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 We live in the saddest era of Indian TV channels. It is a matter of shame how except for a few handfull of shows Indian TV serials focus on misogynist and illogical content. Sadly, the Indian TV shows of the 80s and 90s were famous for their thought-provoking content. During that golden era, Indian TV produced several fictional shows that were based on social, political, and gender-based issues. What made these TV serials extra special was their strong and powerful female leads, who had their own story.

Here are some of these strong female characters from old Indian TV serials to remind you how much junk our current TV shows are!

Image Credit: DD National and Star Plus

1. Pooja in Kora Kagaz

(Played by Renuka Shahane)

Pooja is a newly-married bride who has been abandoned by her husband on their wedding night. Broken and distraught, she makes an inspiring attempt to start a new life with support from her brother-in-law. With romance kindling between them, Pooja’s husband makes a comeback putting her in a moral dilemma. Through Pooja’s character, the show attempts to portray the dilemma and trials that Indian women face in our patriarchal society. It also stresses one very important aspect how women are rarely in charge of their lives in a male-dominated society.

2. Shanti in Shanti

(Played by Mandira Bedi)

Starring Mandira Bedi in the protagonist role, Shanti is an aspiring journalist who tries to make it in a world dominated by men. But, what made it so extremely engaging was its nuanced portrayal of a woman who faces challenges head-on, both in her personal and professional life. In case you haven’t watched it yet, with a good story and strong characters, this one is a must-watch.

3. Pragati in Aurat

(Played by Mandira Bedi)

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Pragati, who is a middle-class woman, fights for her right to education. How she rebels against her family to become a successful lawyer instead of getting married is the main plot. But the show not only focuses on her battle, it also captures other inspiring female characters who fight their personal battles, and eventually emerge victorious.

4. Svetlana in Swabhimaan

(Played by Kitu Gidwani)

Swaabhimaan divulges the story of a woman – Svetlana – who finds herself in a battle where there are no real winners. Insecurity, suspicion and fear threaten to erode her vivacious spirit as she struggles to come to terms with her position – that of a pampered mistress whose tycoon patron Keshav Malhotra (Naasir Abdulah) dies leaving her to cope with the ugly aftermath of the tragedy: inheritance wars, succession rights, property entanglements, petty quarrels and above all, the emotional turmoil that threatens to destroy her. As the story progresses, she evolves from an insecure woman into a strong, confident woman, who takes charge of her life.

5. Priya in Saans

(Played by Neena Gupta)

Focusing on the rare topic of infidelity, the show revolves around Priya and her marriage. Priya, who is a happily married woman who finds herself in a soup after her husband walks out on his family for another woman Manisha (Kavita Kapoor). What left many of us so inspired was the fact that rather than trying to win him back, she tries to take charge of the situation and turn her life around. Unlike many other shows on infidelity, how the show doesn’t villianize the other woman also makes you realize how much great it was! The show not only empathises with Priya but also with Manisha who is as much a victim of patriarchy and misogyny as Priya!


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