You know it’s 9 pm at my home when my mother promptly ceases everything she’s been doing to sit in front of TV set and devote half an hour watching Diya aur Baati; a merciless bore of a TV show, which, however wretched, happens to be Hindi entertainment channel’s most coveted soap opera. Having said that, I have been following the show as ardently as my mom does since its very inception. Sounds tad hypocritical, innit?
Without delving further into as to why I watch a show that I’m evidently embarrassed to admit watching, let’s move to the bit wherein I endeavor to defend my choice by underscoring a certain positive out of an otherwise ghastly Saas-Bahu saga.
The show, like every other Hindi serial made available for public viewing, is doing everything wrong. Saintly daughter-in-law with a truck load of Sanskar entrenched, dreadfully obedient and whiter than white portrayal of a son, a meddlesome and unashamedly misogynistic mother-in-law; this show has every making of a typically nauseous and cringe-worthy Hindi daily soap. However, amidst all the gloom what caught my eye is a refreshing portrayal of a female character, who not being the protagonist shouldn’t have mattered at all.
Beginning on antagonistic note, the showrunners unintentionally transformed the character (who, by the way, is one of the many Bahu of a self-indulgent clan), into occasional rational and regular individual. In an industry where characters are either overtly angelic or viciously demonic, coming across an ordinary personality with humble shades of grey is quite fascinating.
The lady in question does everything a normal day-to-day person will do; earn hard and spend warily, prioritize the welfare of her husband and children over the interest of others. Bearing in mind the fact that a working woman whose job plays a pivotal role in her life is a sight to behold in Indian television scenario, this female character, who knows just about every trick of her trade, is quite delightful. Mutinous and gleeful version of a woman, who isn’t genetically carved out to do everything right might be deemed as villainous by the traditional majority. I, however, am anticipating the day when such a whip-smart individual, who knows better than to shed buckets of tears over bygones, is being promoted as the central character. That, for me, would mark the coming out of television industry from its deep slumber.