For a while now, people have been telling me that the Hindi language TV show Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi (Because The Mother-In-Law Was Once The Daughter-In-Law), which ran 8 seasons for a total of 1,830 episodes was the highest rated scripted television show in Indian history.
Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi is the journey of a middle-class girl Tulsi Virani who marries into a rich Gujaratijoint family and becomes the ideal wife, daughter-in-law, mother, mother-in-law, grandmother and grandmother-in-law, solving all the intricate problems within the family and never once deterring from the path of righteousness.
And here are some plot points along with some editorializing by the Wikipedia contributors:
[The character of] Tulsi, has become synonymous to greatness. She accepted her husband’s illegitimate son, killed her own evil son, and fought against all odds to protect the Virani family.
It registered the highest rating in the history of Asian Television when Mihir Virani returned home alive on public demand after being ‘killed’ in an accident.
[The Evil Miranda] is a bane for the Virani family. Her illegitimate relation with Mihir, lying to son Karan and then trying to come back took negative female characters to new heights.
The show’s opening credits and theme song:
That’s all nice, but what does it mean to be the most popular scripted TV show in India, a country of 1.1 Billion people? I assumed that it meant viewship in the hundreds of millions. Not so.
Of India’s 1.1B people, 231 million have access to TV. Of those 231 Million, 5.4 million watched the finale. For comparison, 67.3 million Indians watched the last India-Pakistan cricket match and 18.3 million Americans watch Modern Family.
More than anything, I think this example shows how immature the Indian television programming market is.