Just when we thought that the content on Indian Television couldn’t get any worse, we are all proven wrong as it hits a record low. “Pehredaar Piya Ki” premiered on 17th July 2017 and it is a show about a 19-year-old woman named Diya (Tejasswi Prakash) who gets married to a 9-year-old prince Ratan Singh, supposedly to guard him against harm. Yes, we are not making this up.
The show is just two episodes old, but what I could see from those episodes – creeped me out. While the story didn’t start with them already married, it was well on its way there on the fast track. The first episode itself showed us the 9-year-old kid following the woman around, clicking pictures of her and trying to impress her by stalking her. The trope of following a woman around, stalking her in order to impress her isn’t okay when it’s a grown man. And it definitely isn’t okay with a kid doing it, no matter what the show would have us believe. Another trope that is prevalent in Indian Television is that of the heroine tripping on air and falling in the hero’s arm. And we were introduced to this trope very early on in this show as Ratan saves her from falling as she trips backwards because of a cockroach.
￼While I have no problem with that, he can help her. It’s understandable. What I do have a problem with them trying to romanticise that.
Even when the first promo of the show aired – there was a desperate attempt to show romance between the two. The promo showed the boy filling the woman’s maang with sindoor as she watches with teary eyes that seem to convey her feelings of love. This is not okay. This type of regressive content broadcasting on prime time television is not okay. Millions of people will watch this and not realise how wrong this is. Kids always have crushes on someone much older than them. I did. It’s normal. What’s not normal is an adult reciprocating the feelings of a 9-year-old kid. While they might not show the desire of sexual relations between the two, even to romanticise this sort of relationship is just some weird form of paedophilia. According to Wikipedia, “Paedophilia is a psychiatric disorder in which an adult or older adolescent experience a primary or exclusive sexual attraction to prepubescent children.” I don’t know whether they will show sexual desires while he is still a kid, but they sure are emphasising romantic feelings on the boy’s side as well as the woman’s side. The kid doesn’t know better, he is a “prepubescent child”, but the grown-ups should know better. And I’m not just talking about the grownups in the show, but also the grown-ups who decided to make this sort of show were a good idea.
If all this doesn’t convince someone how messed up this is, let’s see a reverse situation, shall we? If it were a 19-year-old man who was getting married to a 9-year-old girl, even if it was to protect her, would it still be okay? Would it still be okay to show that kind of content on national television? No, it wouldn’t be okay. It wouldn’t be okay to see a grown man filling a little girl’s maang with sindoor as they gaze at each other lovingly with romantic music in the background. We would all come out and say that it was creepy, gross and disturbing. If that isn’t okay, then how are people supposed to be okay with what they are showing now?
No matter how much the show would like to normalise this, the fact of the matter is – it’s not. It’s not normal and it’s not okay. And we as an audience shouldn’t be okay with this. I don’t understand how this concept came to be and how it was accepted by the channel. In a race to show something different, showing something completely unacceptable and romanticising it. This channel is making a big mistake. If they absolutely had to show something like this, it would have made more sense if they could show this for exactly what it is–paedophilia. Because of as much as they want to show this as the norm, it is not. It is not okay for a grown woman to have romantic feelings for a 9-year-old kid. And if the channel wanted to show a love story of age difference with an older woman, the least they could have done is made both the parties of legal age. That could have been a beautiful love story, to see a 20 something man fall in love with a much older woman. That was acceptable because there is nothing illegal and immoral about that. Making a romantic story about a 9-year-old and a 19-year-old is immoral.
The production houses and channels seem to think that the audience has questionable intelligence and that the audience will accept whatever is being shoved down their throats. While it’s true some of us are not as stupid as the producers want us to be, the problem is the majority of the audience will still watch this because that’s the demography of the audience that this show is made for. And it’s business. Channels will continue to make this kind of content as long as it gets them the numbers and the money.
And the thing is, we can show our disappointment with this kind of shows all we want, but if the majority of the audience continues to watch, the channel and the producers won’t care that this is wrong, as long as they continue to get the money that they want from this.
So, the question is how much are we as the audience willing to gloss over and forget?