How an online petition got the regressive TV serial ‘Pehredaar Piya Ki’ kicked out of prime time slot

By Ambika Sharma 

Recently I received a message on my Whatsapp, a pretty angry one asking me to sign a petition against a serial called ‘Pehredaar Piya Ki’ an acquaintance had sent it to me. I usually ignore such messages and leave it to be looked at later when I am considerably free unless I already know about it. 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. 
This is the on going petition that was sent to me.

A still from the serial ‘Pehredaar Piya Ki’ which revolves around circumstances of a child marriage

The show might get banned and be taken off air soon, since the Information and Broadcast Minister of India, Smriti Irani (who has also worked in the TV industry herself) 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 serial was getting. Some rational points were made while some others were plain angry, however not one of them had actually watched the serial.
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 if it wasn’t the way people were viewing it. It looked a clear case of lemming to me.
I then got into a discussion with a few of my very close friends, people I call rational people in my life. Surprisingly they were angry on the serial too, for its content. But as usual I was intending to counter attack to get deeper into a discussion so that I could get to the root of this hatred. So we discussed and fought for a few days, for not everyone is free at the same time.
The following are the highlights to our arguments and counter arguments.
The content is very regressive

‘Pehredaar Piya Ki’ attempts to show a one-sided romance between a child and an adult woman

I completely agree and I don’t intent do advocate for child marriage be it a nine year old girl or a nine year old boy. The whole story of this serial 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 that he takes and that is how the name ‘Peheredar Piya Ki’ comes from.
Whatever the reason, it just does not justify a nine-year-old boy getting married to an adult woman in her twenties.
However, I also want to highlight the fact that isn’t most of our TV content regressive? Most of the famous serials, famous in terms of their TRP ratings that most families watch are regressive.
Let me remind you of a few of them. Remember ’Roli’ being married off when she was just a kid in the serial ‘Sasural Simar ka’ to Siddhanth, who was the older brother of Roli’s older sister ‘Simar’s’ husband ‘Prem’. It perhaps did not look that bad because ‘Roli’ did not look her age, she looked older thanks to her amazing height and acting. ‘Sasural Simar ka’ has to be my most favourite on this topic for it simply had the crappiest content from the very beginning and later it got so crappy that we couldn’t even laugh it off.
Like how ‘Simar’ the protagonist turns into a fly and all it got was some meme from people all over. Before that the serial had an ‘Iccha Dhari Nagin’ who played an important role and it went on for a couple of months. There was this one time how ‘Roli’ suddenly dies and then they manage to find another girl who looks exactly like ‘Roli’ (I wonder if finding identical twins who are not born in the same family are so easy, I wish I could find mine just like that someday. It will be so cool to have a sister who looks like me from another mother and let me also add father).
Let me spare this serial, I can actually go on here but I’ll ask you’ll if you remember how many times did ‘Mihir’ from the very famous ‘Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi’ die and then even come back? 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 the serial ‘Qubool hai’ for gaining more TRPs? 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 serials that did well for its TRP’s despite having regressive content – Kumkum Bhgaya, Naagin, Ye hai Mohabtein, Tashan-e-ishq, Qubool Hai and many more.
So, if we ask for a ban on this serial for being regressive, we must ask for all these kind of serials to be banned, not just one. But won’t that have our channels go blank for a couple of days? According to me, this serial is facing such backlash only because it is regressive in terms of sexism.
However in my opinion unlike the other serials that started off well, with a 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? In a country that gives importance to pre conceived notion about sex and relationships, this concept is bound to irk people.
We don’t care if, the content writer was desperate to come up with something new that was not done in any serials before, and they went too far with this one in search of something novel. 
The actor compared it with ‘THE GAME OF THRONES’

A still from ‘Pehredaar Piya Ki’

Being a massive fan of the series this irked me as well, GOT is a religion not just a tv series that is based on awesome books. 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 and the sex scene between them.
Though they are older in the book, but they play characters of 9-year-old boy and a 17-year-old girl.
GOT shows life of kings and queens, they do a lot of irrational things to stay in politics, but so is this show about a royal family. We never had issues with incest, between Cersei Lannister and Jaime Lannister. We did not even mind the girls who enacted as prostitutes so openly showing off their naked bodies. But we don’t like the fact that a nine-year-old boy is married off to an older girl. 
How can the parents of the kid who plays Prince Ratan Sing let him play the role?
Perhaps just very much 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, for the child never got to see the end result.
What if this serial 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 dint bump into it at prime time when they like to sit in the TV room with their family and browse it. Also if it is given an ‘A’ rating so that their kids would also not bump into it they wouldn’t care about it being on or off air. In fact we might not even mind it running on if they dint show the relationship between the two and awkward scenes between them.
Summary of this serial that I understand so far

A still from ‘Pehredaar Piya Ki’

This story is of a royal family who are king and queen of their palace that also doubles up as a posh seven star hotel. It is a pretty lucrative business. Due to which they do have some relatives who want to wipe out this family of three so that they can enjoy the profits of this business to themselves.The young nine-year-old prince is infatuated towards is his father’s best friend’s daughter, who is older than him and a good-hearted loving girl.
Is it not common for boys that age to have a crush on someone older, someone they admire? 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 it means to marry someone? It is just that it is always remains a secret and that the boy never confesses to anyone. Haven’t we seen it in our movies as well, ‘Mera Naam Joker’ for instance?
This boy plays a role of a prince, aren’t royals used to getting their way with everything? Perhaps that is why he has the guts to mention his wish to marry an older girl. She is engaged soon to be married to a boy she loves, this totally reminds me of the famous film ‘Mera Naam Joker’ again. In the serial, the king who plays the father of Prince Ratan Singh (the nine-year-old boy) clearly mentions it 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, like most parents of this generation wouldn’t. There in an incidence where Diya who loves this kid like we all love some of sweet ones that belong to our parents best friends she saves this kids life putting hers in danger.The parents are thankful 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 levelheaded parent would. But the girl agrees to marry the boy to protect him when she hears about it all.  
Hence they get married.

The child marriage still from ‘Pehredaar Piya Ki’

The evil relatives give her a tough time and try to make her life miserable. They even set up a suhagrat as a prank to make her more uncomfortable in this awkward. This scene peeved people more. Prince Ratan Singh is way too fond of her and loves her like a puppy loves his owner.
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.
This article might not get as many supporters for now they might want to reconsider signing petitions without much knowledge.
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 who are still married off to older men in Indian villages that needs more attention and immediate action over a TV serial that will soon fade off from our minds whether it gets banned or not.


The blog was originally published on Masala Magazine

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