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Monday, January 18, 2010

PAVITRA RISHTA - The Individual or the Family?

Will they or won’t they? In case you are confused, the topic for discussion here is the impending divorce of Archana and Manav of Zee Tv’s Pavitra Rishta. Trust Ekta Kapoor and Balaji Telefilms to stretch out what must be one page of writing into seven days worth of prime time television. So while the main players just want to get on with their respective lives (at least that is what they would like to believe) by signing on the dotted line; those around them are trying their level best to stop the duo and make them see sense. This brings us to a very interesting point-the role of family in India in the very private affair called marriage. And especially so in today’s transient times where live in relationships seem to be what young couples would be most comfortable with. Serials like Pavitra Rishta go a long way in enforcing and re-establishing the role of family in the institution of marriage.

Unlike the West, where marriage is most often looked upon to be a relationship between two consenting individuals, marriage in India has been very much a ‘family’ affair. It is the family which decides who gets to marry whom; like it was Archana’s Aai who handpicks her suitors and finally her husband. Similarly, it is her mother who is eager to get her divorced from her husband, Manav, because it is her view that he is not ‘good enough for her beloved Archana’. Here Archana’s feelings and views are of secondary importance. Archana and Manav too, are considered to be ‘good and dutiful’ since they follow and agree to whatever their elders and the larger family unit has to say.

On the other hand, Archana’s sister-in-law who is keen on setting up a nuclear family unit is cast as the trouble-maker. Similarly, Archana’s younger sister Varsha, had to undergo the heartbreak of a bad relationship in order to understand that her individualistic take on life and relationship is all wrong. Her being dumped by her lover (a much married man) is seen as her just punishment for daring to stray from the notions enforced by her Aai. She is now back in the family fold as the dutiful daughter who realises that the family is always right.

Wouldn’t it be lovely for once to watch characters that are not cast as black and white based purely on their views on individuality? The family has to give space to its constituent element-the single person-so that he/she can grow and realise their full potential. Otherwise the degeneration of the larger whole into fragments is inevitable. For how long can you stretch the elasticity of the bond (?) without it snapping into pieces? Serials too need to mirror this reality of society-that of families where the individual is not lost in a crowd, for in a crowd even your shadow is lost to you.

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