My daughter was plagued with doubts as she left for a 3-day field trip to the wilderness with her classmates. When the ‘what-if” scenarios came up I scrambled around for plausible answers. The names of Kiran Bedi, Serena Williams among others were bandied around for strong role models as my 16-year-old grappled with her fears of travelling away from family for the first time. When the call came through later that night I was unprepared. I initially panicked wondering if something had gone wrong.
‘What's happening on the television, Aunty?’ My answering ‘duh’ was lost in the commotion as 15 girls were screaming on the other end of the line. Their rattle-fire questions followed by long-winded sighs and squeals of excitement had me befuddled for a while. And then the penny dropped. All the ruckus was not about a cricket match or a rock band.
It was about a Hindi television serial playing on prime time and these girls had called for an episode update. I had to abandon my dinner (which had already got stuck somewhere in my gullet), scramble around for the remote control and follow the dialogue on screen. All in the name of motherhood.
“What should I call this love?” When I heard the title for this Hindi serial the first time it made no sense to me. But when my daughter insisted that I watch a few episodes with her I realized what was the serial’s USP for the teen crowd. The lead pair were easy on the eyes (in teen parlance ‘high hotness factor’) and they could act too.
The storyline, one of romance between a couple who were ideologically and temperamentally poles apart was interesting for many reasons. There was all the drama needed for sustained watching interspersed with humour that wasn't too cheesy. If it appealed to someone like me who only watched the good old English sitcoms, then it certainly didn't seem to be the run of the mill. My husband didn't understand my new-found peculiar hobby when I disappeared for half an hour every night with our daughter in front of the television. He raved and ranted for a while wondering if we had lost our senses while my younger daughter was mortified. “Please don't even mention that you are watching this serial in front of my friends!” she pleaded.
Like most hobbies, this too came to an abrupt ending. When the male lead of the serial recently announced that he was quitting the show, it seemed like a wake up call. “But what are we going to do at 8 pm every night?” My daughter's friends lamented on the phone. I was hard pressed not to retort. “Get a life!”