ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Daily Soaps and Their (Dis)Contents

Soap opera viewing is as much an act of pleasure as it is an act of resistance.

What are some of the terms that come to mind when one thinks of Hindi soap operas? From “mindless,” to “trash,” to “regressive,” a choice variety of jibes is frequently tossed at the genre. Social media has soap opera memes galore with situation-appropriate quotes, GIFs, and screenshots. Who can forget Saath Nibhana Saathiya’s Gopi Bahu determinedly scrubbing her husband’s laptop with soap and water? Or Pari’s exaggerated attempt to pirouette and strangle herself with a curtain after being slapped by Mata ji in Sasural Simar Ka? The virality of these images and videos signifies cultural moments in their own right, bringing together netizens to relish and share the joys of soap-opera shaming.

What did soap operas do to deserve this ignominy? Setting aside asinine plot points, contemporary Hindi soap operas mostly—if not always—famously rely on an unhealthy mix of heteronormative patriarchal gender roles, Hindu Savarna ideology, atavistic mythological symbolism, misogyny,
colourism, and superstition—a laundry list of objectionable details. There is no denying the problematic nature of the genre or the rightful censure against it. But equally undeniable is its popularity. With more than 70% of television viewership in India credited to general entertainment channels (GECs)—think Star Plus, Colors, Sony TV—there remains a gaping schism between the targeted audience for Hindi soap operas and the criticism levied on the entertainment format. When there exists such cause for (fitting) discontent, who is watching them, and why?

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Updated On : 20th Feb, 2021
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