In the past three months, the TV serial Saubhagyavati Bhava (SB) has had audiences watch the lead, Jhanvi, being subjected to domestic violence by her abusive, over-possessive husband, Viraj. Now, in the story, Jhanvi has to take a stand and to help her, the channel has launched a two-fold initiative. They asked audiences to suggest her next course of action, while also tying up with Bell Bajao as part of a domestic violence awareness campaign.
Within five days of the initiative, 63,601 replies have poured in, says Ajit Thakur, general manager of Life Ok. “Our goal is to create awareness. We didn’t want Jhanvi to suffer in this situation for the next three years, something that happens in most TV shows.” The channel wanted to gauge the viewers’ responses and plans to incorporate some of them in a future episode. “The idea is to engage viewers in Jhanvi’s life and make them think about whether they have seen bad marriages or are stuck in one,” explains Thakur.
The association with Bell Bajao includes providing funding for coaching programs in markets like UP, where such situations are prevalent. “We will urge people to talk to each other about domestic violence using Jhanvi as an example. We want women to know what they can do,” says Thakur.
The channel head denies that the show glorifies domestic violence by depicting explicit scenes. “We could have avoided the violent scenes and still had a gripping drama. But what we showed is a fraction of what women actually go through. We also wanted to target men who are either silent observers or violent themselves. Bollywood often talks about hardcore issues, and people get the message. There is no need to hide such topics under the carpet.”
Top three responses
Jhanvi should file a police complaint
She should leave her husband
She should get him treated.