The generation which was born close to the year of India’s independence, in between 1945-55, saw a country struggling to stand on its feet. They saw many wars, much violence, extreme poverty, and inexistence of basic human rights, bore many responsibilities of large families, fought epidemics and fatal diseases. They had many national leaders to follow during their youth. That generation lived to serve, their families first and later their children. They lived to earn. To provide. Money for them was fruit of a hard earned labor to be saved and spent reasonably.
My generation, born after 30-40 years, found things to be very different. The basic human rights were now met, we were provided with good health care and good education. In middle class families, the concept of “merit” was deep-rooted, so that we work hard for good education and get good jobs. The only dream our parents had for us was of financial security. With the opening of financial markets in the 90ies, this dream came true. Money for us became a status symbol, a means to live a better lifestyle.
The lifestyle, any generation wants to lead, is very delicately linked to the culture of that society. For our parents, in the struggling years after independence, it meant providing enough for everyone, rising above the class levels, donating for religious activities/ceremonies. For our generation, in absence of strong national leaders to follow, Bollywood & television played a major role in shaping the culture. If there is a movie in which three friends drive to Goa, every college student would dream of going to Goa. If there is a movie in which three friends skydived in Spain, every working professional would dream of spending his spendable income in similar fashion.
Similarly, if there is a soap opera in which women sit at home all dressed up in jewelry and rich clothes, all day involved in gossiping, chattering, cooking, eating, attending kitty-parties, unfortunately, that is how housewives in real world have started visualizing themselves as. A woman is femininely beautiful only if she has long hair (Kajol before and after in kuch kuch hota hai), a woman fasts for her lover/husband (Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge) and this fast is the symbol of the strength of her love for him, husbands get beautiful gifts for their wives in return for her fasting (almost all Ekta kapoor’s sic serials), a womanhood is incomplete without her giving birth to a child (and not by adopting), and so on.
The reel-world has taken over the logical meaningful real world. Does fasting for someone actually represent your love for him/her? And if it really does, why would you expect any return from that person? Karva chauth is not about fasting or praying any more, it is only a symbol of commercialized materialistic manifestation of a tradition which has completely lost its meaning, its beauty.
The housewives of earlier generations were managers of a complex household system, with responsibilities as grand and challenging as those handled at the business front. From managing home budget, being resourceful at the time of scarcity, developing foolproof recycling system (for long-lasting goods or perishable eatables), administrating health and care, women of that age were managerial gurus. On the other hand, the housewives today find themselves victimized, their position being shrunk to heavy adorned dolls who can only gossip, eat and cook. Nowadays, the strong women are projected to be the ones who work outside of the boundaries of the home, who wear short clothes and break the rules (Rani Mukherjee smoking in No one killed Jessica). Thanks to the stereotyped, non-creative, banality in Bollywood and TV story theme, the housewives today are caught up in a miserable state of mind because of which they can’t even take control of their own lives or health issues, forget about becoming a leader at home front! (I will not count Lunchbox here. In terms of gross collection it did in India, it can’t be even considered in mainstream movies).
Our generation which had a stable financial platform already built for them to reach a much higher cultural space is now caught up in materialistic, cosmetic and commercialized version of festivals and traditions and is living in a value system which has no meaning, no logic, and no belief around it.
The next generation which will be born or is being born in this culture will grow up to curse the Bollywood and TV’s Big Boss(s) who killed whatever morally good there ever was.