Saas-Bahu Conflicts: A daily soap recently woke me up. It wasn’t a literal slumber, but a metaphorical one, triggered by the misconception that daily soaps break down barriers. I saw a mother-in-law who represents a modern day MIL beat her daughter-in-law.
I was shocked at the intensity of the scene and how it was portrayed without any disclaimer. I mention the disclaimer because I’ve seen many daily soaps that have a small disclaimer posted while depicting violence against women and saying that they do not support such actions. Was the mother-in-law’s violence acceptable then? Was it okay for a MIL to hit or molest her daughter-in-law even if she was the “vampoman” in the house?
Saas Bahu Conflicts in Daily Soaps and How They Affect Real Life
I think daily soaps have portrayed the Saas Bahu drama since its inception. Yes, these shows are inspired by reality and show what is happening in many Indian families. But at a time when we are working hard to achieve equality in our homes, workplaces, and streets, is it okay for daily soaps to stick to the old Saas-Bahu drama without being critical? Do we understand the effects these depictions can have in real life?
The role of the daily soaps, which is part of the lives of millions of women, goes far beyond the portrayal of a “fictional” story. Women watch, talk, cry and laugh. There is a process of catharsis that ends with comparing your own life to the characters in the daily soaps. Imagine a woman comparing herself to the daughter-in-law on TV who is met by her MIL. Will she not normalize the violence in the marital home by the in-laws? Will she not think that certain “mistakes” are responsible for a violent reaction from the in-laws? Will she not even be subconsciously forced to live under the fear of her in-laws?
In-laws harassment common in India
Unfortunately, violence by in-laws is not a new phenomenon in our society. Every other day we come across cases of in-laws attacking their bahu. Even one lawsuit concluded that parent-in-law harassment is part of the “wear and tear” of marriage. In the midst of these situations, it may not be fair to judge the daily soaps that feature Saas-Bahu conflict. But then it’s about representation. Why can’t the makers of Daily Soaps portray the Saas-Bahu conflict as something that shouldn’t be encouraged? Shouldn’t the Saas Bahu conflicts be criticized by daily soap producers instead of portraying it as normal in married life?
We are rapidly moving towards modernity. And it is noteworthy that many films and daily soaps are based on the changing discourse about gender and sexuality. But for some of them it just doesn’t make sense to stick to the older ideas of “spicing up” the show with Saas Bahu conflicts. It is high time we practice and portray Saas-Bahu relationships as a bond of love and sisterhood. Because Saas Bahu conflicts are neither funny nor a medium to “spice up” the show. It is a serious problem that requires immediate action.
The views expressed are the author’s own
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