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Three weeks ago, Sony launched a fiction show called Pehredaar Piya Ki. The show’s promos received flak, especially in the social media, because of the show’s central theme: A grown-up girl marries a 10-something boy. This “romance” was termed regressive and even pervert.
Recently, acclaimed film director Shoojit Sircar tweeted about putting an end to kids’ talent shows on TV. With the respect he commands, he managed to initiate yet another debate on the topic.
There’s something common to these two seemingly unrelated debates. Both are social commentaries on our television of the day, and both suggest that our TV is not exactly playing a positive role in building a progressive and positive society at large. And both have a kids angle in them.
Much as a debate is healthy and should be encouraged, I find these opinions misplaced to a large extent. Let’s start with kids on talent shows. There has been considerable debate in the past on how kids who shoot for TV or films should have defined work hours, and shooting schedules should take into account their education requirements. That’s a fair point and needs more debate and industry guidelines.
But kids’ talent shows cannot be seen only in context of the grueling schedules they could subject their participants to. Just because we haven’t fixed that problem doesn’t mean these shows don’t offer positives of their own.
One of the biggest positives has been how such shows have encouraged parents to look at their kids’ personality development and talent beyond conventional education. Such shows have led to parents allowing their kids to explore what earlier would be seen as wasteful activities. There are academies and courses for training kids in various skills and arts, which didn’t exist earlier. One of the enablers of this academy culture have been the reality shows on TV.
There is always the danger of herd mentality operating in such cases, where parents force their kids to join one of such courses, because everyone else’s kid is also joining one. But we cannot throw the baby with the bathwater. And herd mentality exists with education as well, and to a much higher extent. But that doesn’t mean we call for an end to schooling.
Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Li’l Champs is the top-rated show on Hindi GECs as of now. Ratings may not be social validation, but they definitely point towards acceptance of an idea. Kids-centric talent shows have consistently delivered, as they bring the family together and offer a combination of entertainment and positivity, which many adult shows fail to do.
Pehredaar Piya Ki was one of Sony’s best fiction openings in recent times, and has sustained well through its first two weeks. The story, and even the title, justifies the oddball marriage at the heart of the show. There is absolutely no sense of perversion in how the topic has been treated in what is a fairly tastefully-done show. There’s no social impact, negative or positive, this story can possibly have. It’s just entertainment, which some may like and some may not.
Our TV industry, especially GECs, has enough concerns to deal with. And the ones discussed in this column should definitely not be on the top of their list.
This post first appeared on MXMIndia on my weekly column.