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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Balika Vadhu (Child Bride) on Colors channel

The various Hindi serials currently on air (and in the past) have focused on a variety of social ills, including such ever popular (and high drama generating) areas such as jealousy, widow remarriage, adultery, affairs, children out of wedlock, dowry, etc. Somehow, even though dowry is a heinous social ill (and causes immense problems to a lady whose in-laws are demanding), we have been hearing and reading about it so much that the concept of dowry being shown in a Hindi serial is not shocking anymore.
What was shocking to me was this serial being shown on Colors at 11 PM weekdays, right after Big Boss Season 2. Why this was shocking was because child marriage is wrong on so many levels and is highly illegal (and yet unfortunately still prevalent in some areas of the country); it causes immense physical and mental distress to the affected girl, displays a custom where the parents of the girl feel that she is a burden and she needs to be handed over to somebody else as soon as possible, and the trauma of both the young girl and boy to be put in such a responsibility is pretty bad.
So this is the reason why this serial affected me so much. The serial takes a young girl called Anandi, who is married at a very tender age to a young boy from a much richer family (with her own family pretty sure that this is the only way that her life can progress). In her 'in-laws' place, her in-laws are shown to be very nice, except for the matriarch of the house, the grandmother who keeps on finding fault, and administering punishment.
The relationship between the young couple is also very tender, since neither of them is aware of what a marriage actually means. They fight (and it would look cute, except for the fact that they are married and do not know what that means) all the time including about Anandi coming to live in her 'husbands' room. Eventually, after another strong scolding (and much crying), this young girl runs away and heads back to her parents house (badly traumatized by her experience with the grandmother), and yet the couple emotionally blackmail her to go back and beg forgiveness for whatever she has done.
Hindi channels need to have sense of responsibility; showing a child marriage like this in a normal setting can reassure those people who are also planning on getting their children married and make this seem normal; the channel is just after TRP'. The only concession that is made is a small line at the end of every episode that tries to present a message against this wrong practise.

Videos of the serial from Youtube (link)

Little girl crying miserably, begging for forgiveness even when she has not done anything

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