[AI] Insensitive serial ads cause furore

Vishnu Ramchandani vishnu.ramchandani at mphasis.com
Thu Jun 24 01:37:50 EDT 2010

Advertisements to promote some TV serials that use terms deemed
derogatory for the differently abled are earning the wrath of activists.

One such ad, for a TV drama Shorr... Goongi Kankoo Ki Bolti Kahani on
SaharaOne, shows the protagonist as a mute girl in a bridal outfit, with
a tagline   'Kyun karega koi goongi se shaadi' (Why would anyone marry a
mute girl?) uses the term goongi, considered an insult. 

The ad for Sony TV's Maan Rahe Tera Pitaah, uses the phrase "mad man" to
describe the mentally challenged father of the protagonist. Activists
are threatening legal action. 

"Such regressive ads are not acceptable.... We will lodge an official
complaint with the I&B Ministry... We have an archaic law, the
Disability Law of 1995, which needs urgent amendment...," said Javed
Abidi, convenor, Disabled Rights Group. 

Uma Kapoor, secretary of NGO Delhi Foundation of Deaf Women, and a mute
and deaf person, wrote in an email, "We have  seen inappropriate terms
being used by channels to describe disability conditions .... The
serials are made with a positive approach, but their promotion should
not reflect roughly on the physically/mentally disabled characters."

Ad professionals too are shocked. Ad Guru Alyque Padmsee said, "Ad
writers today do anything to be sensational...  Though I am
anti-censorship, I urge the producers of these serials to reconsider
their ads..."

The channels say such ads are part of the marketing strategy. "In our
show, the lead actress cannot speak, and so we have used it in the ad.
But the story is positive and not regressive," says Sheetal Ladha,
Sahara One Television.


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