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    Ekta Kapoor: The Star of Star Plus


    by Rumbold on 9th September, 2008 at 8:47 pm    

    This is a guest post by Amrit

    Ekta Kapoor is the leading light of Balaji Telefilms and Star Plus – but at whose expense?

    Star Plus and its fellow Star channels are cable/satellite Hindi entertainment channels ludicrously popular among ex-pat Indians; Star Plus is the most popular Hindi-language entertainment channel in India. It features a mix of soaps, celebrity talkshows, films, lifestyle programming and children’s TV. The channel seems to be aimed at women, what with the fact that the first two types of programme are often seen as especially popular with women, and because in this case, ‘lifestyle programming’ more or less means ‘cookery programmes’. Soaps appear to be the most-watched type of programme on Star Plus (even if just because of their abundance!), and there are at least five shown a day, all day, unlike in the UK. Balaji Telefilms produces many of Star Plus’ biggest hits, most notably Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi (‘Because a mother-in-law was once a daughter-in-law too,’ henceforth referred to as Kyunki). The most popular soap in India and Afghanistan, it will be oft-mentioned in this article, as a template for and influence on, other shows.

    Ekta Kapoor is Balaji’s head writer, famous for launching soaps whose names begin with a ‘k’ as a psychic told her that doing so would bring her luck/make them successful (it seems to have worked so far). Having watched Star Plus more than twice, her soaps become instantly recognisable (not least because they dominate the schedule), and appear (unfortunately) to have set the precedent for other writers and channels to follow.

    What, then, are the hallmarks of a classic Ekta Kapoor production? Cliché-ridden dialogue, infuriating triple close-ups (each closer than its predecessor, till you feel sure the camera will hit the actor’s face), mawkish music, ‘acting’, notoriously repetitive storylines – and female misogyny.

    It is the combination of those last two features that becomes so unsettling. Ekta’s female protagonists repeatedly face some sort of threat to their families’ wellbeing, which, eight times out of ten – at least – comes from another woman. So, we, the viewers, get a pick-and-mix of: gold-digger ex-wives / daughters-in-law, resentful and/or jealous ex-mistresses/wives, evil mothers/mothers-in-law, scheming potential wives/daughters-in-law, and female professionals (businesswomen, lawyers, policewomen…) who become involved with the families for whatever reason (the latter often becomes the former). You can apply almost any of the labels I’ve used to almost any of these women: ‘gold-digger,’ ‘jealous,’ ‘scheming,’… the list goes on.

    In an unsurprisingly simplistic Madonna/whore-style breakdown, the protagonists pitted against these women tend to be their binary opposites. These are the devoted daughters- and mothers-in-law who are quiet, obedient, good at cooking and housework, and live for their husbands and family. Where the evil females tend to be motivated by the desire to break up marriages and/or harass their ex-husbands and/or steal the family money or property, these characters are motivated by the desire to hold their families together and, quite often, prolong the survival of an elderly relative. All this while wearing the latest fashions, living in unaccountable luxury and bearing ‘children’ who, in young adulthood, seem to be only about five years their junior.

    Obviously not based on reality, you say, so what’s the problem? The problem is that this is in India, a country where TV and cinema have incredible power. For example, Smriti Irani, the actress responsible for taking Tulsi, the protagonist of Kyunki to iconic levels, was able to leave the show and join the BJP (the Bharat Junta Party, a somewhat fundamentalist and conservative Hindu political group). Could you imagine an actress making the crossover from soaps to politics like that here in the UK? TV and the cinema have a monumental reach, which is just not matched in this country (perhaps because of the Internet’s rising prominence). As a third-generation British Asian, I have also noticed the tendency of Asian expatriate communities to become ultra-conservative, almost as if to match those ‘back home’… hence not only buying, but buying into, what they are seeing, because it is a product of the Homeland.

