BizAsia Special: Unconventional characters on TV

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Indian TV is going through change, with fresh new voices and innovative network brand philosophies. As a result, viewers have been introduced to unconventional characters like Maya , the villainous female lead from ‘Beyhadh’ or Satrupa, the bold matriarch from ‘Rishton Ka Chakravyuh’. And the movement is only gaining momentum with more and more characters and stories that don’t fit the traditional TV ‘saas-bahu’ mold currently being broadcast. We look at some of these characters.

Anika – ‘Ishqbaaaz’

Anika is a bold, headstrong modern young woman. At the core of the character, she is the perfect daughter-in-law, but on the surface Anika looks and acts nothing like the timid, tactful, sari clad women we are used to seeing. While most Indian TV characters go through a transformation post-marriage, Anika has still kept her original style and demeanor. In fact, her catchy phrases and one-liners have caught on to the rest of her family as well. In a landscape where most female characters have very distinct images pre- and post-marriage, Anika is a great reminder that women don’t have to change themselves to fit into a new family.

Vedika Mathur – ‘Aap Ke Aa Jane Se’

Vedika is a mature woman in a young romance, which brings an interesting perspective to the usual love story we are used to seeing. She’s a realist in contrast to Sahil’s carefree optimism, with her everyday life coming in the way of following her heart. Their love story does face the typical tropes of unsupportive families and evil exes, but the main barrier is Vedika’s lack of faith in life working in her favour. Her resignation to her fate is the opposite of the unwavering optimism of typical TV heroine, who is always willing to fight for her love. Vedika, however, tries to distance herself from Sahil for his own benefit. She has a viewpoint that is seldom explored on Indian TV, which creates an interesting dynamic in this love story.

Nimki Singh – ‘Nimki Mukhiya’

Nimki is a feisty, sharp-tongued, ambitious girl who also happens to be in charge of her village. While most shows sidetrack the female lead’s career, especially after marriage, the whole story of ‘Nimki Mukhiya’ revolves around Nimki’s career as the head of the village. Despite her naivety and overconfidence, she has a solid understanding of right and wrong and is willing to fight for justice. She has also rarely shies away from professing her love for her partner Baboo, a welcome change from the usual bashful female lead. Nimki isn’t perfect, she can be selfish, money-driven and delusional, but her flaws are what make her growth compelling to watch.

Deep Raichand – ‘Ishq Mein Marjawan’

Deep Raichand is the perfect man. A loyal husband, he loves his wife and family and is willing to do anything for them.  The only problem – he’s aligned with the villain. Deep is one of the few anti-heroes on Indian TV, a character who is truly gray in a universe that is conventionally black or white. His actions may be evil, but his intentions and reasons behind them aren’t. Everything he does is to protect his family. Deep has inverted Indian TV’s perfect man by keeping all the conventional qualities but giving them a sinister end result.

Introducing unconventional characters has allowed showrunners to depict different stories as well. Seeing TV channels welcome more and more diverse perspectives on screens paints a positive picture on where the industry is headed. Hopefully, with audiences appreciating fresh content, media companies will take on bigger risks and tell bolder stories.

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