Apna Television is New Zealand’s first 24/7 free-to-air Indian entertainment channel on digital free-view and is one of the limited options available for Hindi speaking community in that category. Even though I haven’t had a chance to watch enough serials on it, I’ve seen a couple of them that are shown at prime time. One of these serials is “Agle Janam Mohe Bitiya Hi Kijo” which was initially telecasted on Zee TV few years back. I didn’t know about the serial then but I do now and boy, it couldn’t have been further away from its title. The serial starts with the protagonist who got married as a child (sold away for money and duped by parents) after which she enters a family as a mistress. The serial shows multiple societal sins which are shown to be acceptable. These sins include extra marital relationships with mistresses often to get a male-child, stealing of ornaments in your own home, marrying criminals for money, shooting and kidnapping your own relatives, need I say more? Almost everybody has either tried to kill or has been a victim of attempted murder. Am I the only one appalled by the lack of gravity with which killing has been showcased? I should also mention that the protagonist acts like a total miss-goody-two-shoes and hence faces multiple murder attempts and being treated like shit. Though, ultimately, she ends up becoming a sarpanch, but what is the serial trying to tell, that face whatever is being doled out to you and hope for your lover to come and protect and stand by you and the world will be a perfect place. By the way, if you both are in love and you know your family is stupid, why not go to a different part of the country and live happily ever after instead of facing multiple murder attempts? When I read about the serial on Wikipedia, the page mentioned that the serial is supposed to be based in Bihar. To be fair, knowing that state, activities shown in that serial are not that away from reality but all these activities happening in one family, not a chance.
All this while, when I talk about the plot of the serial, I’m particularly annoyed by the channels that broadcast such a serial, what thoughts did you go through while choosing a serial to broadcast, what message do you want to convey? What do you get by showing a rich, uneducated, uncultured, violent family that nobody can be inspired by. Do you know the difference between progressive and regressive? People like you are the reason why India is still considered as a backward society overall instead of a developing country who recently outpaced China in terms of growth.
Now that I have spoken about the serial, let’s look at value system of the Channel. I came across a page claiming to be “Apna Television Official” stating the kind of content which it aims to deliver. On further research, I came across this article which I assume its PR team dished out. The said article describes the channel’s mission is to deliver “vibrant, youthful and value-oriented television for the entire family, which is endearing, enriching and entertaining.” I would want to meet any pundit who can spin a story that vouches for this serial’s values of trying to kill people at every chance they get, treating women as an object to deliver babies (boys), buying and selling young girls, burning the house at multiple occasions, and I don’t even want to get into how respectful and loving and religious the family is. As for “entire family” part, the serial is scheduled at prime time which says that the channel is pretty sure that the serial is apt to be viewed by entire family during their dinner time. I can not describe how contradicting it is to my judgement (which is, even if I try to be humble, is above average). Whom are they kidding when they say kids should watch such serials where everybody shouts at each other, eight year olds call names to their parents, everybody plots to hurt each other for their hidden agendas. The said article also says that the channel “…creates a unique blend of entertainment…”, which part of this serial is entertaining, throwing chilli powder in eyes, throwing nails hidden in flowers at a new-born child, or holding women captive like cattle?
Now addressing the channel directly,
You guys designed the above mentioned lines as your mission statements, when you don’t abide by them, it is futile to try to explain you the onus of media as an influencer of public opinion. Owning a television channel without considering consequences of showing what you are showing is an evidence of shortsightedness. It’s time to have a critical look at what you are showing to the next generation and what you are telling them as acceptable standard of violence, insult and culture in a family. I understand that you don’t create these serials but you choose the serials of which you buy the broadcasting rights. Go through Star Plus and other Hindi channels and the serials they show, choose some progressive/logical/at least remotely associated with reality sort of serials t show. You have the responsibility to show better serials, any random serial wouldn’t do just because it is Hindi. It’s time you decide to self-regulate the message you pass through the serials you choose and step up.