Saturday, October 27, 2007

Love affairs, society and violence

Recently, there have been reports in the media about couples eloping to get married and the drama that follows the event. The latest news story is about Telugu film star Chiranjeevi's daughter's wedding to her lover of 4 years against her parents wishes. The national media followed the story almost obsessively, even talking to Chiranjeevi himself and to his daughter. In the meantime, the Rizwanur Rahman murder case increasingly resembles the infamous honour killings of Punjab and Haryana. And parts of Pakistan too. But, all this drama behind the elopement and marriage of a star-kid raises one important question. How much attention should the media give to such happenings? Does the mere fact that Srija is Chiranjeevi's daughter nullify her right to a private life. Everything was discussed in the Press. From the cost of her wedding dress to the honeymoon destination, everything was talked about. Experts condemned Chiranjeevi, wondered if Srija was really in love given that she was only 18 and raised a hue and cry about security to the newly-married couple. These experts appropriate the right to talk about her private life simply because she has a star father. Once the hype and hoopla dies down, what is to become of the couple? Does anyone care? Or is it simply a way of increasing circulation and improving TRP ratings?

The Rizwanur murder is another case in point. The media is more obsessed about the love affair between Rizwanur and Priyanka Todi than in the murder itself. Of course, who want to see the gory details of police investigation, post-mortem examinations and forensic evidence? The elopement and marriage of the couple is more interesting right? Is this what the media should do? What about more serious issues like the Global Hunger Report published by the International Food Policy Research Institute was barely mentioned by the media. Where are we going? What is the media, which is supposed to be the fourth estate, doing to create awareness on important issues?

That said, a second issue regarding these elopements and marriages must be addressed. Couples don't elope for the thrill of it. They elope because of parental opposition, pressure and other problems. Nobody likes to run away from home. They are forced to. By this, I am not justifying the decision of the couple to run away. I am simply trying to understand the reasons behind such a decision. This blogpost by Rashmi Bansal hits the nail on the head. The problem is the unwillingness to compromise. Parents always think their kids are too young, too immature or too naive to be able to choose a life partner. That said, kids refuse to acknowledge that their parents' advice and knowledge can sometimes be heeded. Where is the solution? Is there a meeting point? Will things ever change?

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