    All of which means the implications of the women-on-women hate in the storylines become even more worrying, especially once you look at some of the other things coded in alongside. The hyperfeminine ‘Madonnas’ are shown with long hair, dressing (and preferring to dress) exclusively in Indian dress. The ‘whores’, in contrast, wear fashionable, ultra-modern Indian dress and Western or Western-inspired clothes and often have deeper voices – in short, they are virtually men. They also often have short hair, and here I cite as examples Mandira (played by Achint Kaur), legendary ex-mistress of Tulsi’s husband, Mihir in Kyunki; the policewoman ACP Ragini (Sudha Chandran), currently seeking to convict Mihir for murder, and Komolika (Urvashi Dholakia), the scheming ex-wife from Kasauti Zindagii Ki. The storylines rarely vary: evil woman (or, occasionally, man) casting aspersions on good woman’s character, poisoning relatives against her etc. until the very family that she claims to stand for cast her out. The ‘Madonnas’ pray, the ‘whores’ deceive.

    This is where the repetitive element becomes important. We are unwittingly manipulated into judging these two female stereotypes a certain way repeatedly; not just in one, but the majority of soaps on Star Plus. My fear is that their constant rotation will lend them credibility that they do not deserve in some parts of Indian society, with women being forcibly compared and identified with one or the other. The message seems clear: Tradition good, modernity bad. Ekta Kapoor is a successful and independent single woman (frequently pictured in Western clothes) which begs the final question: what, exactly, is her agenda?

    …….

    This is a guest post. Amrit blogs here.


         
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    Filed in: Culture, India, Sex equality






    43 Comments below   |  

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    1. Amrit — on 9th September, 2008 at 8:52 pm  

      I am in shock, even though I knew this was coming.

      *sits back and waits for negative comments to flood in*

    2. Rumbold — on 9th September, 2008 at 8:58 pm  

      Amrit:

      “Ekta Kapoor is Balaji’s head writer, famous for launching soaps whose names begin with a ‘k’ as a psychic told her that doing so would bring her luck/make them successful (it seems to have worked so far).”

      Heh.

    3. Ala — on 9th September, 2008 at 11:27 pm  

      This is far too intellectual a post to attract much attention. All I can say is that it is a refreshing injection of social science reporting as opposed to the usual race politics and current affairs. Bravo!

    4. Leon — on 9th September, 2008 at 11:52 pm  

      Heh Ala may have a point, as I said the other night if you want comments you need to throw up some George Galloway youtube footage!

    5. JuggyD — on 9th September, 2008 at 11:56 pm  

      While i applaud your stance on how awfull these soaps are, your postings go haywire when you appear to suggest that the shows are (cue x-files music) somehow sinisterly manipulating the audience.

      Firstly, you claim this theory, on evidence most story lines tend to be women on women. Not really true, as there have been many male orientated storylines. The biggest storyline was the Mother in Kyunku shooting her evil son.

      Secondly, the producer of these shows Ekta Kapoor isn’t bright enough to be so sinister. If you have ever seen her interviews you will know what i mean. She had big daddys money behind her, and hit upon a lucky formula that works. Her interlect level probably reflects most of India (ie low) thus ironically she connects to the audience.

      The shows are awfull, agreed. Sinisterly manipulative, NO.

    6. Desi Italiana — on 10th September, 2008 at 12:15 am  

      “Secondly, the producer of these shows Ekta Kapoor isn’t bright enough to be so sinister. If you have ever seen her interviews you will know what i mean.”

      Just two weeks ago, I saw her on Koffee with Karan, and she really isn’t all that bright. But she’s a big ass flirt, though. Really big.

    7. Desi Italiana — on 10th September, 2008 at 12:21 am  

      JuggyD:

      “Firstly, you claim this theory, on evidence most story lines tend to be women on women. Not really true, as there have been many male orientated storylines.”

      I do agree with you that there are male oriented storylines in Kasam Se, for example, but it’s uncanny the way the whole Roman Catholic Madonna/Whore dichotomy gets played out, even if the ladhka is evil or unjust to the woman. Like take Bani and Mr. Jai Walia- for a long time, he treated Bani like crap, and we the viewers think that this is unjust precisely because she is the ‘ideal’ woman: always putting other people’s happiness over her own, family oriented, innocent, not a mean bone in her body, etc. Whereas her sister is a big kooti who got Jai to impregnate her. See how women are depicted as either Madonna (Bani) or Whore (Bani’s sister)?

