Are female protagonists actually strong' on small screen?
Shruti Jambhekar,TNN | Mar 8, 2015, 12.00AM IST
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If you go by the sheer number factor, then women viewers win it hands down so far as curling up on the couch and watching frothy soaps is concerned. Drooling over stories of love, betrayal, revenge, kitchen politics and aspirations comes easily to them.
Many might say that with the changing India, the landscape of the small screen is also changing. And there will be always smattering of strong female protagonists like Anjali (Shamata Anchan) in Everest, Ragini (Pallavi Kulkarni) in Itna Karo Na Mujhe Pyaar, Urmi (Neha Marda) in Doli Armanon Ki, Anandi (Toral Rasputra) in Balika Vadhu, Sanyukta (Harshita Gaur) in Sadda Haq - My Life, My Choice, Sandhya (Deepika Singh) in Diya Aur Baati Hum and many more. But does that paint an all 'flying high' avtaar of female protagonists?
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Do they tell a story of modern, liberal outlook? Scratch the surface, the mask of strong, independent women having a reign over their own lives falls off. In most of these daily soaps, two points are fundamental - either the shows are set in traditional background or even if it is about urban family - the male protagonist is equally strong to take the show forward.
We ask the makers on why don't the shows where women are strong, independent garner good TRPs? Rajan Shahi, producer, says, "I am proud to be a part of an industry where women are making an equal mark as men - be it in terms of being in front of the camera or behind the camera. Although, when it comes to storylines of daily soaps, majority of viewers can't digest the fact that women can be independent and live a life of their own." He adds, "I personally believe while putting up the story content that if behind a man's success there's a woman - then there has to be a man behind a successful woman - he could be the husband/lover or even father!"
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Producer Yash Patnaik says, "All TV shows barring few thrillers have strong female protagonists. In fact, this has been the reason of agony for most male actors. Shows like Diya Aur Baati Hum, Saathiya, Balika Vadhu, Sadda Haq, Veera and others have strong female protagonists. As far as the men are concerned, they support the women characters. But the focus of Indian fiction television has always been women."
And what do actresses who play the lead role in the shows feel about this issue? Do they think strong and independent women images on small screen always need a strong male counterpart in daily soaps? To this, Tina Dutta says, "Not always. If a woman is strong and independent, she can fight her own battles. On TV, drama rules and that's the reality." Whereas actor Adaa Khan feels more on equality grounds, "TV women protagonists are strong but male counterparts are needed to spice up the drama. Without men, women are not complete and vice versa and the story doesn't move forward if the conflict element is missing."