Television czarina Ekta Kapoor's latest serial Bairi Piya for Colors channel could be in a spot of trouble with a prominent NGO Thursday demanding a ban on the soap accusing it of spreading misinformation on the plight of debt-ridden farmers of eastern Maharashtra.
The Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS), an NGO working among the farmers of Vidarbha, has shot off a letter to the state government demanding a ban on "Bairi Piya", which is made against the backdrop of farmland suicides in the state.
VJAS president Kishore Tiwari alleged that the channel's portrayal of the plight of the farming community is a "figment of imagination" of the writer who is ignorant of ground realities.
"We have strongly objected to the manner in which it is shown in the serial that farmers have to 'mortgage' their daughters or wives in return for monetary assistance from rich and greedy money-lenders," Tiwari told IANS.
By this, the channel and the production house are casting "aspersions" on the characters of all the young girls and women in Vidarbha, as also the widows and orphans of farmers all over the country, Tiwari asserted.
The VJAS has demanded that the teleserial be immediately yanked off the network and telecast only after suitable modifications and taking clearance of experts on the subject of farmland suicides.
"We have written to the state chief secretary and other concerned officials in this regard. If they fail to comply, then we shall take the next course of action," he said.
Despite several attempts by IANS, officials from Colors TV and Ekta's Balaji Telefilms in Mumbai were not available for comment.
The serial, which started Sep 19, portrays the story of Amoli "a 20-year-old beautiful and cheerful, eternally positive and optimistic daughter of a farmer" in Vidarbha.
Amoli is shattered when she learns that her best friend Kaumudi has been mortgaged to a local thakur (moneylender) since her father wanted to raise money for her wedding.
Following a locust attack on a standing crop belonging to her family, Amoli discovers that her father's condition is no different from the rest of the debt-ridden farmers in the region.
"When the thakur of the village lays his sights on the virginal Amoli and expresses his desire for her in exchange of money for her father's debt, the morals that Amoli has been raised with give her the strength to stand for herself and fight it out against the people who demand compromise and submission from her" - this is the introduction to the tele-serial.
"What do they mean by making such statements? That all young girls and widows in the region have been subject to such tactics by the moneylenders here? Yes, the farmers have suffered because of their economic backwardness, but it never reflected on the other family members," Tiwari explained.
He said that this week a foreign television called up VJAS and wanted to get details of young girls and women who were "mortgaged" to moneylenders.
Tiwari said his organization has taken strong umbrage at this "snide character assassination" of the women and their daughters who have become victims of the system.
"If such insensitive things are portrayed on television before huge audiences, it will directly hit the marriage prospects of the young girls, creating further social problems here," he pointed out.