Can You Smell The Rot?

I've been disgusted with the screen grabs of a shitty soap opera currently being aired in India. - Pehredar Piya ki roughly translates as 'Guardian of my lover'. The protagonists in question are played by adult woman and 9-10 year old boy. In what can only be termed as mindfuck of recent times, the woman marries the boy. There is a now a petition doing the rounds to ban this perverse nonsense.

But I wanted to get to the root of this ugliness. Who is thinking of this shit? Who is writing this? Why did the boy's parents think this is an appropriate role for the child? On the whole, why do these production houses, actors, writers feel they have no responsibility?

The production house is run by a husband-wife duo - Sumeet and Shashi Mittal. The mission of Shashi Sumeet Productions Pvt Ltd is “to create quality content that enthrals and entertains audiences.” They have produced a number of popular soaps.

In an interview with the Scroll, Summet Mittal says -

"The boy is in love with the girl only because she is his protector. I don’t know why love is restricted only to a man and a woman. It is a weird thought."

When questioned about the core plot, what drives an 18-year-old woman (played by a 25-year-old) to marry a 10 year old boy, Sumeet terms it as "very brave" and the woman's "freedom of character" -

"In today’s generation, we see a young girl marrying a 40- year-old person and it is taken as a vow and her choice. The same way, Diya has made this choice out of certain circumstances, where she marries to protect the boy. That is very brave."

The idea apparently was proposed by his wife/partner Shashi. Wikipedia informs me the concept was then written out as a story by three women.

In an interview with the Hindustan Times, the leading lady, Tejaswi Prakash, defends the plot line saying -

"The show is about the maturity that a girl at that age shows to protect a boy."  

Tejaswi is confident that within 6 months the audience will "realise" the story is not controversial at all and will love the lead character. In another interview she expounds - 

           “I cannot deny the fact that a child is getting married in the show, so in a way it is                   child marriage, but that is not something we are promoting… The relationship cannot             be like child marriage as we both (characters) do not know the definition of love, nor             there is anything like romance on the show. We are not married in a romantic way,                we are just like friends,” she said.

She goes on to insist, "The show has new things to see that nobody has seen between a husband and a wife.”

In yet another interview, Sumeet condescends - "people have a tendency to judge things without fully understanding it" and goes on to add the story is about a "girl's freedom and girl's rights".

Indeed, it appears the storywriters and production house are convinced there is no other viable way of showcasing women’s rights and freedom.

Here's more good news. In an interview with India Today, Tejaswi "confirms  that there will also be a leap on the show, and that the romantic angle might be added post that. "There are couples with huge age differences in real life. Post leap, a romantic angle might be introduced."

Have you not barfed all over your keyboard yet? Well, here is the thing - Bollywood Life ran a poll asking their readers if this soap "deserved such a severe backlash". 70% responded saying people "over-reacted". 

And you are wondering why the number of perverts have increased in the country? 

The shocking thing is I'm not at all shocked or surprised at all. As a society, we have regressed reprehensibly. We have deluded ourselves to think literacy is same as being educated. We use our “education” to defend any perversity with vigour.  We think culture is something that exists in our clothes and appearance whilst our minds are sewers. The evidence is all around us – in the kind of literature, movies and tv shows that we consume insatiably.  The rot is evident in our interactions – speak out against any popular male hero and people will offer to rape you, call you a prostitute and threaten your life. Whenever you demand better quality in arts and literature, you a condemned as an ‘elitist’, ‘pseudo-intellectual’. Did not like the latest movie with the superstars? You bloody fool – the director has made the disclaimer – he did not want the movie to be an intellectual masterpiece. Yes, don’t be so arrogant and ask for basic character development that is so core to story-telling.  Don’t show-off. Shut up. Don’t hurt sentiments. Did not like the latest book by that popular author because the grammar was poor and the writing was lazy? You bloody convent-educated, English-speaking elitist. That author has four million followers. This author has dimples. The other author upholds Indian values. This other author has organic garden. You are nothing. You are ugly. Shut up.

Oh, how we revel in mediocrity and superficiality and even celebrate these. Like pigs in slush.

I’m really glad I grew up with Doordarshan.