There’s a new show on the block called “Pehredaar Piya Ki”, and it’s sending us all some very weird signals about love. Starring Tejaswi Prakash as Diya, an adult woman, and Afaan Khan, as 9-year-old Rajput prince Ratan Singh, the show quickly wanders into pedophile territory and people are not happy about it.
Take cricketer-turned-actor Karan Wahi, who had some choice things to say about. In a Facebook post, he wrote: “for the love of God and for the reason we all got into this industry, please don’t sell me stupidity in the name of content.”
But if you missed the furore over the TV show, here’s a real quick breakdown of the first episode to get you going.
The show opens with a gratuitous shot of the ‘Kesar Mehal’ – which, by the way doubles as a hotel because you gotta make the best of this economy.
For royalty, they sure have a sparse number of camels and elephants out front at the main entrance, but I’m already plotting of ways to rescue these animals from the travesty that is the next 19 minutes of the show.
After some ceremonial hay-stack incineration or whatever, we’re introduced to these guys:
They’re the parents of our main man, Prince Ratan Singh. And it takes Royal Mom here all of five minutes to start trashing another woman. Way to establish that girl-on-girl hate, guys. Real crowd-pleaser.
Anyway, cut to a few scenes later when 9-year-old Ratan has managed to sneak away from his parents and – hidden in a box?
Please spare yourself the pain of trying to look for symbolism in this. I tried and I needed an ice-pack. This is just what the Prince happens to be doing when we’re first introduced to him. And he’s looking transfixed at:
This is Diya, whose only job seems to be to wear expensive clothes and jewellery, because YOLO. And that’s where love begins. Oh, did I say love? I meant stalking.
Seriously, look at what this kid is up to:
Obviously his parents missed a royal (heh) opportunity to tell him about parts of the IT Act and Section 354D of the Indian Penal Code that make this stuff illegal. We’re getting some major #FlashbackFriday to that song from “Toilet” where 49-year-old Akshay Kumar’s character does literally the same thing, set to lilting romantic music.
Remember that creepshow? Because I do. And it’s no less jarring to see a little boy exhibiting the same behaviour.
Anyway, back to “Pehredaar Piya Ki”, a show where we have to endure numerous uncomfortable close-ups like this:
I’m pretty sure if I ever had a kid look at me this way for a good five minutes, I’d run for the hills. Diya, however, doesn’t appear to have any friends her own age and is actually totally fine hanging around this kid. Why? It’s kind of a funny story. And it starts with this little critter:
Here’s Mr. Roach just minding his own business, probably out to get some sun. Little does he know Diya’s the most Mary Sue to every Mary Sue since Bella Swan. Because as soon as she spots Roachy, she does this:
Which results in:
But Ratan Singh knows he’s no Edward Cullen (thank God for small mercies) because he quickly tells her, “Aap bahut bhari hain.” Damn, son, that was real smooth. Also, can we just talk about how awkward this scene is:
Impressed by his bravery (lol, seriously?) Diya presents Prince Ratan with one of these:
Thanks for keeping it PG-13, guys. Not that that makes this courtship any less weird. Because let’s not forget that Ratan Singh has just been stalking this young woman. And there’s evidence too:
Uh oh! Is it time for a massive dressing down? Maybe take an opportunity to explain to Ratan, and all impressionable young boys in India why taking photos of a person without their consent is wrong? Hell no, because we’re going to quickly skip to the marriage proposal.
Yes, you heard me. Marriage proposal. When I was 9, I was still waiting for teachers to permit us to use pens instead of pencils during exams. This kid has skipped a few steps and gone straight to MARRIAGE.
I’m not sure whose idea it was to turns a random schoolboy wet-dream into an actual TV show, but I echo Karan Wahi’s thoughts when I say “we can be better than this.”
An adaptation of “Lamhe” (Yash Chopra’s 1991 Filmfare winner), “Pehredaar Piya Ki” is Indian television’s desperate attempt at keeping things interesting. And it isn’t working. But hey, sometimes giving up while you’re ahead is a pretty respectable thing to do.