New serial to show grim reality of child marriage

July 8th, 2008 - 11:54 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 8 (IANS) A nine-year-old girl dressed in traditional wedding attire sits in a ‘palki’ with tears rolling down her cheeks after being forcibly married to a 12-year-old boy - just one of the scenes from a new serial on the bane of child marriage. Set in rural Rajasthan, “Balika Vadhu - Kacchi Umar Ke Pakke Rishte” looks at the social evil that continues to be practised in parts of the country. It is set to air from July 21 on the new entertainment channel, Colors.

The serial narrates the story of a child bride Anandi, who is married off to an equally young Jagdish. The girl is torn away from the joys and innocence of childhood and estranged from her parents only to be bound by her in-laws’ customs.

Like most children in metros and towns, the young actors playing the protagonists in “Balika Vadhu” were unaware of the plight of many children who are unwillingly forced into marriage in the name of tradition.

“I don’t know what happens, but I only know that it should not happen. But I was very happy when I got the role,” 10-year-old Avika Gor, who plays Anandi, told IANS.

Even Avinash Mukherjee, who plays Jagdish, had no idea about this custom and echoed Avika’s sentiments.

“Yes, I also think that it (child marriage) should not happen. We children don’t even know anything about marriage,” the 10-year-old said.

This is not the first time that Avika and Avinash have acted together. They were earlier seen in NDTV Imagine’s fantasy show “Rajkumar Aryan”.

Comall Wadhwa, the producer of the serial, said the idea for such a serial had been on her mind for a long time.

“It is a fact that child marriages still take place in states like West Bengal. If not at a very tender age, a lot of children are married before 18. This is not right and we wanted to deal with this issue,” said Wadhwa of production house Sphere Origins.

“In the show, we show the mental growth of children as a couple, how the girl adjusts with her man’s family and so on. Basically, we have just picked up this social issue and weaved fiction around it,” she explained.

But since child marriage is more prevalent in rural areas than cities, what is the show’s target audience?

“Even our young lead actors are from metros and we’ve only given them a basic idea of what happens. But my actress (Avika) is a very powerful actress and I’m sure we will be able to put across our idea very well.

“We have just tried to cover all angles of ‘baal vivaah’ (child marriage) and put it across as a social issue to all those living in metros,” Wadhwa said.

She is confident that the show will draw a large audience and that it will surely run for more than a year.

“The girl will grow as the story proceeds and you would also see that even before the ‘gauna’ (a second ceremony after the child bride enters puberty and then leaves for her husband’s home), the husband dies.

“So the show will definitely run for a long time,” she said.

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