While marriage is touted to be the start of the next big adventure in an individual's life, there are many expectations that one has of their prospective life partners. What would it take for a woman to be accepted as herself? With this core insight, Zee TV set out on a journey to kick-start a movement to create awareness for its upcoming fiction offering Kaleerein. Joining hands with social activist and actor-producer Gul Panag, who believes in living life on her own terms, Zee TV launched the #ChangeHerNot social media experiment through a specially designed website www.MySoniKudi.com.
Designed by Zee TV's digital agency, Big Trunk, MySoniKudi.com gave grooms the option of choosing from gharelu brides, fair-skinned beauties, cooking champions and many more unfortunate, stereotypical moulds that the society has created over the years. With the objective of highlighting the sheer absurdity of this stark reality and to nudge the audience to question these age-old shackles, the matrimonial website was introduced on social media by vocal supporter Gul Panag who criticized the portal for commoditizing brides. While it was disappointing to see the website receiving thousands of registrations from serious prospective grooms within a matter of hours, the social media experiment was truly a success when an exponentially higher volume of noise erupted on Twitter with people crying out in unison against slotting brides into categories and expecting them to change themselves for the sake of marriage.
As the true intent of the website and the #ChangeHerNot campaign was revealed, the overwhelming support from all quarters reflects that Indians are no longer willing to adhere to societal shackles but want to rewrite them to take control of their own destinies, thereby extending a strong support to Zee TV's brand philosophy and content mantra Aaj Likhenge Kal.
Deepak Rajadhyaksha, Deputy Business Head, Zee TV said, “MySoniKudi was aimed at eliciting precisely the kind of strong reactions it has evoked. The sheer absurdity of commoditizing brides is what one wanted to highlight through this initiative and we're thankful to Gul Panag for having joined us in raising our voice. So, while the website isn't real, the issue is. It is sad that to be marriageable, a woman has to be a certain way. From gharelu to sanskaari, fair-skinned to no western clothes, no-career to a great pay package, there are all kinds of customizations expected, making bride-grooming schools that get young women to fit specific moulds a reality. We wanted people to experience the starkness of this harsh reality through MySoniKudi.com and have the nation stand up in unison and say #ChangeHerNot. In fact, our very next fiction offering Kaleerein tackles this subject head-on, showcasing the journey of Meera, a small-town bride who refuses to bow down to the diktats of bride grooming and celebrates her individuality. Through her example, the idea is to help Indian women free themselves from the mould of a stereotypical bride, earning them the right to find a groom who is willing to accept them the way they are.”
Actor Gul Panag said, “I've always lived life on my own terms and believed that my individuality marks my uniqueness. So the mere thought that one should have to change herself, especially for marriage is revolting! So, when Zee TV approached me with legit research on the disturbing trend of grooming schools that serve as finishing schools for brides and get them to fit certain pre-conceived moulds, I was more than happy to support them and help create awareness about the issue. The MySoniKudi portal, with its customised gori chitti bride, sanskaari bride, no western clothes bride and other absurd demands, was meant to elicit precisely the strong reactions that it has evoked. I am extremely happy to see social media in outrage. But, while the website isn't real, the issue is. It's high time that we leave behind the mindless traditions and start a conversation on #ChangeHerNot! I want to thank the Zee TV team for not only raising this issue in the country, but also for making shows like Kaleerein which address this subject. It's a source of encouragement for young women across the country urging them to hold on to their identity, celebrate their individuality and not change themselves for marriage. Good luck for this venture guys!”
Along with the #ChangeHerNot campaign, Zee TV has planned a series of ATL and BTL activations to create awareness about the unfair expectations that one has from a prospective bride, and highlight the concept of Kaleerein amongst the relevant target audiences.
Kaleerein is the story of Meera, a small-town girl from Punjab, who chooses to assert her individuality against the reality of bride grooming schools that are mushrooming all over Punjab; schools that prescribe a bucket-list of must-have qualities for a bride to land the perfect groom. A free-spirited girl who wants to live life on her own terms, Meera values her uniqueness and is in search of a suitor who will accept her for the person she truly is. Making her debut as the effervescent Meera will be debutante Aditi Sharma while popular actor Arjit Taneja will be seen as the male protagonist in the show. Kaleerein is co-produced by Nikhil Sinha and Priya Mishra of Triangle Films and will go on air starting 5th February 2018 and air every Monday to Friday at 7:30 pm on Zee TV.
Soon after Zee TV's brand refresh campaign announcing its core philosophy Aaj Likhenge Kal that instantly struck a chord with its heartwarming films, each of the channel's subsequent campaigns building each of its new offerings – be it #LicenceToLove promoting Aapke Aa Jane Se or #ChangeHerNot for Kaleerein have resonated beautifully with the Indian middle class, an indicator of Zee TV's finger on the pulse of its audience.
Report By: Anuj Talpade
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