Sony TV’s Pehredaar Piya Ki is the eye of the storm…

Shows are made, show are pulled off. Out of multitude that comes out of the factory, few stand out, based on content merit. However, sometimes due to a stroke of luck, a show manages to scribble its name – if not embossed with honour- in the annals for not so meritorious reasons.

Pehredaar Piya Ki commissioned by Sony Entertainment Television to production house Shashi Sumeet Mittal Productions is one such entity which has caught audience’s imagination not for its hypnotic screen display, but ‘so called’ heinous, horrendous thematic blunder.

Its core forms the tugging of hearts between a grown up woman and a 10 year old kid. The promotional posters depicted the kid putting vermillion on the woman’s forehead, a sacrilegious sight enough to draw wrath of the value-norm-convention ridden society.

The show is currently on air, and makes waves for its conceptual dispute rather than entertainment value, much to the chagrin of the makers.

In the court of media, the deciding net are the readers, on one side are those who are offended and howl against the endeavour and on the other are its custodians (producers, channel, cast) who keep defending the act.

After many exchange of volleys, the issue remains a pertinent yet miasmatic one.

Let’s cut deeper into the skin here. To begin with, Indian television is meant to entertain and is not the epitome of empowerment. It’s a business which aims to give its advertisers best possible ad slots. Over the years, the content in general has found solace in a corner cushioned with warped reality, regress and voyeuristic veneer. The scenario is a double edged sword.

The makers of Pehredaar, in all possibility, would have painted a picture wherein the bankable pointers would have been novelty, emotional connect between a grown up and a kid and of course, the evolving equation with passing time. However they terribly missed weighing the pros & cons of the child marriage angle and its repercussions in the current society which has become a boiling pot when it comes to such issues. Pehredaar now is a fishbone stuck in the throat.

Here, it is needed to be mentioned that Shashi Sumeet as a production house and individuals (have known them for many years) are traditionalists and would never, in wildest dreams, ponder to weave a show on ‘bold’ lines. Pehredaar, on paper, the concept might read puerile with a tinge of purity, yet in execution it takes the shape of detest. It’s a classic case of plans gone wrong, thanks to a yawning chasm between screenplay and storytelling.

Sumeet Mittal, a man of dignity and repute, has reached out to people and time & again has clarified his stance on the subject. His last comment was an appeal to all to watch and criticize, not walk the herd lane.

Well, we did some merit in his statement.

In this social media age when voicing out and giving opinions have become habitual, Pehredaar too is facing the heat pertaining to a signature campaign (on change.org.) which demands its immediate closure. The numbers are not beefy enough to rattle the makers, yet it has earned support from citizens and some fraternity members, making necessary impact.

However, when we asked around (we don’t want to reveal names) we figured that some of the campaigners joined in due to word of mouth pull or “they felt so”. We wonder how many actually have gone on to watch the show and then decided to protest. Secondly, the protest demands CINTAA to ban the show. CINTAA is an actors’ body and doesn’t really have the authority to take any such decision, which reflects that the protest has its basic research/foundation amiss.

There is also chatter on how Indians would readily watch objectionable content doled out in notional popular international shows like Game of Thrones but have issues with a desi effort. The very fraternity members who sniff dirt in Pehredaar are an integral part of its DNA, equally responsible for the state of affair as brethren, making the argument a tad paradoxical.

Times are changing and it’s good that in today’s digital age opinions on a TV show can rattle the power centers out of comfort zones. This is also indicative of the future happenings where content on any platform has to be accounted for, keeping in mind socio economic political sentiments.

It is agreeable that the makers slipped in its planning and ended up being myopic. The protesters, if serious, need to organize better and reach out to the right governing bodies rather than merely resorting to social media clamour. The latest buzz is that Smriti Irani (yes, the ‘Kyunki’ queen of television) has taken note of the ban plea and written to Broadcasting Content Complaints Council (BCCC) seeking immediate action (only time will tell). Well, Kyunki back in time was indeed progressive, we must say (**sigh**)

Nevertheless, it’s an interesting case study and is also a fact that it has given rise to new pehredaars, watchdogs, and vigilantes of television content. Is the Dark Knight listening?

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