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Spewing venom on small screen

"I AM Nitya from "Nee, naan, aval"; I will not allow anyone from the Kumaraswamy or Thanikachalam family to be happy." Viewers often come across such dialogue in trailers of serials on TV, several times a day. Nitya is a young girl, perhaps in her twenties, who is shown constantly plotting against some female character or the other.

Then there is Kavya of "Kavyaanjali". The younger sister of Anjali, who was once so attached to her, is today her sworn enemy and her only aim in life is to see her sister suffer. The girls are married to brothers Arun and Varun. She even steals Anjali's baby and tells the world it is hers. Anjali knows the truth, but she does not reveal it to her family, as she wants to see Kavya happy. But what is the reason for Kavya's viciousness and hatred? Well, no one seems to know!

Many such villianous female characters rule the small screen today — young, attractive and evil. Their sole ambition is to destroy somebody's life, for which they will stoop to any level.

Take for example, Urvashi of "Nalavadu Mudichu". She has no respect for elders; has hoodlums at her beck and call to kill or maim anyone and wads of currency ready at hand. One wonders from where she gets all that money as she is not even shown to be rich or employed. She would know everything that goes on in her enemy's life. Then there is Kamakshi in "Ganga Gayatri", Vaishali in "Sriraman Sridevi"... there are many more — all in the same mould with minor variations. Often the reason for such deep-rooted hatred and animosity seems to be something like "my sister's sister-in-law's husband's friend's sister refused to marry my friend's brother many many years ago. So I will not allow her family to live in peace".

Spewing venom on small screen

Usha Subramaniam, Tamil story writer and documentary film-maker, says, "I do not know why some good writers, who have contributed sensitive stories for magazines, are writing like this." A sentiment echoed by many viewers. It is said that similar Hindi serials have had a negative impact on society. In a lighter vein, Usha points out that tiffs between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law have reduced as both are busy watching TV!

But one wonders whether they will pick up tips on the devious ways of harming each other.

It gave me a spooky feeling when I happened to watch one of the episodes of "Kadai alla nijam" compered by actress Lakshmi. It had some young men complaining about wives walking out on them for trivial reasons, filing for divorce and swearing to take revenge on the husbands or in-laws. One young man said that even though he had invited his wife to discuss the problems, she refused and filed a police complaint; she is also supposed to have said that she wanted to see them suffer. One elderly lady said over phone to Lakshmi that after several years of marriage her daughter-in-law walked out and filed a police complaint on charges of dowry harassment; she wanted to know why the police arrest the alleged perpetrators without any kind of enquiry to establish the truth. In a similar case an 80-year-old woman has been put in jail.

Spewing venom on small screen

Though such cases may not be the immediate fall-out of TV serials, there is every possibility that these serials give young women a cue; they may even make them feel that they are being bold and fighting for women's rights. Do we really need such villainous women for role models? These are promoted as family stories; but do we have such characters in our families at any level of society? One may see angelic characters like Anjali or Visu's eldest daughter Aswini in "Naalavadhu Mudichu", diametrically opposite to these villainous women. They put up with any kind of harrassment from parents-in-law, husband, colleagues; believes everyone is the essence of goodness; takes care never to let down the family pride; accepts all the blame for whatever goes wrong, never accusing anyone for it and in the process making the hardened viewer sit day after day in front of the TV to see if she would finally triumph after many unbelievable twists and turns, perhaps after some 350-400 episodes, if one is lucky, that is!

We neither need the vicious women nor the goody-goody characters. Perhaps there are too many serials and the writers tend to repeat ideas to meet deadlines. But let the ideas at least be reasonable.

LAKSHMI VENKATRAMAN

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