      I wouldn’t say that this portrayal of women is sinisterly manipulated, but I do think that Ekta Kapoor either consciously or unconsciously taps into social conceptions about womanhood, marriage, etc (BTW, all Indian soap operas are centered around marriage.)

    8. Desi Italiana — on 10th September, 2008 at 12:28 am  

      Amrit:

      Great post, it’s nice that someone spends more than like 5 minutes on writing and developing their thoughts in a post.

      This line:

      “All of which means the implications of the women-on-women hate in the storylines become even more worrying, especially once you look at some of the other things coded in alongside.”

      I disagree. There were two male characters who were badmaashes, hating on innocent Madonnajis in Kasam Se. I just think that all of the storylines in all of Kapoors crap- I mean, shows- revolve around the ideal, virtuous bahu who have a lot of haters, both female and male.

    9. Nyrone — on 10th September, 2008 at 1:10 am  

      LoL@ Leon…I’m sure it would have been possible to integrate George Galloway into the main body of this article somehow, perhaps with photos of him and Shahrukh Khan at the recent Asian Awards show…

      I like this article, because it’s discussing something I’ve never read a proper article on, but can clearly see every time I visit my Mum and sisters, who watch shows like Kasautii Zindagii Kay and Kusum religiously…fawning over every detail, probably subconsciously being influenced by the ‘values’ it espouses…

      Similar to Juggy, I doubt Ekta Kapoor has some grand cultural stagnation scheme going on, she’s probably just motivated by money and has used her brain to figure out the perfect formula for a drama that will appeal and keep people glued to their seats across India, whilst discussing the wildly unrealistic storylines. I guess I’ve always viewed these shows as complete crap and have stayed far away from, but I do accept that they probably have (like much media) a strong impact and effect on the millions of people watching them…but what would you prefer Amrit? More modern depictions? less clichéd female protagonists? Bollywood already does that..and isn’t most drama crude, unrealistic and simplified anyway? Is Eastenders an accurate depiction of this country? and isn’t Hollywood also guilty of largely having black/white ultra-simple female character stereotypes in their films too?

      It seems like the biggest issue you have, is that these shows are turning the clocks back on feminism, amplifying the outdated clichés from yesteryear, and therefore in a way, holding the women and girls who watch them in a kind of traditional bondage, who may feel as if they have to fit into the narrow good/bad confines dictated by these shows…

      But I think you are probably overstating the influence these shows have in forming those kind of societal habits. They are glorified dramatic fairy tales, woven from simple plots and themes. I don’t think that somebody like Ekta Kapoor is purposely trying to take women’s rights backwards, I think the issue boils down to having very simple, black/white, well-worn storylines that the majority of viewers can relate to, and unfortunately, it seems that at this moment in time it’s these car-crash Indian dramas with their lightning bolt sound effects, never-ending swish pan shots, slow-motion crying scenes and crash zoom close-ups that are keeping the public permanently entertained, because what else explains the fact that people love watching them?

      What kind of shows would you like to see more on TV?
      What would you do first week as new writer/director of one of these shows?

    10. Jai — on 10th September, 2008 at 9:49 am  

      Great article, Amrit. In various forms I’ve occasionally voiced some of the same observations and concerns myself in the past here on PP.

      Ekta Kapoor is a successful and independent single woman (frequently pictured in Western clothes)

      Somewhat ironically, considering some of the regressive and highly conservative attitudes her soaps depict and (some would say) promote, she’s on record as saying one of her favourite shows is the American version of “Queer as Folk”. Go figure.

      which begs the final question: what, exactly, is her agenda?

