Sunday, September 14, 2014

D-I-Y Indian TV Soap Kit !!

Of late I have been thinking about the patterns that repeat themselves endlessly like a broken record. In this post I have tried to analyze Indian TV Soaps (Hindi), their characters and what messages they actually give out, directly and indirectly.

So, ITVS can also be created if you want one! Like LEGO blocks, we can use the ‘Do-It-Yourself TV Serial Kit’ presented below to create the structure and then waste our time in filling details. These blocks are basically characters, themes, situations and endings that will help you weave a serial. Let’s begin!

Block 1- The Girl (Protagonist 1)

1.       Type 1- The girl next door.
  • Is always praised for her extraordinary beauty (she is very average btw).
  • Belongs to a lower-middle class family with everything gone wrong- a drunkard father, an evil landlord, a gambler brother, a sister who gets pregnant before marriage and a brooding mother who spends time praying, cooking or stitching old rags.
  • Is the sole earning member and still manages to look as if straight out of the spa that Kareena and Madhuri frequent!
  • She is the moral police of not only her own family but of her entire mohalla/chawl.
  • She works during the days and at nights, bores moon, wind, sky or her God’s idol to death, blabbering about her ‘sapnon-ka-rajkumar’!
  • Is endowed with all the possible virtues.
  • She wears stylish salwar-suits of latest designs even if her family has to line up for free food.

2.  Type 2 - A rich brat who races on busy roads half-drunk, visits gyms, clubs and takes pleasure in dictating her servants and creating scenes in parties. She has busy parents who do not pay her much attention.

3.   Type 3- She is a timid and non-working middle class girl who has grown up with a single goal in mind- marriage. Interestingly, she always stares at the floor and blushes without apparent reasons.
4.   The girl is always a graduate. Nothing is shown about her academic life.

Block 2- The Boy (Protagonist 2)

1.     Type 1- He is rich brat who has just returned with a foreign MBA degree and is all set to skyrocket his father’s empire.
  • Belongs to a combined business family with same-aged cousins, docked-up aunts and men who discuss only office work at home.
  • Is smart, arrogant, heartthrob, a great driver and classy but alone and desperate but still frowns upon relationships and romance.
  • He has refused many good matches from high-profile families for some unknown reason despite tired of being single.

Type 2- He is the male version of type 1 protagonist of block 1.
  • He is usually unemployed himself but fights for the rights of everyone from street vendor to a beggar child and is seen hunting for job in casual clothes.
  • He works as a mechanic, salesman or a right hand to a bigwig.
  • He is full of manliness, love for his mother and all imaginable virtues.
  • He lectures everyone against domestic violence, corruption, drinking, smoking and blah blah blah..!

Type 3- He is a middle class boy who has no dialogues in the opening episodes. He spends his time in collecting aashirvaads of all the elderly he can spot, helping the blind cross the roads, saving stray pups from rain and making random street kids laugh.

Block 3- Their Meeting

1.     Type 1- Office
  • The girl works/joins the office of the boy and they fight over everything and even pass the Sundays cursing each other.
  • The girl works as a personal secretary, sales girl or as a staff member but is a loudmouth and gives the boy (her boss) a good dressing down and a lecture on Indian-ness and sanskaars, every time he asks her to work.
  • They are the only ones who are available to go for a business deal to another city but find there is only one hotel room free! Where the f*** are advance bookings??
  • They stray and come across a well furnished home, opened and abandoned and spend night giving each other strange glances. Mobile batteries and signals mysteriously fail in such times.
  • Or, the boy spots her in a temple where she prays frantically for an hour daily for a husband or a single goddamned clue about her sapnon-ka-rajkumar.

2.     Type 2- Rescue
  • The type 2 boy is hit by the type 2 girl that is followed by a brawl followed by true love!
  • The type 2 girl is rescued by the boy (he goes there to deliver something) when she is being harassed (before she could be raped) by some rich brats in a club or party.

3.     Type 3- Suicide
  • The type 3 girl is depressed over a broken engagement (usually because of dowry issues) and is all set to kill herself but gets hit by the boy’s  car or is saved from drowning and then spends a good 15 minutes in his arms, ogling hungrily at his six packs.

