Though boundless freedom is an advantage that tags along with life in hostels, when it comes to certain luxuries that we enjoy limitlessly at home, hostel life cuts down those advantages and makes us long for the relaxed bygone days. While scrumptious food is at the forefront on the list, a close second is the joy of watching the favourite shows on television. Some hostels continue to linger in the pre-television era, while some others have just one television for all. Having a common television is not a boon that one has to thank the luck stars for, as there would always be a significant gang of regular viewers everywhere, who would hold the monopoly of deciding what to watch and when, while the others are either forced to agree to the common preference or find an alternative mode of entertainment. Falling in with the common choices can often freak one out, as the options always get narrowed down to the annoying, overrated, and overly dramatic daily ‘saas-bahu’ soaps that are hardly worth watching, but have managed to congregate a large set of audience. They are the longest-running addictions that many are afraid to admit. Finding religious viewers sitting transfixed in front of the television, mesmerised in the spell of such stereotypical dramatic stories often remind one of substance addicts who walk away from reality and embraces the string of hallucinations that they believe can induce happiness and pleasure. Frazzling us further, a few others who miss the daily episodes hurry desperately to read the weekend episodes. Their desperation is quite identical to finding one struggling with withdrawal symptoms and looking for a dose of drug to compose oneself.
Hopelessly confused between reality and fiction, these soap addicts find obsession in a supposedly harmless entertainment, but often turn chaotic if they miss an episode. Finding some of them watch the bygone episodes again and again on YouTube, and later discussion about them excitingly often unveils the extending and overflowing influence of these less than half-an-hour shows. Though most people would hesitate considering daily soap addiction as a growing menace, this strange obsession is more dangerous as getting addicted to cigarettes, drugs, and lotteries. The more one gets, the more quenchable the craving would be.
More often than not, the indefinitely-stretching soap operas are the secret guilty pleasure of both men and women in our country. They leave no stones unturned to strain the precious brain cells of many with ridiculously similar plots that are laced with monotonous stories of mind-numbing gossips, vicious feuds, cat-fights, murders, unrealistic romances, nauseating infidelities, illegitimate children, deceptions, and irksome tantrums of alcoholics who portray either as troublesome husbands or pestering dads, brothers, uncles, and so on. Yet, for all the grimness that they serve each day, these daily doses of good-for-nothing narratives are the life-and-blood of many people, who keep themselves glued to television to watch their favourite characters heave from one dilemma and crisis to the other. Not even a single day goes without finding women befooling themselves with their frantic rush to get back to watch the evening shows, watching them carefully organize their lives based on timings of their favourite serials or avoiding interactions when the shows are on air. These deadly concoctions of mindlessness, enriched with forever-decked-up daughters in law and perpetually scheming mother-in-laws, never conclude on one storyline, but transform to newer ones every time, making sure to retain the obsession of regular viewers. Though the storylines are crafted with just minor variations, Indian daily soaps have one essentiality in common, and that’s the ideal daughter in law who recites her regular morning prayers, cooks several dishes a day with incessant smile, does all the household chores, face every deceitfulness like a superwoman, and yet look energetic, happy and smart, fully clad in zardosi sarees and heavy jewellery, holding the entire family together like a superglue, and giving her well known competitors like Fevicol and the like a run for their money.
Finding them cultivate an aura of troubling thoughts is one of the most distressing outcomes of daily soap addiction. Watching a disgruntling mother-in-law plotting to kill her innocent daughter-in-law who stupidly keeps falling prey to every possible scheme of hers is not a matter of contentment and relaxation; instead, it cripples the free flowing thoughts of many daily soap addicts who might take a cue from this much dangerous plan to vent out their anger on their daughters-in-law. Equally opposable is the sight of watching every other man in daily soaps sneaking out from their marital bliss to fall in love with their seductive secretaries and colleagues. Identifying with the characters of these far-from-reality storylines would definitely make women stalk or troll on their husbands and boyfriends in their ‘007 modi operandi’ to find the ‘other women’ in their partners’ lives. Being exposed to these daily dosages of endless scheming and plotting can transform even the most innocent souls into spiteful ones who might leave no stones unturned to do speak and do unto others without worrying about the repercussions.
As most of the shows get caught in their own rut with boring plots and non-twisty twist, leading to exits of several overly dressed up and decked up men and women, it’s amusing to find people engrossed in speculations about the future changes in plot or discussions on these changes in key characters. Soap opera fans who keep mulling over the possible alternative replacements need some strong therapies on sanity, to bring them back from the useless world of daily soaps that have nothing entertaining in them, but survive on constable dragged out plots that fill the airtime and the nearly vacuum minds of most of the viewers.
Very often, the daily soaps that start on the sweetest note often wrap up in the most unpredictable and unforeseen manners. While it’s might be assign of relief for many, the judgement day might trigger a sort of existential crisis among the significant majority of soap opera addicts, who need a whole lot of time or an equally dramatic show to heal the wound.
With sky-rocketing number of daily soap addicts, the day when our psychiatric wards branch out to kick-starting de-addiction centres psychotherapies to help get rid of daily soaps obsession is imminent.