Pehredaar Piya Ki has been under fire ever since the first trailer of the show came out. The series which outlines the life of Diya, an adult who is required to marry a 9-year-old boy named Ratan, has time and again been accused of glorifying child marriage and paedophilia- because it does. While the naysayers haven’t vanished now that the series has taken its course, there has been a new cult rising which argues a defense for the show. These pehredaars of Pehredaar Piya Ki see it as a beautiful and pure love story and that is exactly the kind of thing that should not have happened.
They are not the only ones though. In a recent interview the actress who plays the female protagonist, Tejasswi Prakash, blasted the “judgmental” haters as she drew a comparison between Pehredaar Piya Ki and Game of Thrones. “It also happened in ‘Game Of Thrones’… People love ‘Game Of Thrones’ and if same thing happens in ‘Pehredaar Piya Ki’, then it’s an issue,” she had said.
Wait. WHAT? Game of Thrones is set in the medieval times plus it is listed as a fantasy drama. Pehredaar Piya Ki, on the other hand, is not.
If we can use stories like GoT to justify actions of today then please, by all means… Bring out shows like Zee TV’s biographical drama Jhansi Ki Rani, which is based on the life of Rani Lakshmi Bai who marries a much older man named Gangadhar Rao in the 19th century! Much like Jhansi Ki Rani, Game of Thrones highlights the reality of an era it has been set in.
Even so, nothing about Game of Thrones‘ homicidal, sinful and fire-frenzy characters seems ideal, just as the wedding of Margaery Tyrell and her considerably younger husband Tommen Baratheon wasn’t. Theirs wasn’t a ‘pure union’ as PPK claims to portray. And therein lies the difference.
There is also a lot of violence and gore depicted on the show but none of it is made to look desirable or considered normal even in that era. That is an issue that Pehredaar Piya Ki remains completely oblivious to.
The problem with Pehredaar Piya Ki remains that their characters are very real. They exist, unlike the ones in the fantasy drama Game of Thrones. And the depiction of their illegal actions in a rose-tinted, positive light is abhorrent, to say the least. For it attempts to legitimise paedophilia in society through the medium of entertainment.
There have been shows like Balika Vadhu too which also centred on the theme of child marriage. However, the show had always condemned it, making it look like the social evil that it is. That level of sensitivity is unreservedly absent in Pehredaar Piya Ki. And no, Tejasswi, we are not “judging a book by its cover.” By simply showing that the character isn’t a creepy sexual predator, does not make it acceptable.
Why are we so worked up you ask? Well, ever since people have started watching the show, the justifications on behalf of the show’s theme of child marriage (and paedophilia) have shot up. Anyone can claim that “there is nothing wrong” in what they have shown but, there’s a thing called sub-text that some people may be too blind to see.
Tejasswi Prakash claims she doesn’t visit a lot of social media websites and hence, is unaware of these comments. “I just get my script, go on the set and I perform,” she claims, and that the show is “not trying to teach you anything.”
Again: WHAT? Are you saying that as influencers of one of the widest pan-India audiences, artists do not have a certain ethical responsibility?
To her, the show is “progressive” because her character Diya is a “strong character who is able to take decisions at the age of 18.” But when was this ever about the girl? Weren’t we talking about the effects of such a relationship and marriage on the child in question? Or the effect of the normalisation of such relationships on victims of child molestation and sexual abuse? Sexual assault isn’t limited to women, you know.
The character of Ratan is not even old enough to completely understand the concept of marriage let alone make choices about it. The portrayal of a strong female doesn’t mean reversing the archaic gender norms.
In India, if the bride is under the age of 18 and the groom is under the age of 21, it is illegal for the couple to wed. However, not only is Pehredaar Piya Ki mocking the law by depicting a perfectly happy child marriage, the show makes it seem as though it is okay for a woman to be romantically involved with a minor and frankly, this needs to stop.
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