How we wish they hadn’t tried defending the show, it ultimately backfired!
‘Pehredaar Piya Ki’ has received a barrage of flak. So much that the producers Shashi Mittal and Sumeet Mittal were pushed into holding a press conference just to address the issues and questions everyone had. But, it is not what you expect! Under the garb of giving us a good justification for the alarming content they put out, the producers sat through a candid question-answer round, and we have all the answers, but not really.
We wondered if the backlash is the reason audiences are drawn to the show with curiosity or with contempt to look down upon ‘regressive Indian TV’. But, Shashi (co-producer and writer) stands adamant that the audience critiquing the show isn’t the one that has watched the show and that social medias rumours are to blame. We go to the conference with an open mind, ready to get some answers and the only ones we got are in-arguably irrelevant and in total dismissal of the accusations against the show.
We are shown a dramatic trailer with Piya agreeing to protect Ratan after a father-figure in her life asks her to honour his wishes and marry his 9 year old son who’s life is in danger. Here’s the questions that popped up and the supposed answers to them straight from the horse’s mouth-
Q: In a time when TV is trying hard to put in progressive shows, why would you opt for a concept that drags us years back?
A: How is it regressive to do something good? To sacrifice your youth to protect an orphan? I just don’t get it. Koi marte hue aadmi ka bhala kar raha hai aur aap yaha baithe usse question thodi kar sakte hai. In our country there’s stories of Rani Karnavati sending a rakhi to Humayun because she needed his protection, there were so many Kings making decisions like that in crisis. Note: she compares the marriage to a brother-sister relationship, disregarding the context.
Q: That was a brother-sister relation and while history must have innumerable examples we are talking about a bond that is too shocking for the viewers. And, because of the way an audience responds to content on TV, don’t you think through that lens you’re being socially irresponsible?
A: How is saving a life socially irresponsible?
Q: Ofcourse, you may have ways to justify everything later and things will look up (we say this with a pinch of salt) but, we know people who have watched 14 episodes and then complained. When you see something like stalking and all the snippets doing the rounds, don’t you think it will still come across as creepy?
A: No i don’t think its very shocking. Humne aisi koi baat nahi batayi hai jo bacho ko already nahi pata.
At this point we really want to do a double take and ask whether we’re talking about the same thing. The producer literally normalized the marriage of a 9 year old to an 18 year by pretending that its as simple as a regular marriage discussion in a household with kids around. She went on to say that “har ghar mein suhaag raat se pehle kamra sajaya jaata hai so why is it wrong if its happening here?”. She asks that should we stop decorating marital beds just because children are around? Needless to say, we are left gawking at the statement.
Just when we thought we’re through, the show falls deeper into decadence courtesy, the producer. She goes on to make a tall claim- “We’re from a traditional family! We don’t show anything bad on TV, no adult content”. Here it becomes clear what their stance on regression is. Prompted by the audience at the conference, the producer lashes out demanding if anyone has seen the honeymoon scene and the answer is a meek “err…I’d rather not”. We go on screening, searching for meaning and something that is different from the general oblivious air the two had around them. They had shut themselves from an abject reality that is constantly reacting to the stories they see on screen. Their denials and dismissals only further prove the fact that TV doesn’t care what it serves. This hampers the reputation of a channel that is putting out progressive shows and is pushing the boundary to keep up with a smarter audience that sees through loopholes.
What Pehredaar Piya Ki refuses to realize is our cultural context barely allows the benefit of doubt. This was highlighted when the actress Tejasswi Prakash Wayangankar went on to defend the show by using a Game of Thrones reference wondering why one didn’t bat an eyelash when Tommen and Margery got married. Again, she speaks in disregard of an audience full of kids joining their parents over dinner and picking up on disturbing behavior.
We’ll have another press conference for that (they joked), for a pair muddled in controversy, the producer couple were pretty calm. They knew what to say and regardless of what the questions were, they had the same answers. And, we’re left to wonder if they’re sure about what they’re doing.