A teaser from Vijay TV’s upcoming serial ‘Thendral Vanthu Ennai Thodum’ was condemned by many including SP Varun Kumar, who pointed out the state’s laws on harassment of women.

Screengrab from Thendral Vanthu Ennai Thodum teaser videoScreengrab/ Twitter- Vijay TV
Flix Harassment Monday, July 26, 2021 - 14:40

A teaser video from Vijay TV’s upcoming Tamil serial Thendral Vanthu Ennai Thodum, which was released on Sunday, July 25, has caught the attention of many social media users, and not for positive reasons. Many have pointed out how the video is sexist and problematic, and promotes the harassment of women. Clad in a saree, the female lead Abhinaya walks out of her car, and into the temple along with other women in the video. An older woman lauds her for not “giving up on our traditions” despite completing her education in the US. Responding to her, Abhinaya laughs and says, “Even if we study abroad, do we give up on our traditions?”  

Shortly after Abhinaya offers her prayers inside the temple, we see the male protagonist, a thug, locking horns with a newly-wed couple for getting married without their parents’ ‘permission and blessings’. “Is this a marriage or a robbery”, he shouts. He even goes on to break off their marriage by snatching the woman’s thaali (mangalsutra). At this point, Abhinaya intervenes and points out how the couple got married in front of the temple deity. She slaps the male lead and questions how he is entitled to nullify the couple’s relationship.  

In an attempt to prove his point, he drags Abhinaya, forcibly ties a thaali around her neck, and questions whether she has become his wife solely because of the thaali he tied in front of the temple deity. A teary eyed and shocked Abhinaya, follows in his footsteps and walks behind him towards the end of the video, instead of objecting to the forced marriage. With that, the makers announce that the serial will be out soon.  

Several users took to Twitter to express their objections and condemn the video. Sharing the clip, Kavitha Muralidharan, an independent journalist, tweeted: “Tamil serials and their toxicity.” In response to Kavitha’s tweet, Superintendent of Police, Tiruvallur, Dr Varun Kumar IPS, pointed out how the video contradicts the law by highlighting that Section 4 of the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Harassment of Women Act prohibits harassment of women within the premises of places of worship. 

“Whoever commits or participates in or abets harassment of woman in or within the precincts of any educational institution, temple or other place of worship, bus stop, road, railway station, cinema theater, park, beach, place of festival, public service vehicle or vessel or any other place shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and with fine which shall not be less than ten thousand rupees,” Dr Varun Kumar IPS posted. 

The tweet was reshared by many, and many commented that it is important for television serials to be socially responsible and portray a better understanding of the law. Some even opined that the makers should have depicted Abhinaya filing a complaint against the man, rather than appearing to have complied with the forced marriage that took place without her consent. 

A section of netizens also observed how the makers of Tamil soaps justify harassment and abuse of women by portraying the lead female characters as “holy” and “traditional” wives, and antagonise women who press charges against the perpetrators upon encountering instances of abuse and harassment. Some also mentioned how the storylines continue to reiterate and normalize regressive and patriarchal narratives where no one points fingers at the male characters for their toxicity.  

Read: Thaali sentiment to justifications for rape: The bizarre world of Tamil serials 

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