It’s quite baffling…to witness the changing dynamics in the media and entertainment space.
Television broadcasting space is high & mighty. The most powerful of people walk the corridors of content, entertaining & engaging with millions of Indians every minute of the day.
However, its counterpart, the dynamic digital space is gradually marking its territory and nibbling its way into the audience space, creating a niche of its own.
The television vs digital content tussle still has a major tilt in favour of the former, however, gone are the days when each platform functioned unilaterally. The two, though parallel in approach, converge in many ways. And this time the Davidish digital has conquered Goliathish TV, if one can out it that way.
Case in point is Sony TV’s controversial show, Pehredaar Piya Ki. The channel and the makers didn’t see the ‘social media’ wrath coming…the power of slacktivism.
The show’s core was an emotional (read: romantic) platonic relationship between a 9 year old and an adult woman, which based on certain circumstances eventually led to matrimony of the two.
The promotional placards of a boy putting vermilion on the grown up’s forehead, raised curious eyebrows. The first episode saw the boy getting mushy (in a creepy way) with the woman, causing a spark in sentiments.
Television actor Karan Wahi was one of the first voices who termed the show regressive. Thus, began a social media crusade.
Petitions were filed on change.org demanding closure of the show. More people joined the clamor, with Pehredaar turning out to be a fish bone for the makers.
It can be said that there were many who joined the protest without taking a peep at the episodes, however, they found resonance with the belief that Pehredaar promoted child marriage, corrupting the minds of young India.
Indian television, though wears a façade of progress, its core selling point has always been concepts which cater to baser human emotions. It’s a massy medium which aims to entertain. Nothing wrong in it. Pehredaar is not the first show which could be termed regressive and will certainly not be the last one. Having said that, it’s a classic case of being ‘unlucky’ to get singled out, being lynched on social media and the lack of deftness on part of the channel and makers to deal with the scenario, led to its untimely closure. Smriti Irani (Information & Broadcasting Minister) took notice of the petition and issued diktats.
First the show was asked to shift to a later timeslot and then came the news of the channel being asked to shut it with immediate effect.
This indeed is a case in point of how a strong social media campaign can rock the strongest of foundations.
The popular opinion against the show became so negatively strong, that the makers lost the battle even before the fight could begin.
The mighty TV took a fall, never to get back again. Producer of the show Sumeet Mittal agreed in an interview that negative social media buzz worked against the show.
IndianWikiMedia ran a poll where more than 82 percent voted in favour of the show going off air, thus validating popular sentiment.
There are many who feel that the digital/social media wave is too weak to even push a stone, however, it seems even the mountains are shaking with the undercurrent of change and mobilized opinions.
Who erred and who not in Pehredaar debacle is a matter of self-opinion and investigation, however, it will be dim to ignore the force that led to its closure. Times are changing…brace yourself. Welcome slacktivism…you are here to stay…