      Her agenda is presumably to play to the lowest, largest common denominator and “tell the audience what they want to hear”. In other words…..

      but I do think that Ekta Kapoor either consciously or unconsciously taps into social conceptions about womanhood, marriage, etc (BTW, all Indian soap operas are centered around marriage.)

      …..what Desi Italiana said.

      Based on the numerous interviews I’ve seen and the impression I’ve gained of her personality, I’ve also wondered if, in her private moments, Ms Kapoor is actually having a laugh at the Indian public’s expense (at least regarding her soaps’ audence) about the fact that she’s able to deliberately play to such a large number of people’s prejudices and push their buttons, and the fact that she’s apparently got/getting away with it.

      By the way, along with all the other correct observations you’ve made, another one I could add is that Indian characters from the West are also frequently depicted negatively in her soaps.

    11. Jai — on 10th September, 2008 at 9:52 am  

      her soaps become instantly recognisable (not least because they dominate the schedule), and appear (unfortunately) to have set the precedent for other writers and channels to follow.

      There’s definitely been a deterioration in the overall quality of this type of Indian programming since her saas-bahu soaps took off. Thinking back to about a decade ago, I can remember Indian serials (at least those received on the limited desi satellite channels available here at the time) being noticeably more intelligent — even if some of them involved Dallas/Dynasty-style stuff like one business tycoon pitted against another business tycoon, both of them arch-enemies — and certainly being more restrained in terms of acting and the overall “style”. Some shows, particularly those on the Sony channel, were also quite ground-breaking and innovative in the way they addressed various Indian social issues.

      A lot of Pakistani serials were also better than the saas-bahu variety, in terms of acting, storylines and (again) overall direction (ie. no “sudden closeups with jarring background music” etc) — that guy Humayun Saeed seems to have been in a lot of them. Some of the shows on Sony have actually reminded me more of their Pakistani equivalents than Ms Kapoor’s creations.

      By the way, who else remembers “Dastaan”, the soap based in Dubai ? It was brilliant. Parmeet Sethi was quite cool in it — but let’s not forget the suave, super-charismatic arch-villain Lankesh ! He was even more subversively dastardly and charming than Dallas’s JR.

    12. Jai — on 10th September, 2008 at 10:03 am  

      A lot of Pakistani serials were also better than the saas-bahu variety…..that guy Humayun Saeed seems to have been in a lot of them.

      I can’t remember the name of the show, but back in 2000 there was a really good single-season Pakistani serial starring Humayun which focused on a Sindhi zamindar/landowner family; it was mainly to do with the charismatic, powerful, patriarchal (and ruthlessly corrupt) father — known as “Sai” — and the influence he had on his previously-noble son (played by Humayun), who became increasingly like his father as time went on. It was quite gripping stuff. And yes, as I’m writing this, it’s occurred to me that there were some parallels with The Godfather.

    13. Muhamad — on 10th September, 2008 at 11:35 am  

      I’ve no idea who you writing about, and I don’t care to find out, but it’s great writing. The thing that needs changing is “bharat junta”, it’s actually “bharatiya janata”. :-) OK?

    14. izmir matbaa — on 10th September, 2008 at 3:22 pm  

      thanks for sharing..

    15. Sunny — on 10th September, 2008 at 4:35 pm  

      Could you imagine an actress making the crossover from soaps to politics like that here in the UK?

      Maybe not in the UK, but does the name Ronald Reagan ring a bell??

    16. Sunny — on 10th September, 2008 at 4:36 pm  

      good article though! it could have been slightly shorter, and you could have expanded on your conclusion a teensy weensy bit.

    17. Desi Italiana — on 10th September, 2008 at 7:04 pm  

      “A lot of Pakistani serials were also better than the saas-bahu variety”

      Yeah, totally. We get GEO at my house, and sometimes someone puts it on. Pakistani soaps are completely sans the jewelry, huge psychadelic bindis, and talk about things other than saas-bahu. Though I find all of these soaps mind-numbing, if someone had forced me to choose Desi soaps with a loaded gun to my head, I’d pick Pakistani ones over Indian ones.

