The recent uproar on the controversial new show Pehredaar Piya Ki led me to both watch many episodes of the serial and also read many posts of outrage against it. I watched 19 episodes of Pehredaar Piya Ki and had to conclude it is beautifully confused at best. However much you would like to keep an open mind, it is decidedly bizarre to watch a kid arranging aarti and grahapravesh for his “wife” and I am glad it’s off air for many reasons. However, what struck me as curious was the main argument of the various posts protesting PPK, namely, that it was airing at 8.30pm, the family viewing time, thereby corrupting the minds of susceptible children.
My dear Indian family, pray tell me, what is “family viewing time?” TV channels call this the prime time slot - from 7 or 8pm up to 10.30pm when they get maximum eyeballs. This is also being expanded to rev up the ratings from 6pm onwards as “early primetime.” And you, dear family, euphemistically call it the family viewing time.
In an article for LiveMint, Partho Dasgupta, the head of BARC, the agency that basically measures who watches which channel and how much - wrote:
“TV is the mass medium of choice for a country like India. It is watched by the rich and poor, by the daily office-goer as well as farmers across rural India. It offers enough choice for a young country, ensuring growth as a medium which binds the family together and remains the first screen of choice.”
The indispensable glue that sticks the Indian family together? So what everyone who protested against PPK was saying basically was, our children are watching the soaps with us at 8.30 pm, we don't want them to watch something like PPK. Bravo! It takes a nine year old child applying sindoor on an 18 year old woman to rouse our collective conscience.
But this is only a partial realization. We can - and must - do better!