The action starts around five o’clock in the evening. The whole street becomes resonant with a single jingle that seems to enrapture the residents into staying inside the house. A quivery, baritone voice begins its highly sentimental recital, threatening to move the audience to tears by weaving sad, wailing words into the song.
Ladies and gentlemen, what you had just heard was the title song of the worthless yet alarmingly popular soaps (or "TV-serials") we have today. Marking the beginning of a full half-hour performance by some very talented actors and actresses in town, it warms up the spectators into the verge of tears while instilling in them the seed of anticipation of what would follow after the previous day’s incidents.
Real life is easily forgotten as the viewers merge into the melancholy, repulsive and extremely domestic scenes happening one after the other. Youngsters learn all facts of life from this trash which takes place everyday. The heroine is on a high off glycerine and the villains are ruthless figures who live, eat and breathe only one word – revenge. (One such villain had to flee an entire state because he was constantly attacked by persons on the street as punishment for the crimes he did on TV). Old women draw examples for life from the characters in the serials, swear by them and even cite dialogues from them. A few observations:
1)The name (of the show) is invariably that of a female.
2)Something in every episode makes you think that the director gets his bread and butter from tugging people’s heartstrings.
3)After a few minutes you engage yourself in better, less boring activities such as finding the exact angle between the thumb and forefinger in order to effectively pick your nose, or determining whether the cat on the wall far away is sleeping or just pretending to.
4- or was it 5?)The surprise is when you discover that the commercials are five minutes long.
watever)At the end, you sit up and feel yourself all over, rub your eyes and say “What the heck”
The bedlam continues long into the night...
The idiot-box is finally switched off after much hesitation and the people experience an awful empty feeling (as if they had pulled the plug on a loved one). They wipe their eyes and shuffle off to their chores, their minds preoccupied with sympathy towards the woman who was deserted by her drunken husband or the she-devil 'villainess' at whose deeds they had clenched their fingers barely a few minutes back.
Disclaimer: I dunno what is the case of other parts of India, but this is based on my observations in Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
Sometime ago there was an ad in a local magazine featuring a computer with a TV-Tuner card. The ad showed a mouse (the digital variety) in tears… with a footnote – “Now you can watch 'serials' in your computer”. Well. That just about sums it up.
Sad... but true.