    18. Desi Italiana — on 10th September, 2008 at 7:05 pm  

      Muhamad [pbuy]:

      “I’ve no idea who you writing about, and I don’t care to find out”

      No, you should pay attention to their messages because EVERYONE and they mama watch them!!!!

    19. Amrit — on 10th September, 2008 at 8:00 pm  

      Wow, thank y’all for the positive comments. Ala, were you being sarcastic?

      I don’t think Ekta Kapoor has any sinister agenda - in fact, I posed that Q because I thought that maybe (not holding out hope!), she was actually trying a little to OPEN people’s eyes and discuss these issues. Although I agree with everyone who says she doesn’t seem that bright, it could be that her audience miss what she’s trying to do because it’s not sledgehammer-obvious. However, like I said, I’m not holding out hope.

      Nyrone, we talked about this already at the first PP meet-up and I totally agree with what you’re saying. There isn’t really a lot to do. However, I do still feel that a bit of subtlety could be brought in, and that soaps need to have more male villains too! A slightly more complex female character from time to time would be nice. Even those that start off interesting (i.e. Juhi Thakral pretending to be Tulsi Virani) end up always being motivated by money or spite, or both in the end.

      Lol @ Sunny, fair enough, but it seems to be much more common in India (the Bachchans in the ’80s, Hema Malini etc.). Maybe that’s just because of things like corruption, the huge exposure of audiences to stars and the fact that people then identify with them more…?

      I know it probably should’ve been shorter… sorry! I never intended for it to be on PP, and I didn’t really think Rumbold was going to put it up. Haha. It was more or less written for fun.

    20. sonia — on 10th September, 2008 at 9:53 pm  

      i am surprised by ala’s post at no. 3. too intellectual a post. hmm, yes, perhaps, if this was Cosmopolitan or Harper’s Bazaar or something.

      amrit has raised some very significant issues in this post, and its not that ‘intellectual’ to consider the link between the media we consume and our social norms. pretty bread and butter stuff really. and pretty interesting. if we’re not going to talk about that - what should we talk about? the thing about cinema being a mirror of a society is very interesting, and certainly entertaining if nothing else.

      for example bollywood speaks volumes about indian life, society and expectations, shows up our taboos if nothing else.

      like other individuals, ekta kapoor does what’s good for her. she’s has sussed what her audience wants and she gives it to them.

      amrit - good one

    21. sonia — on 10th September, 2008 at 10:05 pm  

      or rather, what is ‘too’ intellectual? or the use of the term intellectual - it seems to have a negative connotation/oh the masses won’t understand/kind of thing. especially in the journalisty sort of world. (ooh ratings will go down)

      quite an elitist view to have generally - #intellectuals# and the rest of them# . all the best pub discussions in the world are ‘intellectual’. i can’t see what’s strange about the use of the intellect unless the assumption is that some people don’t have one or something.

      of course story telling is the way to highlight a society’s story. and bollywood is very dramatic and a caricature. but it reflects the extremes of our society/schizophrenia of our society - rather well. so what i always found interesting is how bollywood highlights what i think is a pretty central tension to ‘our way of life’. Romance or family? romance or family. individual/group? everyone empathises with that - is the interesting thing - aunties grannies, all of them. the tension, this duty calling thing ( of course they think you should choose duty) . the way everyone is into the dramas, makes you realise that its closer to the surface than we think, this denial of our emotions/recognition of the ’sacrifice’ for our destinies./etc. all the stuff society tries to not talk about.

      but films are portraying all that, so i find it very interesting.

    22. sonia — on 10th September, 2008 at 10:08 pm  

      now we should get talking about the portrayals of women in bangla cinema, now that will be interesting! what with all the rape scenes and all.

    23. Desi Italiana — on 10th September, 2008 at 10:55 pm  

      Sonia:

      “or rather, what is ‘too’ intellectual?”

      Apparently, a blog which is thoughtfully written. And even if we don’t agree with some of the arguments, at least we know that the blogger took some time to think about her take on things. I guess that is ‘too intellectual’.

