Impact of Indian dramas on Chitral’s society

By Shahana Syed (NUML, Lahore campus)
I was tasked with a project to be submitted to NUML (Lahore campus) for the fulfillment of my master’s degree requirement. My project was on the influence of Indian dramas and Indian satellite channels on Chitrali society, especially women. It is a case everywhere in the Upper Chitral that Indian channels are popular amongst the masses and there is no denial of it. You overhear women talking about characters of certain plays and giving their own perspective of it. This only happens when someone or something have/has had pure love for it or has been drastically influenced by it. During the project work, some interviews were conducted. The interviewees included housewives, health professionals, students, children and their parents and teachers.

After going through these interviews it was observed and learnt that the influence of Indian satellite channels is far greater than it is generally perceived. Not only the illiterate housewives but also the educated ones live under the influence of these dramas. Whenever they sit together, these Indian drama serials are the main point of discussion. These Indian serials overwhelmingly portray women as “The negative and an extremely political minded human being” who plays tricks and plays politics in the household. This portrayal has adversely affected female minds in Chitral as they think extremely negative of their female counterparts in the household. This has created trust issues among women in families.

The glamourous lifestyle shown in these Indian shows has not only changed the sense of style in young women in Chitral but also encourages them to follow and adopt the Indian culture. With this the vicious circle of “wish” list starts which leaves most of the people, especially the young one, in the grip of depression and anxiety. Elopement rate has increased drastically during these recent years,and the general public is associating this with watching Indian serials. The young girls wish for the world which is portrayed in these serials and fantasize the way of life which is shown to them; this encourages them to take bad decisions such as to elope from their parent’s house. In extreme cases they commit suicide. They wish for the same glamourous and luxurious lifestyle which they see in these plays. The reality comes out to be different which leaves these young girls to take extreme decisions.

Chitral has remained an exemplary district for a decade regarding dowry system. There used to be simple exchange of gifts on marriage in Chitrali tradition. However, because of Indian dramas and their portrayal of jewelries and luxury items as a source of respect and honor for the daughter, parents are now adopting this new tradition.

Under the impact of these daily soups and dramas; people are not only drawn towards this unwanted tradition but are also adopting it slowly and gradually. Because of the huge portrayal of glamorous girls/ladies wearing modern dresses and jewelries in Indian dramas women find them very attractive and are trying to copy that style in their real life.

Hindi cartoons have changed the way our children used to communicate, as now our children are using Hindi words in their daily language. The youth is also embracing this alien culture in terms of their behavior, dresses and their way of living. Such has been the influence of Indian culture on the Chitrali society. This alien culture is invading centuries old Chitrali culture and traditions and has negative impact on it. The increase in elopements, suicide, increase in love marriages, changes in dressing style;has been due to the heavy influence of the Hindustani dramas.The Hindu religion is overly portrayed in Indian dramas and movies deliberately to influence the people who are watching these serials and movies. These have continuously been inflicted in the minds of children and youth. Now it is slowly and gradually eroding the core values of the Chitrali society. We should take this cultural invasion seriously and try to minimize the use of Television in our homes.

Published in ChitalToday on Jan 21, 2019.

9 Replies to “Impact of Indian dramas on Chitral’s society”

  1. There is nothing bad in Indian or Pakistani dramas. In every drama serial, there is a story, depicting the real issues which we are facing today everywhere. No drama can motivate the viewers towards elopement and suicide. It the mindset of chitrali people, they give preference to suicide rather than face and solve the problem. They get eloped because of their family negligence. There is no such thing in dramas. Why the people especially, girls follow only the negative elements, they should look for other good things as well. They need to educate more, so that, their mind could perceive positivity.

  2. Indian society has been an Arya-dominated society while Chitral has been more Aryan in society and racial ties. Arya society has some peculiarities and one of them is that Aryan Women are bold in manners and mostly dominant in family affairs. This match of society makes Dramas more popular here. Chitrali women are basically simpleton as compared to Indian society or what shown in Indian Dramas. When Chitrali women try to copy them, they look idiotic in dress as well as in manners. A Chitrali girl wearing Indian Pyjammas or modified Burqa replace of Sarhi, she looks more like a Grasshopper(Shalak) or a Duluk. More negative aspects are that women here learn more cunning and dramatic dealing, lying and deceit. They do not think of their own Islamic principles. Moreover, Akash, Sapna, Jiya, etc are some names women have given to their children.

  3. Dear Sister, brothers and elders, I must thank you all for encouraging me on my first ever write up like this. Obviously there have been many shortcomings partly due to some academic restrictions I could not write in detail. My project was a Documentary and the words in the write up are mostly the views of the interviewees. The documentary is the property of NUML and I don’t have the permission to release it for Public viewing otherwise it would have clarified the points raised by brother Muntazir Ali. The argument that it would been been better for an academic audience rather to be published online is genuine but they needed a short article to be published online that’s why the write up.

    Having said that, no matter how we define culture or Indian dramas or Indian culture; it is a fact that Indian dramas have an influence on the society. Mine was an attempt of a student to look into this with all my shortcomings and limitations. It would be my humble request to researchers such as our brother Muntazir Ali and others who have the capability and resources; to come forward and conduct a detailed study into the matter. This is a good start that at least we are discussing the issue(s) here.

    Thank you.

