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In the yesteryears on TV we would see the 'pious' wife fasting for the unfaithful husband who was in the company of 'the other woman'. He would forget anniversaries and Karva Chauth only to return home late at night and mistreat his wife. The wife was expected to tolerate the abuse and go on forgiving the infidel husband.
However over the years things have become far less regressive on TV. In 2008, it was refreshing when we watched the promo of Jaane Kya Baat Hui on Colors in which the protagonist Aradhana (essayed by Sweta Tiwari) indignantly said that society surely has double standards for letting off men lightly for the same offence for which they will harshly reprimand women. She was referring to infidelity in this case. The serial concluded with the unfaithful husband reforming himself and both being a happily married couple again. Though this ending went down well with viewers who are conditioned to prefer marriages finally working out; there were viewers who felt that in real life often the husband doesn't reform unlike what is depicted in shows.
In 2012, in Balika Vadhu on Colors we see Anandi all ready to marry Shiv whom she loves and respects. The writer Purnendu Shekhar however agrees that deep down she still has a soft corner for her former husband Jagya. He explains, "It is not easy for a traditional Indian woman to forget her first love, especially her childhood love." He however stands by the fact that what Jagya has done was very wrong. It has been a refreshing change to see Anandi with all her rationality choosing Shiv over Jagya. Siddharth Shukla who plays Shiv says, "A man shouldn't take a woman for granted as that's not the correct way of treating her. Anandi has realized her self-worth and will let no man walk over her self-respect." It's a very positive sign that the majority of india-forums.com viewers want to see Shiv and Anandi's story instead of Anandi and Jagya's story.
In Qubool Hai on Zee TV Dilshad essayed by Shalini Kapoor Sagar still has feelings for her former husband Rashid Ahmed Khan essayed by Vaquar Shaikh. It is but natural for a wife who after all shares two children with her former husband not to completely forget the father of her kids. It was indeed a somber moment when Dilshad mournfully tells her son Asad (essayed by Karan Singh Grover) that she is upset as she still doesn't know because of what 'mistake' her husband left her even after all these years. Nevertheless she keeps a dignified distance from her husband. Shalini explains, "She is very dignified lady, she takes the fact that her husband had left her with a pinch of salt. She has brought up her kids single-handedly really well. She wishes to maintain her self esteem and silence. There is a lot of resentment and pain in her."
It's a very progressive sign that on Indian television shows on remarriage are gaining popularity. Aakanksha Singh who plays Megha on Na Bole Tum Na Maine Kuch Kaha on Colors says, "It was initially difficult for Megha to move on after her dear husband Amar's death. Though she was realizing that she loved Mohan in fact as much as he loved her, she was in denial mode for a while." The happily married Megha and Mohan are now a favourite onscreen couple not only on india-forums.com but also in India.
In Kya Huaa Tera Vaada on Sony TV, the protagonist Mona (played by Mona Jaswir Singh) is engaged to Vinit (essayed by Darshan Pandya) yet having some feelings for her former husband Pradeep Singh (essayed by Pawan Shankar). Vinit however refuses to accept this leading to a distance brewing in their relationship. He doesn't even like it when Mona calls her former husband to discuss essential matters regarding their kids. Pawan Shankar explains, "In the Indian scenario women like Mona are the pillars of the family institution and so it is difficult to forget the bond." Will Mona finally go back to the same husband who had left her for another woman? Pawan replies, "The producer of the show can answer better. I doubt."
In Bade Acche Laggte Hai on Sony TV Ram Kapoor (essayed by Ram Kapoor) and Priya (essayed by Saakshi Tanwar) are still deeply in love. Yet Ram refuses to admit it as is often brusque with her. The green eyed monster in him is also instigated when Priya uses her maiden name Priya Sharma and is in the company of Rajat Kapoor. Priya however still isn't taking her relationship forward with Rajat as she prefers doing Karva Chauth for Ram. Priya's mother-in-law Krsihnaji also encouraged Priya to maintain a fast when Ram is yet to verbally express that he accepts her as his lawfully wedded wife. Samir Kochhar who plays Rajat on the show explains, "There is still an attachment between Ram and Priya which is why she kept the fast."
The most refreshing deviation from this on contemporary Indian TV is perhaps Dil se di dua.Saubhagyavati Bhava?. Sriti Jha who plays Sia/ Jahnavi told us, "Jahnavi finally walked out of an abusive marriage. When a husband has the habit of beating his wife regularly, this behavior pattern can't really be changed. It's important for the wife to walk out on him- that is exactly what we achieved on our show. This makes our show different from the rest as in other shows the wife often stays on in a marriage like this. When Jahnavi walked out of the marriage she got a new name Sia with which she also got a new identity. She also married Raghav. Even when Viraj (her former abusive husband) injected her with poison saying that he would give her the antidote only if she said that he loved her; she refused to do so and said that she loved Raghav and hated him."
In marriage vows you promise to love and honour your spouse till death do part. We conclude here that women on Indian TV should surely abide by this but only if their husbands also treat them with love and honour. If the husband treats the wife with cruelty and disrespect; it is no sin to walk out and get herself a partner she truly deserves. However if there has been mutual love and respect in the marriage like it had been in Sia and Raghav's marriage, it's romantic to be in love like Sia till you take your last breath.
Author and Reporter: Pallavi Bhattacharya and Krishma Solanki