That Indian soap operas are pretty problematic is a fact universally acknowledged. However, "how problematic" is a question that can be still examined. For me, the idea of Indian soaps started with shows like Kahaani Ghar Ghar Kii and Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi. Every time I went to my nani's house, I'd see the entire family lining up in front of the TV after dinner and watching these shows with crazy intensity.
Thankfully, my family wasn't one to indulge in this ludicrousness. The safe distance helped me with the realisation that something was seriously off with these shows. I also thought that things will get better with time. However, the hopes were soon quashed with a slew of crazy, supernatural shows like Kavach, Tantra, and Nazar taking over prime time television. In fact, I recently watched a promo of Colors TV's Pinjara Khubsurti Ka, and boy, things only seem to be going further south.
For those of you who remain blissfully unaware of the mind-numbing world of Indian TV, Pinjara Khubsurti Ka is a show about how a woman, Mayura, is constantly stuck in a metaphorical cage owing to her "fair skin" and a stereotypically beautiful face. Her husband, Omkar, is a marble merchant who loves all things beautiful, has a botched up horoscope, which says that he'll marry a beautiful girl but will never really have her, and thus ends up marrying her by deceit. Oh also, he is very protective of her beauty and would not tolerate as much as a "daag" or even smudged makeup on his wife's face. However, she soon finds out about his reality, tries to escape, and thus finds herself in a literal cage. Yup.
Mayura, of course, freaks out after this new turn of events and plots to escape the golden 'pinjra' and furry handcuffs that she is captured in. Sadly, she misses out just by a smudge and thus, gets captivated again. But to carry on with the high octane drama, the makers now have a brand new twist.
In the latest promo of the show, Omkar can be seen attacking Mayura, hitting her face with a heart-shaped marble, and scarring it. The promo is extremely disturbing to watch and is sure to leave a shiver down your spine.
Now, here's the thing. Not only is this content too problematic and violent to be aired on national television but also highly counterproductive. Yes, we get that the makers are trying to make a statement and send out the message that it is the inner beauty that counts. But the way it is being executed can't get any worse.
To show a man hitting a woman on a camera is a huge risk given the highly impressionable Indian audience. Plus, the messaging isn't exactly clear here. To begin with, Omkar is shown to be the hero of the show, who is haunted by his dark, dirty past and therefore obsessed with all things beautiful. There are scenes that give a romantic angle to Mayura and Omkar's story. And while the makers might be campaigning against the idea of outer beauty as a virtue, they have overlooked problems like domestic violence and, of course, toxic masculinity here. Also, it's really irresponsible of the makers to overlook how triggering this scene can be for survivors of domestic violence.
It is high time, Indian soap opera makers should start putting in real efforts behind the concepts instead of just coming up with a cause for the heck of TRPs and not committing to it at all. Because truth be told, these soaps are hitting a new low every day and we are really concerned.