  4. Let me start with a disclaimer: I am not arguing for “Indian dramas,” or any other genre of entertainment for that matter. This is, however, without denying the ‘influence’ they wield and the need for ‘understanding’ how and why they ‘shape’ popular attitudes in the way they do and what ‘work’ they perform in communities that self-perceive as more or less homogenous ‘cultural’ entities. My comments strictly relate to certain methodological preferences and ontological assumptions that underpin this study, to the extent that they can be gleaned from the material available in this piece of writing. In all fairness to the researcher, it might be the case that the nature of the medium (online newspaper) and intended audience militated against including details of a strictly technical nature that would have otherwise made perfect sense within an academic/disciplinary context. The issues to which I take exception, however, remain since the claims being made are based on the study.
    1. Methodologically, it would have made more sense to augment interviews with focus groups in order to gauge perceptions about and attitude towards “Indian dramas” and their verbalization and ‘performance’ in a group setting that could, with certain assumptions, be thought of as constitutive of a larger population. This would have made the assertion, for instance, about “trust issues” much more substantial. Given the nature of the topic being investigated, a quantitative component covering availability of dish antennas, access to Indian channels, and number of hours spend watching “Indian dramas and soaps” would have given us a much better feel of their reach.
    2. That some “Indian dramas” portray women negatively as perpetually conniving vamps is a valid argument, but to suggest that this has “adversely affected” “female minds” in Chitral to the extent of causing negative thoughts about “their female counterparts” and “trust issues” is a rather problematic assertion. Keeping aside the issue of causality which is notoriously hard to pin down when it comes to the influence of ideas, the suggestion, in speaking of the “female mind,” buys into the very notions of sexism and patriarchy that some “Indian dramas” propagate and props a view of the ‘Chitrali female,’ if at all we can think of such a category unproblematically, as an unthinking and unreflecting simpleton whose mind is nothing more than a blank slate. Ironically, this is despite the researcher overhearing women “talking about certain plays and giving their own perspective of it.” To my mind, this underscores a pretty active engagement with the plot and flow of these “dramas” and undermines the view of the ‘Chitrali female mind’ that the researcher appears to propagate. Additionally, it is a theoretically hazardous undertaking to jump from “talking about plays’ and proffering perspectives on it to adopting “Indian culture” since it denies the women in question their positionality and individuality.
    3. Elopement and, especially, suicide are spectacular and sporadic social events, in contradistinction to the banal, the everyday, and the routinised complex of emotions, attitudes, inadequacies, and deprivations that rarely get noticed and talked about, and “Indian dramas” could be a part of that complex but, again, to suggest a causal link based on what the “general public” is saying is to kill the whole purpose of research, and of academic inquiry as such. If the “general public” is “associating” elopement with “watching Indian serials,” could it be that these “dramas” are handy scapegoats for structural deficiencies that plague “our” society and are coming apart at their hinges in a fast-changing world? Any researcher worth her salt would be, at the least, wary of taking such associations at face value. To be sure, the very idea of the “general public” is itself suspect. It is a hollow phrase that is thrown around without adequate attention to how it masks power differentials and, hence, stifles helpful debate.
    4. It is not “Indian” culture that “Indian dramas” propagate, precisely because there is no “Indian” culture to speak of. What the “dramas” do portray is the glitz, glamour, and pace of late-capitalism with all its absurdities and inequalities, and we must speak about what that means to ‘us’ in Chitral. However, that discourse, in order to be inclusive and effective, must jettison the idea that there is one, homogenous, timeless, and perfect in all sense ‘Chitrali culture’ that has somehow survived in its pristineness and only ‘now’ coming apart. The idea of a ‘Chitrali culture,’ like that of “general public,” is a hollow one, without a substantial core.Too often, it is invoked to muzzle opinions, to other, and to hide structural inequalities (gender, baradari, religion) that may actually be at the heart of many of ‘our’ social ills.
    I make these comments in good faith, and in full recognition, and hope, that the actual study may be a much more nuanced and critical investigation of the issue.

  5. Very critical topic. This is very alarming situation especially for young generation.The impact of these dramas getting momentum day by day.There a need for proper counseling to overcome this problem.

  6. Today´s dramas are not dramas. Students of English know this thing. These dramas are clearly violating the rules of dramas. These are serials. Even episodic dramas must have 20 to 25 episodes. But these are crossing 300 episodes and often may cross 3 or years. For example *Gopi* has been televising since 2014 i think. What is the result. Dramas should have a result within some episodes.

  7. It is wisely said that ‘Adolescents are not yours’ they are different individuals in their own right. A blind stage of life so to say. The first priority of households where electricity becomes available is to provide TV set supported with Satellite dish. Guess the sentiments of an adolescent who comes in contact with Bollywood shows for the first time in life. It simply captures their innocence. Some of our own TV shows are no exception. Among others, the easy access to satellites may well be a reason for increasing elopements or suicidal attempts in some cases. Shahana has done well to base her research on this important topic, it would be interesting to see more revealing information in her paper.

  8. Drama’s and films are made based on facts which happen’s in a society and its totally upto you what you take out of it.
    All indian drama’s don’t play negative roles. There are positive roles also.
    Internet has made our life easier in all step of our life but unlucky in Islamic Republic of pakistan, people use it to watch porns and pakistan is on top among asian countries. so we cannot blame internet for this.

  9. A quick brown fox jumps over a lazy dog comes true in this regard. Parent have least to do with parenting. Parents and children especially daughters and teenage children sit together and watch these unethical types of dramas, movies, films etc which donot only anti Islamic, but also anti social, moral and completely irrelevant to our conservative Chitral Society. parents are the ideal for their kids. If they demonstrate such behaviour, then what else we are expecting from the poor youth. Being together they are apart and busy in their own businesses. We still have a little in our hand to do some thing. I thank Ms Shahana Syed for sharing such a matter of national concern.

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