ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

Television Serials and Traumatic Triggers: Exploring ruptured engagement with narrative of Prime-time Hindi Language serials.


Lad Mita - Middlesex University, Media, London, United Kingdom


51- The Digital Turn in South Asian Television Studies


 Ien Ang argued that soap operas offer their viewers ‘emotional realism’ (Ang, 1985:45), in that the audience can relate to the emotion(s) portrayed by the characters within the programme, while the situation which give rise to such emotions may not be relatable. Through her ethnographic study of Indian women television viewers, Purnima Mankekar (1999) found that it was not only the emotions in the scene but also the situation that triggered her participants to take a note of their own vulnerabilities and struggles as women in India. These concerns and anxieties ruptured the women’s viewing pleasure, by pulling them from the diegetic world of the serial, and leading them to think about their own circumstances. This paper builds on these studies by examining the responses of two Gujarati speaking, Indian Hindu diasporic women and their recollection of a scene from Jhansi Ki Rani (Zee TV, 2009 – 2011). I will examine the manner in which engagement can be ruptured for audiences through their responses. Further to this I also want to explore the spontaneity of the participants referring to the same scene without each other’s knowledge. This was not something I was able to focus on at the time of the interview. I will examine various possibilities as to why this scene stood out for the participants.