?Illegal? twist in the tale
At a time when euthanasia is a crime under the Indian Penal Code and many legal petitions are pending, Balaji Telefilms has very easily resorted to mercy killing to put another twist in the tale of Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi.
The person on whom Ekta Kapoor pulls the plug is Savita bahu (Apara Mehta), the eldest of the first generation daughters-in-law of the Virani family, after she meets with an accident. It is daughter-in-law Tulsi (Smriti Iraani) who ‘helps’ her die.
“I dealt with marital rape in Kyunki…, didn’t I? Then why can’t I show euthanasia?” replies Ekta Kapoor, asked if it is right to show something not legalised in our country. The creative director of Balaji Telefilms adds, “TV is fiction and we are only bringing up social issues. If there is any problem, my legal department will take care of it.”
Star India’s senior creative director Shailaja Kejriwal reasons that it is all about starting a debate on the issue and taking a stand on it. “We at Star, along with Balaji Telefilms, have decided to take up (through the serials) social issues that are not talked about openly,” she says. “We just though that euthanasia is a subject of great importance… we should talk about it and keep the topic alive.”
A debate on letting a terminally ill person die through medical intervention occasionally surfaces in India. The issue came up at the end of December when a Mumbai couple filed a writ petition seeking permission to end their one-year-old son’s life as he suffers from hydrocephalus, a condition that causes accumulation of water in the head, retarding the growth of the brain. The child also suffers from thoracolumbar, which makes one’s spinal cord useless.
But euthanasia is illegal in India — not by a law that makes it illegal, but due to the absence of any law that directly addresses the issue. According to YP Singh, former IPS officer and now a practising lawyer, “Ethical and operational constraints disallow this practice. Euthanasia amounts to culpable homicide under Section 304 of the IPC or murder under Section 299”.
Speaking on the serial’s new ‘twist’, a media analyst expresses amazement. “Sparking off a debate is one thing but what is surprising is how one deals with such topics with such ease and passes it off as,” says the analyst.
“In fact, in the serial, the topic has been tackled very shoddily: the protagonist pulls the plug without consulting senior doctors or anybody in the family, which is a so-called huge joint family. She does it purely governed by her emotions.” The analyst adds that in a country where these soaps are closely followed by millions, showing something like this could mislead them into thinking that one could easily resort to mercy killing.
It is understood from Kejriwal that one of the characters, a lawyer named Meera, will take the debate forward by saying that Tulsi did the wrong thing and that Savita could have got another chance to live, thereby dealing with another aspect of euthanasia.
With inputs from Kshama Rao