If Emmanuel Macron can, so can Sony TV.

Now I very rarely—read, never—watch Hindi entertainment TV. But I read so many outraged articles about a show called Pehredaar Piya Ki on Sony TV that I had to watch it.

Pehredaar Piya Ki is about the marriage and relationship between a 10-year-old Rajput prince and a princess in her 20s. A consensual marriage. (To put the Macron comparison in context, the French president is married to a woman 25 years older than him.)

The show is set in Rajasthan and is in its third episode. To say the experience was traumatic would be an understatement. Set in a palace called Kesar Mahal which is part-hotel, the show celebrates royalty, fiefdoms and parampara. So, we are shown grinning young women talking about how only women are allowed into certain areas in the palace. The women grin even more, barely able to control their joy when they’re informed that their fathers have decided who they will marry, without even taking their views into account.

But it isn’t just parampara that is being celebrated. A Class V student, prince Ratan Mansinghji is besotted with princess Piya. Piya is in her 20s and treats him like a child—which he is and as she should. Ratan’s mother is blown to smithereens in a car blast and his father, played by Parmeet Sethi, says that he knows Ratan’s life is under threat (and it’s implied that the relatives are behind this). And that Ratan needs to be protected and guarded—by a pehredaar or bodyguard. He, therefore, informs Piya’s father, who is his loyal companion, that Piya should be married to Ratan so she can protect him. Piya promptly rises to the occasion, because it seems that her only focus in life is to get married to a prince. Adult, minor, deviant, abusive—it matters not.

Is Piya part of the security personnel at Tops Security? Is she a trained bodyguard? Is she a closet ninja? Why is she chosen to guard the prince? That too by marriage. All we have seen of her skills is that she roams around in very ornate lehengas and is petrified of cockroaches. Unless of course, and if the show producers haven’t thought of it, here’s an idea, they show that her mangal sutra will keep her child-husband safe.

The promo of the serial shows the 10-year-old pull up a stool next to his wife, stand on it and put sindoor on her head. Which brings tears to her eyes—which could be because the actress has realized that one must take on all sorts of rubbish roles to get a foothold in the world of television. Now don’t get me wrong, I have no problems with people from different generations finding love and lust with each other. I just like relationships to be between consenting adults.

But that’s just me being old-fashioned and provincial.

This is no Lolita with a turn of phrase and well-etched characters who make you marvel at the story instead of just balking at the actions of the characters. Although thankfully, till now, there’s no sex in this serial. What Sony TV has managed with this programme—which I am certain will include a time jump where Piya will keep looking the same age, while Ratan suddenly becomes older and then proceeds to woo and seduce her as an adult—is to convince people to stop criticising icchadhari naagins and Balaji’s saas-bahu shows. At least those aren’t promoting and celebrating child abuse. But thank you Sony TV for showing us that there are always new depths which Hindi TV programmes can plummet to. You can watch the trailer here.

If you’re keen on watching Pehredaar Piya Ki, tune in to Sony TV at 8.30pm from Monday to Thursday.

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