Brand 'Bahu'

 | September 20,2010 12:57 pm IST

The "I am back" beta set the world rocking. With him was his set of acquaintances that included Wicked Bahu, Majhle Bhaiyya, Babuji, Maaji, Daddu, Dadima, Colgate Bahu with khandan ka chirag on lap and the entire India applauded.

Not long before this happy "apparent ending" of the otherwise unending epic, myriads of women across the country shed tears, devastated at the loss of the country's most adorable, docile, disciplined and teetotaler beta. It won't be an exaggeration if I compare it with that of a national tragedy; it had an impact that had potential enough to shake the entire nation. Thankfully, the macho guys of the country failed to see the authenticity of the tragedy and did not respond adequately.


Opium for the middle class mass, the serials have almost become indispensable. The "bahu" of these soaps actually have metamorphosised into the potential member of every aspiring family. A benchmark has been set through this virtual reality, which helps the otherwise hapless mass reap dreams that stretch far beyond capacity of the Indians who are generally extravagant in everything but dreams. The impact had been stupendous - its influence can be traced across all conceivable boundaries of human existence - social, traditional and on fashion.


This is a paper, which traces the evolution of a concept (a happy, elite business family that experiences all the aspects of human emotions) into one of the most successful abstract brands of the country.


A More Personalized Experience

The growth has been stupendous and it still would be a gross understatement if I restrict it at that... lets examine it through recent evidences. I happened to be a mute spectator at one of the superfluous family functions that the delhiites rejoice occasionally throwing, thus celebrating in the process their newly accumulated wealth. Chief of the attractions, I thought would be the menu which generally is as extravagant as their tall tales. However, I was taken off guard when I realized that it was the blatant imitation of the dress code of some of the most popular soap stars that set the night rocking.


Their fashion statements had actually set the entire gang of aspiring teenagers and young women frantic... be it the overtly dressed "Romola" from the "Kahin kisi roz" fame or the more talked about notoriously seductive "Komolika" of the "Kasuati Zindagi Ki" fame. There were women who discussed the latest happenings in the serials while depicting in the process "it's so boring" syndrome simultaneously when they cherished wearing the junk jewelry that Romola used to glamorize the show. The entire function seemed to be a caricature of the Indian soaps that has firmly influenced the Indian mindset.

After a gap of seven months, I finally got time to meet my parents and I was more than excited to meet them. Little did I know that my loss was compensated for with my mom's overgrowing obsession with these soaps. They had become my stepsisters, stealing my parents from me. After the prime time, when I finally thought, that I would have some time to spend with them over the morning coffee. I was badly mistaken, it was an underestimation of the impact that the serials have carved in the Indian minds. The session started like this - "Did you see the way she (XYZ) was treated yesterday? Serves her right.


One should never do such things. I really liked the episode yesterday." That was my mom proudly professing her accomplishment. I had nothing to say. In came my dad and my spirits revived instantly. "These serials have revolutionized the Indian women. They depict such audacity that corrupts the Indian ethos and confirms the dominating influence of the western countries. Are we really independent?" I sighed. A sigh of relief! Then pat came the question - "By the way, what happened to (XYZ) yesterday?" Need I say anything else?


A recent survey that was undertaken by me as part of an over-enthusiastic project that involved branding, I came across a couple of interesting results. People (in area that I covered - South Delhi) still ruminate about the now-obsolete joint-family systems. 33% confirmed that these serials made them re-think the Indian values and caused them to yearn for the now-lost Indian ethos. However, 23% said that these soaps made them repulsive towards these concepts. They substantiated saying that the concepts has some artificial manifestations in the form of far-fetched ideologies and words of wisdom that bear the stench of marketing gimmicks. However, despite all the justifications, the candid confessions and their credibility still remain a question.


All said and understood, the fact remains that the concept of a happy family on screen is a success. The reasons could be traced from certain environmental factors like the growing stress and anxiety in the middle class Indians. There is a rat race and that often renders the inherent desires of family and happiness dormant. It is through these soaps that Indians get a free entry into vicarious existence, which is almost like a modern fairy tale translated into reality.