Sun TV’s ‘Kalyana Veedu’ FINED and told to apologise for vulgar rape sequence

One of the top general entertainment channels in India, Sun TV, has been pulled up by the broadcasting complaints authority for a tasteless, violent gangrape and revenge sequence in one of the serials it airs, Kalyana Veedu. The Broadcasting Content Complaints Council (BCCC) has ordered the channel to pay a fine of Rs 2.5 lakh, and also air a 30-second pre-recorded apology before every airing of Kalyana Veedu for one week. The serial is produced by Thiru Pictures, whose Managing Director M Thirumurugan is the director of Kalyana Veedu and also its protagonist.

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Kalyana Veedu airs on Sun TV from Monday to Saturday on a prime time slot – 7.30 pm. The mega serial on May 14 and 15 this year aired a sequence where a female antagonist hires four men to gangrape her own sister. In a tasteless, long sequence, the character, Roja, instructs the men to be ruthless. In one dialogue, she says, “Listen carefully. The girl you are going to rape is unmarried, a virgin. When you rape her, there should be no mercy or pity in your heart. You should not think that we are doing this to Roja Madam’s sister, she who has paid us. There should be no pity at all. However much she wails, there should be no pity, kindness or mercy. Do you understand?”

The leader of the gang then decides to gangrape Roja herself in order to ‘teach her a lesson’. “I listened to everything you said and imbibed it in my mind – did you think that was for your sister? All that you described is going to happen to you,” the character Selvam tells Roja. He then drags her into the bushes and rapes her, and walks out without his shirt. His henchman then walks up to him, and Selvam tells him, “Go, go! Enjoy!” – giving him his blessings to rape the victim. He says the same to the two other henchmen later.

In a later episode, aired on June 28, another character called Raja helps Roja exact revenge on the rapists by hacking some of them, and setting the others’ genitals on fire.

After several viewers complained, BCCC took up the matter, and the episodes have been removed from the channel’s SunNxt app. However, at the time of writing, a YouTube channel that belongs to Thiru Pictures, with over 1 million subscribers, still carries a clipping of the vulgar rape sequence.

Based on complaints, BCCC sent a notice to Sun TV on June 27 and on August 23, a hearing was held. As per the order, both Sun TV and Thiru Pictures defended the scenes. In its reply, Sun TV said that Kalyana Veedu was a “fictional family-oriented serial that emphasised moral values and good ethics of family and women,” adding that the episodes portrayed the evil nature of the villainous woman character. They also claimed that all precautions were taken by the channel to ensure that the dialogues were not “vulgar and obscene”.

The Producer of Thiru Pictures meanwhile argued that the complainants had not watched their serial “as a whole.”

Upon reviewing the episodes, BCCC has confirmed that the episodes have violated several rules laid down by the regulatory body and ordered the channel to pay a fine of Rs 2.5 lakh. The order, whose copy TNM has accessed, tells the channel to air an apology before playing the episode for six consecutive days from September 23 to 28.

The apology should be: “In compliance with BCCC’s directive of 23 August 2019, SUN TV regrets the prolonged depiction of women’s torture, including scenes of gangrape, in the episodes of ‘Kalyana Veedu’ on 14 and 15th May 2019 and the act of revenge shown in the episode of 28 June 2019. The channel accepts that the social messaging emanating out of the episodes was not constructive and such acts of atrocities committed on women should be condemned.”

A compliance report, along with the original clips of the apology, needs to be submitted at BCCC’s Secretariat on or before October 7.

According to the order, the complaints had stated that such conversation would “encourage atrocities against women, especially when it comes to sorting out family issues and that such content shown on a channel watched by millions will give new ideas to the younger minds.” This serial, through international distribution, airs in countries like Sri Lanka, United States, Canada, UAE, Europe and more.

The order from BCCC notes that the episodes have violated Theme-1 of Indian Broadcasting Foundation’s (IBF) self-regulatory guideline which deals with crime and violence; Category G dealing with parental guidance for Theme 1; Theme 2 of IBF’s self-regulatory guideline which deals with sex, obscenity and nudity; and section 6(1) of the program code that restricts programs that “Denigrates women through the depiction in any manner of the figure of a women, her form or body or any part thereof in such a way as to have the effect of being indecent, or derogatory to women, or is likely to deprave, corrupt or injure the public morality or morals.”

Among the questions raised by BCCC, it also asked Sun TV “how could such conversation and depiction be allowed to be aired? How could a channel allow such ghastly and heinous act to be telecast for three different episodes and this is not the creativity that the channel should be proud of?”

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Both Sun TV and Thiru Pictures declined to comment on the issue to TNM.

The director of Kalyana Veedu, Thirumurugan, gained popularity with the 2002 TV serial Metti Oli and went on to direct the Bharath, Sharanya, Nasser and Vadivelu-starrer Em Magan. Thiru Picture’s Kalyana Veedu began airing on Sun TV on April 16, 2018. – The News Minute TNM

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