Indian Television shows oscillate between content driven shows that mirror our society to those that help create a new narrative to ones that perpetuate old mind-sets. Enough has been written about 'Saas-Bahu drama’ shows that are responsible for strengthening archaic mind-sets. But all is not lost. There are some shows that have in fact helped in changing mind-sets while being entertaining. Shows that have been progressive without being preachy. Here are 4 top Indian TV shows that managed inspire change through powerful stories.
Based on the true story of IPS Officer Kanchan Choudhary Bhattacharya, Udaan is one of the first Indian TV shows aired in the late 80s and early 90s that focused on women’s empowerment. The show narrates the tale of a young girl named Kalyani Singh who becomes an IPS officer while battling gender discrimination at every level. Apart from having a strong female lead who broke the glass ceiling, the show also raised the bar with a male protagonist portrayed by Shekar Kapur who considers her as his equal. The show came at a time when it was uncommon to see women in uniform and acted as a catalyst for many to follow their dreams.
Aired in 1994 on national broadcaster Doordarshan, Rajani became the face of every Indian housewife as well as the voice for her problems. The lead character Rajani, played by late Priya Tendulkar, portrayed the day to day problems of housewives and the ingenious solutions she found to survive them. Rajani became a household name and gave homemakers a new sense of empowerment while dealing with everyday challenges ranging from corruption to price rise.
3. Shaanti: Ek Aurat Ki Kahaani:
Shaanti, portrayed by Mandira Bedi, narrates the fight for justice by a mother-daughter duo after the daughter is raped by two influential and wealthy brothers hailing from the film industry. Despite being a victim, Shaanti showed how women can fight battles single-handed and win. First aired in 1994, it is still remembered as an iconic Indian TV show.
4. Main Kuch Bhi Kar Sakti Hoon:
Reflecting the mandate of national broadcaster Doordarshan to educate and empower, Main Kuch Bhi Kar Sakti Hoon revolves around the journey of Dr. Sneha Mathur, a young doctor, who leaves behind her lucrative career in Mumbai and decides to work in her village Pratappur. The show tackles deep-set social norms and difficult issues like sex selective practices, sexual and reproductive health of young people, women’s health, and sanitation and hygiene with utmostsensitivity. Under the leadership of Dr. Sneha Mathur, the women of Pratappur fight for their rights through collective action. Begun in 2014, Main Kuch Bhi Kar Sakti Hoon has successfully completed two seasons and is currently showing its third season. Women of India, especially in rural areas, have been encouraged and inspired by Dr. Sneha to demand equal status in society.