Balika Vadhu makes you think : Merinews article
THE PRACTICE of child marriage started 4000 years ago in India. Many
things changed through the course of time like discrimination based on
one's caste, women emancipation, economic and social growth of our
country, among others. But there are things that even 4000 years of
time hasn't been able to eradicate. Sadly, child marriage is one of the
social vices that till date exist in our country.
Recently a programme called Balika Vadhu went on air on channel Colors, dealing with the above
mentioned issue. During its promotional campaign and trailers I thought
it would be yet another serial telling us what we already know. That
child marriage is immoral, inappropriate and most importantly, it can
be devastating for the lives of children. Nothing that we're not aware
But what I didn't
expect was getting to know about the countless matters and intricacies
that were attached to this one practice. Set in a small village of
Rajasthan, the story revolves around the life of a child bride, Anandi,
before and after getting married. She is married into a wealthy family
where the tradition of bringing young brides from extremely poor
families is followed.
Vadhu was not aimed to eradicate the very practice by condemning and
criticizing it, instead the intent was for the people to see the
consequences of it. In Rajasthan, where child marriage still occurs,
the audience gets to see the results in a very justified and clear
manner. Be it a little girl being expected to get all worldly and
mature at a pre-teen age, the way she copes with pressures of living in
a different house with people she doesn't even know. Their huge
expectations of managing the entire household-cooking, cleaning, taking
care of everyone in the family and behaving according to them are
supposed to be met. We see how women are still being treated as objects
that have to abandon their lives, family and friends (without having
any say) to fulfill the responsibilities they have been passed on.
Being a passive, tolerant and a perfect housewife. Anandi, although
being excellent in studies and having a great interest in it, cannot go
to school, since, after marriage she has the sole responsibility of
taking care of her household. Whereas Jagadish, her husband, is the
apple of everyone's eyes, gets to play, go to school, do what so ever
he wants to since he's a boy.
Phooli's character, a child widow and Anandi's best friend, we get to
see the life of a widow. At an age of about 8 or 10, she cannot get
dressed in colourful clothes, apply makeup, wear bangles and hair clips
and ribbons which she absolutely adores. She has to follow a particular
dress code of dull, plain clothes. She is made to follow a strict code
of conduct set up by the society. She abstains from all worldly
pleasures, cannot remarry or go to school and has to live with her
parents till death. When she doesn't know what married life is all
about, she is forced to lead the life of a widow.
consequence of consummating a girl at an early age resulting in her
death has been shown through the story of Basant's (Anandi's tauji)
foremr-wife. The dominance of males and the rich has been clearly
reflected by Basant's remarriage (even though he is a widower and about
50 years old) to a girl his daughter's age and a virgin by his demand.
Being a male, and a powerful and a rich one, he gets to 'choose'.
Vadhu does not put everything regarding child marriage in just black
and white. If on one hand there are elements of a rigid and unchanging
society (in the form of Anandi's daadi-sa and Basant tauji), there are
also characters like Anandi's father and mother in-law, who understand
the problems created by child marriage. They want things to change but
are not courageous enough to go against society. The very interesting
and strong woman who dares to go against the norms and do what's best
for her is played by Gahna, Anandi's new tayji. After coming to know
about the incident of early consummation of her husband's former-wife,
she adamantly refuses to sleep with him even after he and her
mother-in-law threaten to throw her out of the house and kill her. The
life of the poor families having daughters has been referred to as a
crime in society.
parents of these girls want their daughters to get married in a wealthy
family so that they can lead a comfortable life. They succumb to any
kind of pressure or demand put to them by the rich. However the affluent families do not refrain themselves from
repeatedly telling them about the noble deed they have done by marrying
their sons to the poor and the needy.
have endowed the girls with all the luxuries of the world, hence, their 'kindness and gratitude' must never be forgiven. Isn't it a shame that
instead of making life good for their own daughters they sell them off
without considering the aftereffects on the social, psychological and
physical state of the girl. Last but certainly not the least, the
characters of Anandi, Jagdish, Phooli manifests the changes and the
responsibilities that children are gifted with their marriage. The way
they have been shown to adapt themselves and adjust in the society is
touching. These innocent, tender souls without any knowledge about the
way things work in a patriarchal, oppressive and unchanging society are
made to grow up at an incredibly young age.
Vadhu makes you think and gives you plenty and plenty of reasons to
bring about a much needed change in the Indian society.
Edited by Shubh_Aastha - 12 November 2008 at 10:24pm