Block 4 -Mothers

1.     Type 1-The boy’s mother is a rich b***h.
  • She spends more time playing cards and in kitty parties than at home is also the epitome of snobbery.
  • She looks like his elder sister and/or like a living jewelry exhibition.
  • They address each other like college friends.

2.     Type 2- She is really homely but evil can come in any form.
  • She makes the life of her bahus miserable.
  • Coaches her unmarried daughter to trap a rich boy.
  • Brain-washes her son against everyone.

3.     Type 3- She is a cancer patient or waist-down-paralyzed.
  •  Her last wish is to see her bahu and eat kheer made by her.
  •  However, she miraculously recovers after bahu does her seva, leaving the doctors as well as the viewers perplexed!

4.  The girl’s mother comes in only one type - she is a tired, timid and extra-sanskaari woman who is forever shuttling between siddhivinayak and home in cheap cotton saris and certainly a mangalsutra. She is unnaturally kind and makes the boy feel the love behind maa-ke-haath-ka-khaana when he comes to pick her daughter up for a date. This is true 99 % of the time; you can add more variations.

Block 5- Fathers

1.  Type 1- Girl’s father is an upright professor or government servant.
  • He is, at some point, framed for corruption.
  • He is totally against bribes.
  • He does puja regularly.
  • He is later saved by his daughter.

2.  Type 2- He is a drunkard but good at heart! He drinks day and night because of a tragedy he suffered decades back and is saved by his daughter.

3. Boy’s father is either a stinking rich businessman who is uninterested in his or anyone else’s family life or he is a retired man who reads newspapers the whole day in a corner and takes a break only when bahu serves him tea with utmost servility.

Karva Chauth in progression

Block 6- Themes and Frames
  • They fall in love and one fine day arrive wearing garlands at boy’s doorstep.
  • The families are against and the girl is taunted for everything- her family, no dowry, her cunning and manipulation.
  • The girl or boy, whosoever is poor, is lured by a blank cheque to get the hell out from the life of his/her partner by that partner’s rich father. No points for guessing, he/she tears the cheque apart and dashes out of the room.
  • They spend half of their energy and time to bring delinquent siblings on right track.
  • The wimpy boy who disappears after leaving the girl’s sister with a baby-bump is pulled out from his hiding and is made to marry the pregnant sister in a temple- all alone by the protagonist.
  • There are only two major festivals- Holi where romance and weird confessions happen in a drunken state and Karva Chauth where ladies dress themselves in whatever glitter they can lay their hands on. 
  • Issues have strange issues- babies are swapped, born half-dead, stolen, unaccepted, doubted or lost but everything is set straight after maa begs before God in her ‘jholi-faila-ke’ style.
  • Bhabhis only taunt and do make-up.
  • Kids are always seen sketching something in the background.
  • Domestic helps have unquestionable loyalty.
  • The truth that the boy has a second wife/concubine/ girlfriend emerges only on Karva chauth night.
  • The girl adopts his illegitimate child with much love.
  • The bahus always lock horns for ‘tijori-ki-chaabiyaan’
  • The girl can jump any queue esp. the temple ones.
  • She can bring anyone to the moral path just by giving one lecture.
  • The girl cooks and does puja-path to impress her snobbish saasu instead of talking a way out.

  • Businesses are ruined overnight and the very next day, the mansion is up for auction.
  • Protagonists always have their identicals or lost twins who arrive all of a sudden after their marriage.
  • There is always a temple in the hospitals where the girl throws herself (literally!) and cries or even threatens God and inside the Cardiac-line begins to jump and the machine just beeps and beeps leaving the doctors amazed!
  • There is only one coffee-shop, one movie hall, one mall, one eatery, one bar, one school, one college, one temple, one police station and one subzi-mandi in the entire city where the characters keep bumping into or end up spying each other.
  • The caged parrot ‘mitthu miyaan’ to which the girl does her ‘dil-ki-baat’ is only for a few episodes for he dies of boredom shortly!

Block 7- Endings
Just like ‘main samay hoon’ of Mahabharat and Paro’s ever burning diya from Devdas, Indian TV soaps are as perpetual as time itself and run from Qayamat se qayamat tak! So, there are only time leaps but no endings.