    24. Desi Italiana — on 10th September, 2008 at 10:57 pm  

      I personally like this post, at least it hasn’t beaten a dead horse and regurgitated themes we’ve been through a billion times.

      Amrit, you keep writing. You go, you.

    25. Jai — on 11th September, 2008 at 4:50 pm  

      Some of you know a disturbing level of detail about these soaps — character names, plot developments etc etc. Hmmmm….

      “Oh no, I don’t watch these shows…..my mother watches it, and I, er, um, just happen to be in the room at the time, ahem”.

      Yeahhh, suuuuuuure……

      (just joking).

      **********************

      I’d like to add a small caveat or amendment to some of the observations a few commenters have made about Ms Kapoor’s intelligence, or alleged lack of it. I don’t think the latter’s necessarily the case; she’s obviously been smart enough to be able to successfully identify and tap into the preferences of her shows’ audience and gear the content and format accordingly (and, in her numerous interviews, many of you will have seen her fast-talking indignant attempts to deflect criticism of her serials and her supposed motivations for making them).

      However, I think the key point is that she’s bright but not necessarily very intellectual (the two aren’t always synonymous), and this aspect of her personality not only comes across in her interviews but is also strongly reflected in the style and content of her serials. The latter, as we all know, aren’t necessarily particularly sophisticated or subtle.

      In fact, I’ll tell you what I think her serials really remind me of. Remember all those mid/low-budget social melodramas that Bollywood produced during the 80s — I’m not talking about Amitabh-style blockbusters or even the “art house” stuff starring Naseeruddin Shah, Smita Patil etc, but the really inflammatory, frequently sanctimonious and emotionally-blackmailing movies starring actors like Raj Babbar, Jeetendra (hmm, coincidence ?) and so on, complete with OTT emotions, lots of psychological scheming and jarring background music. Quite trashy stuff.

      Ms Kapoor’s serials are exactly like modern-day small-screen versions of those films, albeit with much more expensive and extravagent sets, big budgets, more jewellery and (yeah I’ll say it) hotter women.

      *********************

      Incidentally, wasn’t there some medical survey in India two or three years ago which found out that saas-bahu serials should not be watched by children, as the extreme social/familial behaviours depicted (and jarring/inflammatory style of the production/direction) risked causing psychiatric problems ?

    26. Rumbold — on 11th September, 2008 at 8:36 pm  

      Slightly different, but this was also amusing:

      http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/cyber-sutra-indias-online-eroticism-925593.html

    27. sarah — on 12th September, 2008 at 1:10 am  

      Soaps meet Sociology. Brilliant.

    28. Amrit — on 12th September, 2008 at 1:25 am  

      Sonia & Desi - thanks for the encouragement.

      Rumbold - thanks for that. It was really interesting!

      ‘Bhabhi is Hindi for sister-in-law, and in northern India in particular there is a long tradition in popular culture of flirtation between a man and his elder brother’s wife.’

      I KNEW Indians were obsessed with incest, man! Is it the fear of it? Maybe it’s just the fact that so many marriages are arranged, and therefore people end up with the wrong person? Maybe it’s a Freudian thing? Or maybe I’m basing this on the time that I went to an Internet cafe in Chandigarh, and accidentally discovered that the previous user had been looking at an incest porn site.

      I can’t help thinking this says a lot about the status of women in India, where despite the pretence of reverence of your female relatives as pure and whatnot, even your female relatives are apparently fair game.

      Or maybe I just need to get myself to bed.

      ‘… modern India remains a country seemingly ill at ease with sex and relationships.’

      As do supposedly ‘modern’ Indians who have been living outside of the Motherland for several years!

    29. Sofi — on 12th September, 2008 at 10:34 am  

      wow. can i/smeone write a guest post on the Canadian sitcom Little Mosque on the Prairie?

    30. Sikander Hayat — on 12th September, 2008 at 10:42 am  

      I KNEW Indians were obsessed with incest, man!

      No, you misunderstand. It is a joke.

      even your female relatives are apparently fair game.

