Lectures have started in full swing and till now it has been very enjoyable, what with us studying Film and Pop Culture. Both are very interesting but I might show a slight leaning towards Pop Culture as it deals with (as the name suggests) what is popular with the public. It also deals with the mentality of society and therefore their likings and dis likings. It also deals with my favourite topic - stereotypes!
Pop Culture talks about how our advertisements and films have put things in our minds which we start believing without questioning. For instance, our films and especially our TV soaps put into our minds the status that should be accorded to women, which most of the times is digressive and backward.
But I was very happy to find out that this is changing a bit at least on TV. There's this new soap running on Sony - Ladies Special. There was this particular scene that they showed yesterday on the soap which ran into today's episode too. I'll now tell you in short what the scene was about.
The mother is with her daughter waiting on the platform for the train to arrive. The daughter is wearing a top and skirt. Some hooligans start teasing her with one even going to the extent of bending down to see under the skirt. The mom notices this and starts hollering but no one comes forward to help her. She tries to get the police who reluctantly comes with her. During this time all the hooligans have run away and even the eye witnesses deny seeing anyone or anything happening. The havaldar too says that one usually can't do anything about such things. (Talk about realistic situations!)
Anyway the next day, the mother decides to take her daughter for shopping again! (Ok, this was one stereotype that took place in the soap. How come all girls like shopping?) The daughter wears a full length kurta that covers her legs entirely. Her mom replies by asking why has she not worn her favourite clothes and the daughter gives the reason that after what happened the previous day she wanted to avoid an encore. But her mom tells her something that I'll remember for ages to come: No one can teach us or tell us what is right or what is wrong. And then she explained to her that giving away your identity just for some stupid idiots, was foolish. For once a girl in our Indian soaps wasn't criticised for wearing Western clothes. Not surprisingly, this soap isn't a K serial!
This soap can herald about a change in society because as Pop Culture shows, society always tends to follow whatever happens in soaps or films or books. I also think that this is a fitting reply to the stupidity that took place a few days back in Madhya Pradesh where a college banned girls from wearing T-shirts and jeans because they thought that it will help in curbing harassment. What I don't understand is, why don't they do something to stop boys from harassing the girls rather than placing restrictions upon the girls?
And as for the sari, burqa or salwar kameez being more protective against ill-mannered elements in society, the argument doesn't carry weight. Most of the girls who get molested or raped are most of the time wearing the Indian clothes I've mentioned above rather than the Western imports. And anyway a man hell-bent on raping a lady will do so irrespective of whether she's covered from head-to-toe or wearing a swimsuit.
I'm obviously pleased to see soaps like this. Hopefully our K serials will also learn something and show something wiser the next time. I know its difficult to do away with stereotypes but an effort can always be made to erase the marks left on society by these 4th century BC beliefs.