BLOG: Pehredaar Piya Ki is Regressive, But is The Outrage Justified?

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Recently I received a message on my whatsapp, a pretty angry one asking me to sign a petition against a show called Pehredaar Piya Ki. I usually ignore such messages but to my surprise another friend sent me the link to the same petition with a similar angry message and it got me thinking two things: 1) Publicity stunt and 2) lemming.

The show might get banned and be taken off air soon, since the Information and Broadcast Minister of India, Smriti Irani (who has worked in this industry) has asked for an immediate enquiry on the content of the show.

I decided to research about it. Meanwhile I even decided to take an opinion from my friends on a few of my Whatsapp groups about it. I was surprised to see the hatred this show was getting. Some rational points were made while some were plain angry, however not one of them had actually watched the show.

There were a few clips that were sent to me when I was counter attacking their comments, but what I realised was no one had actually gone beyond those few clips and images to see what the show was all about. It looked a clear case of being a copycat to me.

I then got into a discussion with a few of my close ‘rational’ friends. Surprisingly they were angry about the show too. But as usual I decided to look at the other side to get a more balanced viewpoint. The following are the highlights to our arguments and counter arguments

ARGUMENT: The content is very regressive

I agree and I don’t intend to advocate child marriage, be it a nine-year-old girl or boy. The plot is based on the fact that the protagonist Diya marries the little boy Prince Ratan Singh to protect him from his evil relatives. Even if they still manage to kill him to acquire his business they don’t get it, she does. However after marriage, he has her by his side to protect him at every step and that is how the title Peheredar Piya ki comes from. Whatever the reason, it just does not justify a 9-year-old boy getting married.

However, isn’t most of our TV content regressive? Most shows that have high TRPs, are regressive. Let me remind you of a few of them. Remember Roli being married off when she was just a kid in Sasural Simar ka to Siddhanth, the elder brother of Roli’s sister Simar’s’ husband ‘Prem’. It perhaps did not look that bad because Roli did not look her age, she looked older. Sasural Simar Ka has to be my most favourite on this topic for it simply had the worst content right from the beginning and later it got so bad that we couldn’t even laugh it off. On one occasion, Simar the protagonist turns into a fly! Before that the show had an Iccha Dhari Nagin who played an important role and it went on for a couple of months. There was this one time when Roli suddenly dies and then they manage to find another girl who looks exactly like Roli!

Let me spare this show, but I’ll ask you’ll if you remember how many times Mihir from the very famous Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi dies and then returns? Or how Iccha and Tapasya of Uttaran kept exchanging husbands and also having kids with almost each of them? And how they introduced a witch in Qubool Hai for gaining more TRP’s! How domestic violence was shown without any reluctance in Doli Arhaano Ki? This list can go on, however I will just point out a few more names of the shows that did well for its TRPs despite having regressive content – Kukum Bhagya, Naagin, Ye hai Mohabtein, Tashan-e-ishq, Qubool Hai and many more.

So if we ask for a ban on this show for being regressive, we must ask for all other shows to be banned as well. But won’t that have our channels go blank for a couple of days? According to me, this show is facing such backlash only because it is regressive in terms of sexism. However in my opinion unlike other shows that started off well, with an interesting plot and then followed suit with regressive content, this one got on to the wrong foot with its promos itself. Who cares if it gets really progressive later? We don’t care if, the content writer was desperate to come up with something new that was not done before, and thus went too far with this one in search of something novel.

ARGUMENT 2: The actor compared it with ‘THE GAME OF THRONES

Being a massive fan of the series this irked me as well, GOT is a religion not just a TV show! I can justify every scene, every plot that the series has had so far. Even when I think rationally about Tommen Baratheon and Margaery Tyrell’s wedding scene… though they are older in the book, but they play characters of 9-year-old boy and a 17-year-old girl. GOT shows lives of kings and queens, they do a lot of irrational things to stay in politics, but so does Pehredar Piya Ki and it is about a royal family. We never had issues with the inappropriate relationship between Cersei Lannister and Jaime Lannister. But we don’t like the fact that a 9-year-old boy is married off to an older girl.

ARGUMENT 3: How can the parents of the kid who plays Prince Ratan Sing let him play the role?

Perhaps just the way parents of kids who play a role in horror movies do! I remember reading an interview where the director or the parent had said that the child actor did not even know that she was acting in a horror film as the child never got to see the end result.

ARGUMENT 4: What if this show is given an ‘A’ rating and is taken off prime time would you still want to ban it?

Most of my friends agreed if they didn’t bump into it at prime time when they like to sit in the TV room with their family and browse it, they wouldn’t watch it. Also if it is given an ‘A’ rating so that their kids would also not watch it, they wouldn’t care about it being on or off air. In fact we might not even mind it being telecast if they didn’t show awkward scenes between the leads.

Summary of show

This story is of a royal family who run a palace that also doubles up as a posh 5/7 star hotel. It is a pretty lucrative business which is why some relatives want to wipe out this family of three so that they can enjoy the profits. The young 9-year-old prince is infatuated with his father’s best friend’s daughter, who is older than him. Is it not common for boys that age to have a crush on someone older? In most cases isn’t it their teacher who their first love is? Don’t most boys want to marry their teacher even if they don’t understand what marriage is? Haven’t we seen it in our movies as well, Mera Naam Joker for instance? This boy plays a role of a prince, and royals are used to getting their way with everything. Perhaps that is why he has the guts to mention his wish to marry an older girl.

In the show the king who plays the father of Prince Ratan Singh clearly mentions to his son that marriage is permitted only after the age of 21 for boys and 18 for girls.

After the sensible parents don’t pay heed to the little boy’s infatuation, there in an incident where Diya saves this kid’s life putting hers in danger. His parents are grateful to her and they also realise that she can be trusted.

The king and a queen meet with an accident, the queen dies and the King who worries for his son, remembers that his son is fond of Diya and might even listen to her if she is left in charge. The boy would need protection after the father passes away. He asks for her to marry his boy but her father does not agree. Of course no level-headed parent would. But the girl agrees to marry the boy to protect him when she hears the entire story. Hence they get married.

Prince Ratan Singh is way too fond of her but Diya hasn’t once fantasized about the boy or thought of him in a way a wife does about her husband. She merely acts like his nanny or older sister (this might sound wrong but I hope you get the feel), but the name of their relationship is different.

I’ll leave you with a thought. Though this is an act of fiction, there are young girls who are as young as this boy that are still married off to older men in Indian villages that needs more attention and immediate action than a TV show that will soon fade off from our minds whether it gets banned or not.

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