      In Muslim communities perhaps, but not any others. Again, you miss the jocular nature of the ‘bhabi’ thing.

      As do supposedly ‘modern’ Indians who have been living outside of the Motherland for several years!

      If by ‘ill at ease’ you mean they have different values attached to sex and sexual relationships (ie, less liberal), what exactly is your problem with that?

      Has it occurred to you that not everyone sees shagging around as a marker of a great society?

    31. Jai — on 12th September, 2008 at 11:19 am  

      If by ‘ill at ease’ you mean they have different values attached to sex and sexual relationships (ie, less liberal), what exactly is your problem with that?

      It becomes a problem when you can’t enjoy a civilised evening with a nice selection of brunettes borrowed from your local gentlemen’s establishment and videotape the event for posterity without simultaneously having to worry about some nosey relative subsequently stumbling across your stash of carefully-archived .wmv and .mpeg files and blowing your cover.

      And then forcing you to either get married to some homely girl from Bhatinda in order to “bring you back into line” or, indeed, some vindictive auntie actually mentioning the incident during your freaking wedding reception, goddammit.

      Has it occurred to you that not everyone sees shagging around as a marker of a great society?

      Valid point, but taking matters to an unhealthily and unnaturally conservative extreme in the interests of stubbornly adhering to some obsolete and potentially mythical version of “culture” isn’t a great idea either, especially if it involves a lot of hypocrisy and denial, and most of all if you’re not even living in the “motherland” at all.

      Which, incidentally, does tie in nicely with Amrit’s comments in the main article regarding the “Madonna/whore breakdown”.

    32. Blood Orange — on 12th September, 2008 at 11:54 am  

      having to worry about some nosey relative subsequently stumbling across your stash of carefully-archived .wmv and .mpeg files and blowing your cover.

      This is invasion of privacy, a seperate matter from having less liberal values.

      And then forcing you to either get married to some homely girl from Bhatinda

      Again, this is forced marriage, not what I was referring to.

      You appear to have taken the leap from less liberal values re sex to forced marriage, invasion of privacy and mythical versions of culture when no such suggestion was made.

      You make the point that you are taking it to the conservative extreme, but most people aren’t ‘extreme’ and are moderates, (as this blog so frequently says in reference to Muslims).

      Which, incidentally, does tie in nicely with Amrit’s comments in the main article regarding the “Madonna/whore breakdown”.

      It wasn’t incidental Jai.

    33. Jai — on 12th September, 2008 at 12:11 pm  

      This is invasion of privacy, a seperate matter from having less liberal values.

      Again, this is forced marriage, not what I was referring to.

      You appear to have taken the leap from less liberal values re sex to forced marriage, invasion of privacy and mythical versions of culture when no such suggestion was made.

      To quote our esteemed friend Sikandar Hayat in comment #30, “It was a joke” ;)

      There were no lapdancing brunettes etc.

      They were blondes.

      Okay I’m still kidding !

      most people aren’t ‘extreme’ and are moderates,

      Correct, but what’s moderate in one location/environment/culture isn’t necessary moderate (or, possibly, even appropriate) in another location/environment/culture. Or decade/century/etc.

      “It’s all relative”, as an old and much-missed friend of mine used to frequently say.

      Once upon a time, even people in dear old Blighty would drop their parasols in shock and faint in a “fit of the vapours” at the merest glimpse of a well-turned ankle. Those scandalous Jezebels.

    34. Blood Orange — on 12th September, 2008 at 12:47 pm  

      what’s moderate in one location/environment/culture isn’t necessary moderate (or, possibly, even appropriate) in another location/environment/culture. Or decade/century/etc.

      Exactly, so why does Amrit, from a position of a fully Westernised/assimilated female, feel the need to pontificate to a culture/location/environment/ that has nothing to do with her?

      She may feel that this transmutes to affect her, but there are laws in this country that will protect her from ‘forced marriage/invasion of privacy’ etc. So her point is redundant generally and is only applicable to that brand of stupid woman who bows to the whim of their parents/cultures etc.

