Very few families today, at least in cities, are joint families. Yet, all soaps involve huge family trees. The cast was set in the 80s’ Humlog serial and it has not changed since then. In the 80s, I watched Humlog and many other Hindi soaps on Doordarshan. DD had good quality control and the serials were really good fare. I learned to understand and speak Hindi thanks to these serials. In the early 90s, things changed a bit with the introduction of cable TV. Even then Doordarshan managed to lead the way. I used to watch Swabhiman or some serial which was written by Shobha De and the cast was led by Mandira Bedi. It was all about well dressed sluts with inch-thick makeup. It started getting on my nerves and I banned it at home. I would not let anyone watch it. However, I noticed that others in the neighbourhood had also started watching it. If I went out on a cycle during that show, I could hear the show’s signature background score coming out from every house. Why? It was just guiltless escapism. Like watching porn, it was the cleanest form of indulging in filthy and risque behaviour. I have long stopped watching TV serials (more than 15 years now) but I don’t think the formula has changed. Each soap has its own equation of joint families and friends and enemies scheming, plotting and griping over never-ending plot lines. But the common thread is sleeping around. That’s where the similarity with Savita Bhabi ends. You can’t win over Indian women with just that.
All Indian TV soaps are soaked in tankers full of glycerine-induced tears. No episode can be without extendend bouts of crying by both male and female actors, mostly its the latter because that’s the demographic that’s being targeted. Some crying sessions last several episodes. I once challenged that I would offer 1 lakh if there was an episode of Sthree (Asianet). The prize money was never claimed – not a single episode!
Some time ago, there was a news report where reporters asked some of the soap actresses on Star TV and ZEE about the amount of crying and they confirmed that all that glycerine was indeed taking a toll on their eyes.
Another thing that should not go unmentioned is that the bahus are always pretty as a doll. Male members aren’t going to sit through these crying fests unless sluts weren’t drool worthy. Media planners (ad agencies) ensure this.
This may not sit tight with the womenfolk and that is why the bahus are, despite the domineering presence of the omni-present and omni-potent evil saas, always smartly nay richly dressed. In films, they will be wearing tent cloth with holes covered by non-matching patches strung together by contrastingly coloured stitching thread.
Psychological programming is involved even in the dialogues. Most daughter-in-laws feel that their mother-in-laws don’t appreciate the “great sacrifices” they make every day. That is hen-pecked husbands confess this during prolonged hugging sessions.
NOTE: All of this came to me during a couple of troubleshooting sessions I had when I set up my Pinnacle TV tuner on my Linux box.