A little over a month after its release, Sony Entertainment Television's controversial show, Pehredaar Piya Ki has been taken off air, according to a report by Hindustan Times.
In a statement explaining the decision, the channel said, "effective from August 28 2017, we are pulling off our programme, Pehredaar Piya Ki, from television. While we understand that the decision to end this serial will be disappointing to those whose creative energies are vested in it, namely, its crew and cast, we (as a channel) are convinced that we will be better served by focusing instead on developing viewer interest in our upcoming shows. We are grateful to all the artists, producers and fans of our shows and request you to graciously support the viewership of our new ventures."
The show has been in trouble ever since its release on 17 July due to its central theme of a marriage between a nine-year-old boy, Ratan, played by child actor Afaan Khan, and an 18-year-old girl, Diya, played by actress Tejasswi Prakash Wayangankar.
Admittedly, even though the show did not portray the 'marriage' between the 'couple' as anything other than one of convenience to further the somewhat bizarre plot, the scenes showing the minor stalking the woman, the idea of a 'suhaag raat' between a child and an adult woman, and watching the adult bride wait hand and foot on her kid husband, are rather distasteful to watch.
Naturally then, what the makers of the show tried to pass off as a harmless crush harboured by a young boy on his idol, was considered by many television viewers as regressive and inappropriate content for the 8:30 pm primetime slot. The matter was furiously debated, and an online petition to Union Information & Broadcasting Minister, Smriti Irani, calling for a ban on the show due to is regressive content and promoting a grave social evil like child marriage, garnered 1.25 lakh signatures.
The complaint was forwarded by Irani to the Broadcasting Content Complaints Council (BCCC), an advisory body that issues guidelines for "non-news channels, including general entertainment channels, kids channels and special interest channels".
Acting on the growing public opinion against the show, the BCCC had recommended that the channel move the show to the 10 pm slot and run a disclaimer explicitly stating that it did not support child marriages.
On 19 August, Sony released a new promo announcing that the show would be aired at 10:30 pm, from August 22. In addition to this, to end all controversies about the inappropriateness of the so-called relationship, the show was scheduled to take a 12-year-leap on 17 October, showing Ratan as a 21-year-old young man.
However, in a surprise move that shocked everyone — the cast, crew, and viewers — less than a week later, Sony suddenly decided to pull the plug on the show by not airing the episode scheduled for Monday, 28 August. However, the episode did go on online on Sony's online platform, Sony Liv, reported India Today.
The cast and crew, who believed they were finally in the clear due to the scheduled leap did not see the sudden end coming either.
Jiten Lalwani, who plays the part of Bhuvan Singh on the show, told Hindustan Times, "Yes. If the episode hasn't aired then you know the news is true."
Despite the suddenness of the move, according to the India Today report, the show has been pulled off air because the makers and the channel felt the late-night slot did injustice to the story of the show. The makers have, however, promised they will be back with a new season of the show soon.
HuffPost India has reached out to the producers of the show for comment.
Also on HuffPost