    35. Amrit — on 12th September, 2008 at 1:06 pm  

      ‘Exactly, so why does Amrit, from a position of a fully Westernised/assimilated female, feel the need to pontificate to a culture/location/environment/ that has nothing to do with her?’

      Clearly, Mr. Hayat or Blood Orange or whatever your name is, you didn’t pay attention. That doesn’t shock me too much somehow.

      The reason it matters is because, as Jai tried to point out to you already, it DOES affect people living in this country. It also affects Indian women who get married and come over here.

      How much is debatable, but as someone who has seen its effects firsthand, I was moved to write this. And that’s all you’re going to get from me.

    36. Blood Orange — on 12th September, 2008 at 1:12 pm  

      The reason it matters is because

      Nowhere did I say that it doesn’t matter.

      DOES affect people living in this country.

      So does Samantha from Sex in the City, so what?

      It also affects Indian women who get married and come over here.

      Qualify this statement.

      . And that’s all you’re going to get from me.

      I shall take your silence as a surrender.

    37. Amrit — on 12th September, 2008 at 4:52 pm  

      Surrender?

      *snickers*.

      This is the Internet. If I smell troll, I’m not going to waste my time. Sorry!

    38. Shamit — on 12th September, 2008 at 7:07 pm  

      Has it occurred to you that not everyone sees shagging around as a marker of a great society?

      @ Sikander -I dont understand..

      I would judge it by very different criteria such as basic health care, education and opportunities, social safety net. Not on whether you have a more liberal views on sex or not.

      So, unless you are thinking with your frustrated libido — no one in their right mind judges a society based on sex.

      I also like Bloody Orange’s rant about:

      “but there are laws in this country that will protect her from ‘forced marriage/invasion of privacy’ etc”

      forced marriages in Asian families - has happened in the past — and has ruined quite a few lives.

      “Honour killings” which has nothing do with Honour does take place where fathers or brothers have taken the lives of their loved ones

      Abuse of women who got married and have come over here — that story is unfortunately quite common.

      No these are all figments of our imagination — We all surrender to your astounding ignorace.. for you clearly Ignorance is Bliss.

    39. asd — on 23rd December, 2008 at 5:26 am  

      mother killing son is very strange in the world but it is popular in india. ekta and her mother like to that idea. psychology of ekta’s male hating films is charging compensation of womb
      tulsi kills son representing male kind

    40. persephone — on 27th January, 2009 at 11:09 am  

      A good, considered article Amrit. I am glad you did provide the detail as I don’t watch these dramas (honestly). Its a shame that the content, cultural stance & plots have not changed for the better in so many years.

      As to Ekta Kapoor’s agenda, would suggest it is to acquire more wealth by producing ever more dramas in like vein to meet a demand for them.

      Thats where I see the real question - what are the drivers behind so many people watching these dramas.

      Is it cathartic? Do the Madonna’s who watch it feel vindicated? Do the Auntiji’s feel it endorses their view of what is culturally right - certainly it does not challenge their viewpoint so must be great comfort viewing.

      And the other stated reason why adults frequently watch asian TV is to show children the asian culture - worrying because some children must ’swallow’ the culture whole as I don’t think the adults differentiate (to children) b/n what aspects of the culture are negative or positive.

      After all, when they switch over to ‘western’ programming that shows a different picture of the world which would shatter a few allusions and enable the real world to dent their self imposed ‘cultural’ bubble.

    41. INDRANI SINGH — on 22nd March, 2009 at 7:10 am  

      HI,MY NAME IS INDRANI SINGH.IM FROM KOLKATA.I M DOING ACTING.MEM I WANT 2 WORK WITH U.PLEASE GIVE ME CHANCE.

    42. INDRANI SINGH — on 22nd March, 2009 at 7:13 am  

      HI,

    43. kajjal — on 2nd May, 2009 at 12:37 pm  

      Thanxx for making the best seral kis desh mein hai mera dil and kitni mohhobat hai

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