Primetime girls

Primetime girls

The oiled and thickly plaited hair,those big innocent eyes and the perennially martyred expression.

The sudden spate of shows about the girl child makes us believe that TV has a new magic formula

The oiled and thickly plaited hair,those big innocent eyes and the perennially martyred expression. After the retreat of the saas-bahu soaps,TV moguls have found a new breed of tearjerkers—the story of the girl child. It started with Balika Vadhu and the list right now is seemingly endless — Uttaran,Mere Ghar Aayi Ek Nanhi Pari,Na Aana Iss Des Lado,Agle Janam Mohe Bitiya hi Kijo,and Sabki Ladli Bebo.

While women have always been the active catalysts on TV shows,what is interesting this time round is that the focus is on the concept of the ladli bitiya or ‘darling daughter’. Going by the good response to these shows,it seems like the concept is a hit with audiences as well. Sudha Pisharoti,a school teacher,says that by focusing on the girl child,TV shows are doing what even education has not been able to do. “With a show like Balika Vadhu,everyone has woken up to the fact that child marriages are still taking place. While I usually don’t encourage TV viewing,in this case,I admit that it’s proved to be useful.”

Ratan Rajput,the protagonist of Agle Janam… echoes. “This new lot focuses on daughters and how important they are. The setting is usually rural,because people in


villages still tend to think that rich urban people can afford to have daughters,while impoverished villagers can’t. We’re trying to prove that a girl child can never be a curse and she can be as much a support to her parents as a boy.” Rajput says that a TV show is one of the best ways to raise social awareness since,“everyone,even in villages these days,watches TV”.

But Vivek Bahl,senior creative director,Star Plus,insists this isn’t a growing trend. “After the success of Balika Vadhu,people say that any show that has to do with girls is part of a trend. But the fact is that we wanted to do a show with positive vibes like Sabki Ladli,about a girl who’s the darling of her family. In fact,the girl later finds out that she’s adopted and we show that adoption,especially of girls,is not a bad thing at all. So there’s a social message as well,” he explains. Bahl says that the reason such shows are a hit is because of the positive vibes they exude. “People are tired of villains and evil plots and negativity. That is why they’re responding well to these new shows,which instead focus on less dramatic subjects and which have social messages at their core.”

Some viewers,however,are not fans of the new shows. Joanita D’Souza,an avid TV viewer,says that she started watching them for their novelty factor. “But most of these shows,especially the ones with young girls,resort to very cheap tactics —like showing them being beaten up —to tug at our heartstrings. And the characters don’t evolve logically. A 12-year-old will continue to behave like a seven-year-old,just to maintain the ‘cute’ factor. And I don’t think it’s about social messages — it’s only about making money. Otherwise why would reality shows still be on?”