi Tere Naam Ki, Shehnai, Kabhi Sautan Kabhi Saheli, Ghar Ek Mandir, Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki It is a list that just seems to go on

So why is it that women-oriented programming is such a big hit?

One reason: The characters. Traditional Tulsi or feisty Aarti (KSBKBT). Confused Bulbul in Kalash. Tara in Zee's Tara. They are so many, that they appeal to everyone. Says a senior analyst at TAM, "Women can identify with these characters, and then there is the high emotional content. Indian audiences have always been attracted to serials with a high emotional content."

It has not been a sudden shift. Heralding the change were serials like Saans and Shanti when women came to be the pivotal point around which the stories revolved. And after that came Kora Kagaz, and Zee's Amaanat. Earlier, women-oriented serials like Sukanya and Shanti were afternoon fare. And family-oriented serials like Hum Log, Buniyaad, Khandan, or Yeh Joh Hai Zindagi were prime time. It is a trend that has changed. "The afternoon slot has moved to prime-time," is how one analyst describes the new trend.

It's women all the way. Even in a comedy serial like Tu Tu Main Main, the men are just props. Or take Zee's Amaanat. Seven daughters. And Santosh. But, is television programming responding to women, or is it that women are watching more TV because television is increasingly women-oriented? "That is a classic chicken-and-egg question," chuckles Uday Sinh Wala, chief operating officer, In House Productions Pvt Ltd, and goes on to disagree that television programming is women-oriented. "It is all about being emotionally-oriented. Television programming has been able to appeal to the emotions of women, but I am sure that if a serial appeals to the emotions of men, that too would be successful."

Others attribute the trend to the fact that increasingly women are becoming the major consumers of media the world over. "If you take SEC A homes, and aggregate the number, you will always find that a lot more women watch TV than men," points out Sandip Tarkas, associate vice-president and manager, Mindshare.

Of course, there are those who see sinister connotations in the kind of programming that has come in, and the kind of woman that has been projected. Feminist scholars decry the glorification of 'a certain kind' of Indian woman in the serials, a woman who is subservient to Indian tradition. Such scholars have argued that Indian television serials, while paying lip service to the idea of women's liberation and modernity, highlight and reinforce the essentially upper caste Hindu idea of the Indian woman, casting this idea into the mainstream to secure approval from the 'majority'. For example, they argue, Tulsi in KSBKBT is very different from the feisty Svetlana Banerjee of Swabhimaan, or Tara and her friends in Tara or the women of Junoon, Banegi Apni Baat and Parampara.

To such critics, the wheel has come full circle from Kavita Choudhary as ASP Kalyani in Udaan or Priya Tendulkar in Rajani to the Saas and Bahus on today's idiot box.

Things have changed. That cannot be denied. The question is: Why?

(To be concluded tomorrow.)

© 2001 agencyfaqs!