There are many types of mothers-in-law (saas) on TV. Some are mean, evil, manipulative or selfish, while others have managed to provide genuine support to their on-screen daughters-in-law (bahu). But there’s no denying that the saas is a crucial character a daily soap can’t do without.
It was the iconic show, Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, that started the trend. The rivalry between Savita and Tulsi made history and became a reference point for future TV shows and their plots.
Then we have Bhabho in Diya Aur Baati Hum, which is currently on air. In the show, the saas wants her bahu (Sandhya) to be homely and work towards keeping the family together. She challenges her time and again. And though the latter emerges victorious, she relinquishes her victory to uphold her saas’s honour.
Also, the golden rule on the telly is that the saas has to try and change her bahu. She’d want her modern bahu to be homely and dutiful as is the case in Chhanchhan and Sapne Suhane Ladakpan Ke. And even though Gayatri is a sweet talker in Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai, it doesn’t stop her from taunting or nagging Akshara to do her bidding.
Saraswatichandra used the stepmother syndrome (stepmoms are supposed to be evil by default) to the hilt. And every now and then, the supportive saas emerges as well, like in Sasuraal Genda Phool or Qubool Hai.
Either way, the saas and her bahu are here to stay. It is a foolproof formula that has worked for TV channels and one that they aren’t willing to give up on anytime soon. And we don’t mind them as well, so long as they keep inventing new characteristics instead of rehashing ones we have already seen.