No one can deny that Indian television has lost its charm and the major reason behind it are the unlimited saas-bahu dramas. But in the midst of saas bahu dramas, where bahus adorn kilos of jewelery, and saasu maas are busy scheming, we had a heartwarming show – Saans! Saans was a simple show that initiated the conversation about the actual issues that plague the lives of everyday Indian women.
In 1998, an unconventional show captured the attention of Indian families and presented them with an immense opportunity of watching quality content in the midst of mediocre shows. Saans focuses on the life of Priya and her challenges.
Written and directed by Neena Gupta, Saans starts with the glimpse of Priya’s perfect life. Married to a loving husband Gautam, Priya has two kids, Akul and Mithi.
But, as the show progresses, it is revealed how Priya’s life is far from perfect. With every episode, the cracks within the family are revealed. And, things take a really ugly turn when Manisha enters their lives.
While Manisha is a young, attractive and ambitious woman, Priya is a stay-at-home mother with no career ambitions. Like many married women, she sacrificed herself to the patriarchal mindset. She gave up on her dreams to make sure her husband and kids had the best life possible.
The show is based on “35+ educated women”, whom Neena Gupta calls a “dead” generation. “They have lost their passion for love, sex and joy and don’t know where they’re headed,” she was quoted as saying.
And, as Gautam falls for Manisha, he walks out on his family, leaving Priya and the kids alone. What follows next is what makes the program different from the rest of the regressive shows.
Priya, finally shatters the shell of the typical Indian wife and strives hard to claim her life back. She doesn’t make schemes to win back her husband, nor does she label the other woman as a vamp, who destroyed her family. Rather, she strives hard to handle her challenges – the emotional turmoil of an abandoned wife and the financial crisis.
And, as the show progresses, Priya turns into this brave, courageous and independent soul. She finds herself a job and provides emotional comfort to her young children. She also gets used to a life without her husband, Gautam. On the other hand, Manisha makes Gautam’s life so tough that he contemplates going back to Priya.
Gautam starts getting involved with his family that he left behind. His increasing closeness with his family leaves Manisha so much insecure that she tries everything to keep Gautam on her side.
While Priya moves forward in life with a sense of pride, both Manisha and Gautam bear the guilt and shame of destroying a family.
How the makers managed to create a balanced yet awkward relationship between Priya and Manisha is commendable. The most powerful scene is when Priya feels empathy for Manisha as Gautam comes knocking at her door. At that moment, Priya realizes that Manisha also fell into the same patriarchal pit which she had found herself in when Gautam left.
In the midst of mediocre saas-bahu drama, this show was applauded for its sensible take on complex relationships. While saas-bahu dramas focused on family politics and one woman pulling another woman down, Saans was about a woman finding her courage, self-respect and confidence. While saas bahu dramas promoted women’s identity as someone’s wife or mother, Saans showed a woman stepping out of her husband’s shadow to build her own identity.
In case you haven’t watched it, please give it a try. We are sure, you won’t be disappointed!
*All images are screengrab from Saans