Every day in my household at precisely 7pm just like clockwork my mum enters the dining room. She proceeds to scan the entire room until she finds the object of her desire… her ‘precious’, aka the Sky remote control. Following her successful acquisition of the prized object, she frantically presses the three digits that I loathe MOST in the world, 7…8…4. Now sadly, this particular combination of these 3 numbers can only ever lead to one channel when you have a Sky Box… and that is Star Plus!
Star Plus is a Hindi-language general entertainment television channel based in India… and the bane of my existence! The channel showcases an array of mindless Indian serials 24 hours a day. And every half-hour long show possesses an identical plotline to the one that precedes it AND the one that follows it. There is even an overlap in the actors that are used, so typically one will find that their head has begun to spin after watching the channel for about an hour or so.
These days, the most popular Star Plus drama storylines revolve around a simple young girl who is as good as gold, helpful at home and loved by all. As the episodes progress, she meets a handsome young rich-kid who is typically snobbish and very materialistic. He becomes the simple girl’s pet-project and object of affection and over a few shows they fall madly in love (gazing into each other’s eyes for around 10/15 minutes at a time with an accompaniment of slow Bollywood music in the background) and he is changed, for the better, forever. Consequently they marry, but this is when the troubles begin in the drama! Because the girl’s new mother-in-law is pure evil; she is a sour-faced style-icon with her designer saris, who looks down her nose at this little village girl. Thus, the episodes which follow the spectacular big fat Indian wedding day, involve the head-to-head battles between the innocent daughter-in-law and her monster of a mother-in-law. The daughter-in-law is forever trying to win over her new family with her goodness and well-taught family values. A young, brown Mother Teresa, bless her cotton socks!
And such monotony is somehow the light of my mum’s life and I just don’t understand it. The storylines are just so predictably bland. But still I know of countless Indian women who race home to get back in time for their favourite Star Plus dramas, even putting off cooking until their drama has finished! It’s madness!
Their heads get filled with ridiculousness that teaches women to bottle their emotions and keep secrets from their families, because apparently it’s for their own good. Communication between family members is completely discouraged and as a result an entire generation of Indian women is getting brainwashed on a daily basis. Women are taught to aspire to be the strong and silent type, the matriarch, who holds their family together with their powerful resolution and unwavering religious certainty. Star Plus teaches people that passively waiting for problems to pass is the ideal solution to any issue and that segregation within families is ESSENTIAL. As a result, I’m absolutely sure that the damaging effects of this Star Plus cult can be seen in households ALL OVER the globe.
And don’t get me started on the barbie-doll actresses. The unrealistic manner in which they all emerge from their beds after a ‘night’s sleep’, fully kitted-out in heavily embroidered Indian outfits, with faces caked in perfect makeup, and hair styled and fixed in place, is beyond ridiculous! And seeing these aesthetically perfect actresses casually lounging around at home in clothing fit for the Queen, subliminally pressurizes Indian women into believing that they too must ALWAYS look physically flawless; just another unnecessary stress that NO WOMAN needs!
Additionally, the characters in the dramas lack complexity in every way possible. They’re always either 100% good, or, 100% bad, there is NEVER a grey area with regards to characters’ personas. For example, switching on the channel I can instantly recognise and differentiate between the heroine and the villain of the serial. If a woman is wearing a deep, dark coloured sari and a tonne of black eyeliner, she’s guaranteed to be evil. However, if she is wearing a neutral colour like green or white, has her hair tied modestly in a long plait and is wearing minimal eye-makeup, she’s guaranteed to be the angel in the story. Absurd you think? Yes, it is!
Moreover, the style of filming never fails to make my eyes roll. The rapid shooting which switches between different characters and zooms frenziedly into their artificially shocked faces, teamed with threatening, explosive music occurs in EVERY drama and successfully wastes about half of the total running time.
My sisters and I plead endlessly with my mum to change the channel every day, but it’s to no avail. My dad labels the channel as bakwaass, ‘rubbish’, but all of our complaints and criticisms fall on deaf ears because until at least 10pm, Star Plus is the main channel on in our household. So I encourage anyone out there suffering from a similar plight to my own to keep discouraging your parents or grandparents from watching Star Plus, because we can’t give up! We must stop the spread of this Star Plus epidemic before it’s too late!