Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Where are those serials today ?

Have been away from the blogging scene for a quite while, but yesterday, the thoughts (and words) could not be held back.

It happened thus: 

A typical scene in most middle-class families these days, and no different at our place. We were having dinner yesterday watching, as usual, the Marathi soap operas (given that we stick to having dinner together, Marathi serials - which my parents prefer - score over the IPL as well !!!). Anyways, the scene in the prime-time serial was this: the typical joint family (the patriarch, sons, bahus, grand children et all) are celebrating on the eve of their grand-daughter's wedding. Then, as it so often happens, disaster strikes. It turns out that, unknowing to the others, one of the sons has taken a business loan with the family house as security. When the business fails, the money lender arrives at the door telling them to vacate the place. The usual melodrama follows: the son is ostracized, the patriarch collapses in grief etc. etc. Quite the typical soap opera you would say, typical in any language. Even during the breaks, the trailer of another serial showed a person threatening another on the phone, warning him of dire consequences once he breaks free from jail et et.

Now why am I narrating all this ? This is definitely not a tirade against the quality of today's TV serials. But just that yesterday, my eight year-old niece was also watching all of the above, and about as intently as anyone else. Quite what her mind made of all this I do not know, but looking at her, I moved back in time about two decades ago. At a time when I was about as old as she is today, or slightly older. And I tried to recollect what kind of television programmes we used to see then. And the difference was stark. And I fondly recollected one serial that was made specifically for people of my age then: secondary school-going children. The serial was 'Sanskaar'. Set in the famous King George school in Dadar and starring Mohan Joshi as the Principal Ballal, this delightful serial showed how a school, provided it was guided by the right person with the right ideas, could inculcate strong values in the children. It had characters of all kinds: the cane-happy teacher, the upper-class and well-off child, students from the poorer sections of society, variety of parents etc. And it did not resort to sermonising. It connected big time with its primary audience: school-going children like me and their parents. No wonder I looked forward to watching it every week.

The point that I am trying to make is that while we complain that today's kids watch too much of cartoons etc, do we really ask ourselves: What other alternatives do they have ? How much of television today tries to address the future generation by communicating the right kinds of messages in a way their minds can easily understand ? Except for reality shows, there is hardly anything a kid can look forward to (and we all know the other controversies the reality shows create !). What about some good old-fashioned serials for a change ? Serials like 'Sanskaar' and, for example, 'Bharat Ek Khoj' (surely no better way to teach Indian history ?) are the order of the day. But the question is, will the television production houses listen ????


PS: I have shared on my FaceBook profile, the wonderful title song of 'Sanskaar' (by Sudhir Phadke).