UTV's Mehta predicts return of the aggressive woman on TV

MUMBAI: Tulsi is on her way out. Or so UTV director Zarina Mehta believes.

The next two years, said Mehta at a workshop on gender representation in media, will belong to comedy and the return of the aggressive heroine on television. "In the early days, we had the rebel female, so well typified by Shanti. From 2000 on, we were inundated with the wife with the adulterous husband, from where we progressed to characters with shades of grey (Saaya was a good example). 

The last two years however, have belonged to the do gooder Tulsi and Parvati stereotypes, says Mehta. The last two years have also seen the straitjacketing of female characters, both in terms of clothes and moral values. "The heroine has constantly been under the magnifying glass," she says.

Soaps like Kyunki and Bhabhi, on the other hand, have ridden the crest of the wave as they have struck an emotional chord with viewers, for want of better choice. The elderly, for want of company, are increasingly left alone with the television and derive satisfaction in viewing serials where the grandparents enjoy benefits they don't in real life, points out Mehta.

Countering criticism of soaps that play out ideal families, Mehta cites the example of UTV's Kehta Hai Dil, a weekly on Star Plus that started out with a storyline replete with realistic characters including a career oriented doctor with a policeman for a husband. The plot didn't work and the TRPs faltered till the production house turned the storyline around and converted into a family drama. 

Mehta however believes that television changes radically every two years and that the tide is turning in favour of more comedy and the aggressive heroine again. "Our research during 2000-2002 showed that women believed that they would like to be like Tulsi, while conversely, men wished their wives could like Tulsi, but knew that they weren't.

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