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Guest Column

Idiot box, Moms & Daughters

Garima Pant from India wants to share her views about the effect of TV culture on youngsters with Womenlines readers-

I am full of gratitude to my dear friend (who own this platform) for asking me(read challenging…that’s how I feel with all the rusting that corporate job has done) to write something on womanhood or parenting. That was even more challenging…notwithstanding the fact that she and I had passionately created a journal on precisely this during college. Ironically I don’t get time to consciously think about womanhood and parenting I have yet to experience! Nonetheless, all of my friend’s prompting has shaken my writer self and thoughts started bouncing back and forth until this evening I had a chance glimpse of Star Pariwar awards.

Well, I must tell you that I have never been a TV person and of late, having idiot box to watch with dedication is increasingly becoming a challenge with just one TV between two persons (you know what I mean!). In any case, after watching this award programme, I must say that idiot box is not all that idiotic when it comes to fostering cultural stereotypes which are valued as integral virtues of Indian family set up. No matter what, you can neither deny that cultural stereotypes do play a role in identifying on ethics society one belongs. Now the Star Award category list was interesting with ‘Best beta’, ‘Best beti’ and so on. Even more interesting were the clips were shown for each nomination – as Indian as it could get! Would you still say that TV is spoiling the GenNext kids?? Not me… After catching glimpses of this extravaganza, I immediately recalled and recoiled to my trail of thoughts that had been lingering on since my very recent trip to Uttrakhand.

I had met my cousin there after a couple of years and she has almost completed her Company Secretary course and is contemplating a move to Delhi from Haridwar for an internship in a renowned MNC. She is an avid couch potato…that is another significant shift from the time I was a teen – girls (I am more thinking about them) are so particular and careful about what soaps they like and must watch. Unlike most girls of her age, her wardrobe is full of pretty salwar-kameez dresses, each one with its own story of creation. When I tried to offer to buy her a dress, I was amazed how particular she was about what colour combination, fabric and look she wanted for the very next dress she had to buy (a Mehandi green-maroon mangalgiri cotton with wide brocade). I was reminded of my days when I would have just six pairs of dresses that mom bought to last entire college years. That’s what I mean when I say idiot box isn’t all that idiot! Youngsters know what they want. While discussing her future, while she had ambitious plans for a career, she believed an arranged marriage is better than that of one’s choice…that is also what she imbibed from her favourite soaps on TV! If she could potentially represent her generation to any extent then I can make another interesting revelation. Their flights of fantasies about encountering ‘prince charming’ could be something ever-green and romantic like the scarf getting carried away with a breeze to someone’s arms. Wish I too qualified for one such fancy…So I would rather believe that diverse genre of teleseries ranging from family soaps and reality shows are doing some good (let us look at the glass as half-full) in shaping young minds.

That was on girls. I also feel that now moms have become so much more open, appreciative and ambitious about their daughters. Mothers, I believe have always seen the reflection of their unfulfilled or cherished dreams and desires in their girls but probably never felt they could do anything about it more than getting them the best possible match until recent times. With soaps like ‘Radha ki beti…’ and ‘Utran’ moms don’t seem to be missing the glory that having a son used to bring. Not only do they seem friends with daughter, they are anxious to see their girls bring laurels to them by excelling on the career front. Moms are lending daughters their ear, experience, and faith by having hearty chats and mature discussions – something that was pretty amiss in my time. My aunt (my cousin’s mom) knows for sure how her prospective son-in-law has to be. In lieu, moms are also enjoying more liberated and evolved company for themselves. My relations with my mom were quite formal and we hardly ever indulged in banters, at least not between just two of us. Not that my mom did not have dreams for me or would not have wanted to be different with me but then idiot box had not evolved so much. Nonetheless, my mom too is an avid couch potato and I am assuming the goodness of idiot box will flow unto me no matter a little late.

Garima Pant


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