"...Dipankar Gupta contends, justly, that India's fascination with western gadgetry and lifestyles has not brought modernity. You can subjugate women and make a weapon of religion just as well with a mobile phone as without one, probably better. True modernity, Mr Gupta writes, entails adhering to universal norms, upholding individual rights, making the state accountable. His book pleads with India to put modernisation in place of “westoxication”..."
महेश एलकुंचवार, लोकसत्ता, August 17 2013:
I stopped watching any Marathi and Hindi TV soap operas more than a decade ago.
This does not mean I am against them. I might have been once but not now. They are popular and, other than creating considerable employment, they serve a useful purpose: Serving senior citizens.
Maharashtra has a large and growing population of middle-class senior citizens. They now live longer and (at least bodily) healthier. While it's often easy to say, one should read books, there is a limit to how much one can read with a weakening eyesight.
A similar argument can be made about even chatting or walking. Public parks have almost vanished from the most of urban Maharashtra. Even suburban roads are un-walkable because they are serious-accident traps. There is no public transport that is economical to use and not dangerous. In places like Pune, auto-rickshaws refuse the fares for short distances with impunity. All this severely restricts senior citizens' movements beyond immediate neighbourhood.
There are no card/carom/chess clubs in the vicinity.
How do people kill time from about sunset to until they sleep?
Look at the picture below. Aren't they well served by Marathi soap operas?
Artist: Vasant Sarwate, Lalit, Diwali 2007 (वसंत सरवटे, ललित, दिवाळी)
Therefore, those who watch "vulgar and prurient and dumb" serials are not vulgar and prurient and dumb in all their interests.
My wife- Anju (अंजु)- too hardly watched any TV except extremely funny 'CID' on Sony channel. (CID is really funny, in fact currently the only genuinely funny program on Hindi-Marathi TV. Just watch some of the CID jokes on FB.)
A couple of months ago Anju started watching 'Radha Hi Bawari' (राधा ही बावरी), a Marathi TV serial. I asked her why.
She said she liked its theme of romance of over-thirty professional, well qualified girl- Radha (राधा)- with a younger, ingenuous, lowly-educated boy- Sourav (सौरव), her husband.
And then one recent morning, she announced: she would not watch it any more. I once again asked her why.
She said she was sick and tired of the way Sourav was constantly denounced by his wife and his motherly sister-in-law for "not doing anything worthwhile".
My wife felt why Sourav should do "something" as long as he was a good sensitive person, a potentially good homemaker and, above all, loved by Radha. As a qualified doctor, Radha was making enough money to lead a happy life. Did they ever fear that they might destroy Sourav in the process of remaking him? Couldn't they change Sourav with their love? Couldn't they be little less shrill?
Having seen glimpses of the serial along with my wife, I completely agree with my wife. The serial reinforces the stereotypes of 20th century: a man / husband/ father should earn money no matter what...otherwise he is not a 'man'.
Artist: Emily S. Flake, Courtesy: brain pickings
The rate at which Sourav is being pounded by his close ones, I think, he needs to see a psychiatrist very soon. Of course, that will never be shown because seeing a psychiatrist is perhaps for the sissies!
I have Dipankar Gupta's 'Mistaken Modernity: India Between Worlds', first published 2000.
I have always liked what the book basically does: "issues a damning indictment of the "westoxicated" elitist Indian middle class, and shows how unmodern the people of this class are in the very areas in which they are considered to be modern".
Akash Kapur wrote about it in The New York Times, July 29 2010:
"...Mr. Gupta was referring to a particularly superficial version of modernity that he believed was taking root in the nation — one defined more by Western consumer habits and lifestyles than by adherence to a cosmopolitan, tolerant set of values and democratic norms.
He pointed, for instance, to the persistence of caste bias, oppressive traditions and historical inequalities in a nation where ownership of washing machines, cars and other material trappings of global capitalism was increasing. He argued that in many ways India was an unmodern nation..."
courtesy: the owner of the copyrights to this image and the author of the book
p.s I write on September 27 2013:
Loksatta, September 26 2013:
" वीस वर्षांपूर्वी, उपग्रह वाहिन्यांच्या उदयकाळात आलेल्या बोल्ड नायिकाप्रधान मालिकांची जागा आता सोशिक, दुखी नायिकांनी घेतली आहे. आजचे प्रेक्षक काळाच्या वीस वर्षे मागे आहेत, असे वास्तव टीव्ही-चित्रपट निर्माती अश्विनी यार्दी यांनी बुधवारी परखडपणे मांडले...उपग्रह वाहिन्यांवरून सुरुवातीच्या काळात दाखविल्या जाणाऱ्या मालिकांचा प्रेक्षकवर्ग समाजातील उच्चशिक्षितांचा होता. त्यामुळे तेव्हा हसरतें, तारा अशा मालिकांमधून बोल्ड नायिका प्रेक्षकांच्या पसंतीला उतरल्या. सन २००० नंतर उपग्रह वाहिन्या सर्वदूर पसरल्या. शहरीच नव्हे तर निमशहरी ग्रामीण भागातील प्रेक्षकांना समोर ठेवून मालिका बनवणे क्रमप्राप्त ठरले. आज बोल्ड नायिकांना प्रेक्षकवर्ग नाही. मालिकांमधील नायिका या मान खाली घालून राहणाऱ्या, दुख सहन करणाऱ्या व सोशिक रंगवल्या जात आहेत, असे यार्दी म्हणाल्या. भरजरी कपडय़ांमध्ये घरात वावरणाऱ्या, किचनमध्ये सतत राबणाऱ्या, स्वयंपाक बनवत राहणाऱ्या, कुटुंबियांमध्ये आग लावत असलेल्या व्यक्तिरेखा प्रेक्षकांच्या आवडीनुसार दाखवल्या जातात. त्यांच्यात बदल केलेला प्रेक्षकांना रुचत नाही. वेगळ्या विषयांवरील, गंभीर मालिका आपटतात, अशी खंतही त्यांनी व्यक्त केली. किचनमध्ये तयार होणाऱ्या पदार्थाची प्रक्रिया विचारणारे, सोफासेटचे कौतुक करणारे आणि भिंतीवरील चित्र का बदलले याची चौकशी करणारे अनेक फोन आणि पत्रे येत असतात..."