When we were children and our grandparents read to us fairy tales or stories which had morals at the end, it left us with a lesson to learn or the sense of judgement of right/wrong. Sadly enough, we grew up, and we no longer can indulge in happy endings in real life; but the question is, don’t grown-ups deserve the same? Shows such as Crime patrol, Savdhaan (careful) India, Gumraah (mislead) are generally aired late at night – do we really want to see such heinous crimes right before going to bed?
These shows predominantly victimize the women by portraying the “Bechari Abla Naari” (helpless naive women) image in most of the episodes, while very few episodes show men as the victim, and let’s not even mention LGBTQ community; as they are hardly represented. But one thing is for sure, the makers of these serials do a great job in maintaining the patriarchal Indian mentality (excuse the pun).
I am not denying the fact that awareness is definitely important, but a moral/positive message at the end of the shows needs to be a REQUIREMENT because the truth is that in our fast-paced lives, which is extremely dependent on gadgets and the media, the viewers end up believing these shows. This is due to the fact that these shows declare that the incidences are based on true events; which inevitable influences our opinion and thought process.
To further put the record straight, these shows do not even telecast episodes of ALL types of crimes in India; crimes range from a small theft to a political scam, but how often do we witness such incidences on television? Awareness has become a secondary motif; these shows air the stories which gain higher TRP ratings, nothing else. Repetitive hammering the minds of the viewer with similar type of crimes of rape, child labour, and domestic violence with extra added ‘Mirch Masala’ (exaggeration) is firstly not giving the true picture and secondly, it frightens the viewer. This negative imagery is ultimately perpetuating cowardice in women on one hand, and on the other hand these shows acts as a bridge to the derogatory standards set by the Indian society for women; standards such as the time to return home, the people we decide to be friends with or even the clothes to be worn in public.
I totally understand if some readers of the blog might judge my opinion, that, “how can I say something like this even after being a woman myself?” But, don’t you worry, I do not belong to the elitist part of the society, I understand the fears of the commoner. I use the public transport to commute and it does scare me when I am walking on a low-lit road or when the cab driver diverts from the route displaying on the map, and the cherry on the cake is that I live in the capital of India; which is popular for atrocious crimes.
All I am saying is that the shows need to change the style of narration, add a positive element, and encourage people. Just by stating incidences or reading out the Indian Penal Codes (IPC) for crimes is definitely not the solution. Most of the victims are generally reluctant to file cases, some of them would not even remember the exact code and the financially marginalized category of the society might not even have the luxury of watching these shows (then who are actually the viewers of these so-called awareness programmes?). Are these shows just like any other soap serial on television?
Well, I clearly have posed quite a few rhetorical questions in this blog. However, the aim is just to make you (the audience) question and decide what material is truly relevant and admissible for such a diverse category of viewers. This piece of writing is not meant to impose or change anyone’s views. It’s essential to question and not blindly follow what is shown. By doing so, this could possible someday result in these shows changing their names from Crime Patrol to Morality Patrol or Savdhaan (careful) India to Jaagruk (aware) India and Gumraah (Mislead) to Suchanaa (information)!
But until then, let’s make sure we do not believe and accept everything that is shown in these shows; as reality is sometimes far different from what the media depicts.
Poushali pursued a masters degree in Development Studies with a Major in Economics of Development from The International Institute of Social Studies(ISS), The Hague, The Netherlands and is currently an intern at CSR.