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‘Speak up about domestic violence,’ says lead actor Nimrit Kaur Ahluwalia on new episodes of COLORS’ Choti Sarrdaarni on domestic abuse.
In India, television serials and soaps hold a very high place in people’s minds and hearts. From serials like Kyuki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi with its incredible amounts of patriarchy to Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashma with its stereotypes and unfunny jokes, we’ve seen it all. However, compared to those, serials like Anupamaa and Choti Sarrdaarrni are definitely a breath of fresh air. Slowly and steadily these series are trying to show women who are more empowered and willing to take a stand for themselves.
Airing since 2019, COLORS’ Choti Sarrdaarni has managed to capture viewers’ hearts with its storyline and its lead character Meher Kaur Dhillon. A strong and level-headed girl, Meher is in love with Manav and dreams of their perfect life together. However, life has other plans and Manav ends up dead. Not the one to give up, a now pregnant Meher fights the battles life throws at her and emerges stronger with the support of Sarabjit Singh Gill whom she eventually marries.
Actor and model Nimrit Kaur Ahluwalia plays the role of Meher in the serial. Talking about Meher, Nimrit says, “Since the inception of Choti Sarrdaarni, Meher has been a girl whose character is deep-rooted when it comes to her value systems. She is a blunt and honest person who will never shy away from standing up for what she feels is right.”
Nimrit continues, “Through the course of the show, she has matured, gotten married and embraced motherhood. I think that the transition brings about a sense of responsibility where she takes every family member’s thought process into consideration and then makes her decisions based on the circumstances she comes across.”
Throughout the show, the makers have attempted to deal with numerous social issues including that of domestic violence in their upcoming episodes. In the past few months of the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a sharp increase in the number of domestic violence cases in India.
Before becoming a full-time actor, Nimrit was a lawyer and a social activist. And has worked to help women stand up to domestic violence during and after law school. While she was studying law, she worked with the National Mission for Empowerment of Women and the Ministry of Women and Child Development. Here she was a part of the team that interviewed women who were survivors of domestic abuse and has also written research papers on the same while studying law.
An issue that definitely needs to be talked about, the show has Meher fighting for the rights of a woman who is a victim of domestic violence. About this particular set of episodes, she says, “I take pride in the fact that COLORS and the maker of Choti Sarrdaarni have decided to address this issue. Television is a medium that has a massive reach, globally. There are millions of people who are witnessing a dialogue about a pressing issue in our society for the longest time. During the lockdown, we read reports of how domestic violence cases went up.”
“What Meher does in order to save the other women is something I can relate to. During law school, I was a part of the meetings that took place in order to formulate guidelines that were incorporated across the country to bring down the number of such cases and bring awareness among women about their rights. We have also worked with organisations that could help these women. Be it establishing a helpline for women who are subject to domestic abuse to reach out to or looping in specialist hospitals that could be reached in case of emergency, I have worked on the ground level to help in such situations,” Nimrit told us.
Though domestic violence is such a rampant problem in the country, people often hesitate to talk about it or intervene when something is happening. Why, you ask? Well, because of our deep-rooted belief that it’s a ‘personal matter’ and that we really have no say in it. However, domestic violence is an issue that affects all of us, directly and indirectly.
Says Nimrit, “I think it is very important for men and women to understand that domestic violence is completely wrong. And if we end up being mere spectators to domestic violence, we, too, are party to it, which is a crime. With Choti Sarrdaarni, we are sharing a great message with the viewers as to do whatever they can to curb such incidents when they see them.”
Tarkaash, Sarabjit’s friend who has been working with him for years and is almost family is the one who is abusing his own wife. When Meher finds out about it, she takes a stand against it, in a very empowering move.
“They say women can empower other women and that is absolutely true. My message to anyone who will watch Choti Sarrdaarni or is reading this interview is that, in today’s time and age, when we talk so much about feminism, it shouldn’t just be relegated to conversations. We need to take action. It is important to act whenever a situation of domestic violence arises,” Nimrit says about the episodes dealing with domestic violence.
While taking action is important, there are definitely lessons that one can learn from the serial, one of them being that domestic violence is a crime, that there are no ways about it. And that assaulting someone mentally or physically is wrong.
This is a crime in the eyes of the law. However, domestic abuse isn’t always at the hands of the husband, it could be the family too which is engaging in this. In fact, women also do this to other women in their family.
“I think, in this day and age, it is important to understand the consequences one could face if one engages in domestic violences. To everyone who sees it happening around the, I request them to please step up and report it. Please do not be a bystander. Help the victim,” Nimrit urges her viewers.
“If we don’t do something about it, we are party to it and we are wrong. I hope that with time and right education, we can that yes, we have eradicated domestic violence. This is our effort in that direction,” Nimrit tells us.
Indeed, domestic violence is a serious crime and we need to deal with it strictly and without any exceptions. With widely watched serials like Choti Sarrdaarni, if the message reaches more people in a way they can relate to, it can be considered a victory.
Picture credits: Still from the TV series Choti Sarrdaarni
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