Some Issues- On a Serious Note

  • A woman is considered a poor mother if she has a life of her own and a circle of friends. She is frowned upon if she does not cook or does puja all day.
  • The mother-in-law always prays for or demands a grandson and never a granddaughter.
  • Not wearing sindoor or mangalsutras are big issues
  • Women who are doubted upon are frequently slapped by their husbands to bring them on ‘moral’ path.
  • Most protagonists are okay with domestic violence.
  • A delinquent girl is divorced or kicked out but her husband who fathers many illegitimate kids just utters one apology and is back.
  • Women are forced to accept illegitimate kids.
  • A club hopping woman is perceived as a slut and a man-eater.
  • Dream-interpretations, nonsensical hawans and strange superstitions are encouraged.
  • Women leave homes only when they are beaten and harassed to extreme.
  • Parents send them back like an unwanted parcel, after a lecture on patience and virtues.
  • The type 2 girl (rich brat) is forced to be a typical Bhartiya dharampatni and is dragged into mundane household job by her husband- it is, shockingly, a happy ending.
  • Women are slapped and excoriated openly, even in front of their own children- very usual and normal.
  • Despite coming from extremely sanskaari families, men have many liaisons and affairs.
  • The ‘other woman’ (usually a model or an actress) is publicly slapped and disgraced for trapping the innocent protagonist but no one questions the man.
  • The girl obliges whenever the boy is in a romantic mood.
  • The more taunts and insults she bears silently, the more worthy and homely she is considered.
  • The girl’s family behaves like servants in front of her in-laws.
  • Most protagonists become full-time housewives after marriage and are shown asking the boy for money and giving a complete hisaab to him or his dictator mother.
  • Random peer-babas foretell about the tempests about to arrive. Extinguished puja Deeyas always mean a death in a family and they give women enough reasons to shed non-stop tears.

(In the above scene, the illiterate girl Gopi is raped by her husband Ahem on Holi as he is high on bhaang. This nothing but marital rape)

I wonder how we are presenting women through these serials. I agree that the times and the trends are changing and many TV shows have strong women protagonists who are shown going against the flow but after a few power-packed episodes these themes do emerge and the entire show becomes a usual drag. I think it is high time to experiment with new concepts and ideas, to look beyond the horizon and think outside the box. 


This Cute Pic is taken from- ibjennyjennyanimalphotography.blogspot.in


  1. I have never seen an Indian soap but it was pretty interesting reading this. Great observations. And of course the cat is adorable. Have a good week!

  2. Hi Katrin

    haha! lucky youuu! ;D

    Thanks, I am glad you enjoyed this take!
    yes, very cute! thanks and same to you :)

  3. I have never seen a Hindi movie or serial, But what you described is very similar to the Tamil serials. Very thorough.

    1. Hi SG

      Is it! then Tamil TV soaps too are just as hopeless! lol

  4. hilarious article.. but it does show that our hindi serials neither show the reality of society nor something that can lead to betterment of society..

    1. Hi Megha

      Thanks! exactly, these serials are hopeless.

  5. Wohoooo... I totally agree...
    Also... Women are either very good or very bad...
    Rich or poor everyone looks like a celebrity...

    Waiting for the times to change...

    1. Hi Locomente

      Thanks a ton! yes, people and their behaviors are in extremes! me too!

  6. Ekta Kapoor may be approaching you soon :p

  7. Makeups and fake eyelashes are for villians and no makeup or little makeup means SATI SAVITRI.
    I have given up on serials.
    Like Amrit said, EKTA Kapoor is looking for u :P

  8. Hi Red

    Exactly, every character is stereotyped..sick!


  9. Hi Ankita! Nice and funny!
    I can't stand Indian daily soap. They simply run...with a target of at x years and without any story and creativity. Recently, I've seen some Pakistani Dramas on Zindagi Channel and I must say they are very crisp, balanced and realistic and have concrete stories. The actors are so natural! And at least they have proper final episodes (Just 25-27)...:)

    1. Hi Tarang

      Thanks a lot!

      Exactly, they are never ending and very illogical. That is nice- 25-30 episode concept is just perfect!

  10. I wish I could have the clothes that are worn by these actors no matter where they been or what they do .. th eclothes are always imaculate :)

    and here I run after someone for half a mile and my shirt and trousers are all wrinkled and need a washing if I fall down on ground with them ..


    1. Hi Bikram

      hahah! they are really too gaudy and very glittery but yes! their clothes are always new and immaculate!