By Diya Barmecha
Manyavar is known for its new and fun ads. However, recently their new Mohey, bridal wear brand, advertisement starring Alia Bhatt has the internet divided. Advertisements are used as teasers of the band to persuade the audience to buy the product. However, other than the usual typical ads of just naming the advantages and disadvantages, there are some advertisements that go above and beyond and try to tackle social issues, create change and spread a progressive message. This particular advertisement tried to use the wedding as a setting to suggest an alternative to the Hindu ritual of ‘Kanyadaan’ to ‘Kanyamaan’.
Kanyadaan is a Sanskrit word which means to give away the daughter. As the name suggests and as you may already know, this is a Hindu ritual where the father of the bride gives the daughter to the groom. This ritual is highly deep rooted and revered. The ideology behind it is that the groom is considered to be Lord Vishnu at the time of the wedding and the kanyadaan is the biggest and best offering the parents can make to God. It is believed that this ritual will also purify the parents of all their sins. Their gift to Lord Vishnu is their prosperity of life, their daughter. It is a moment of pride. However, this advertisement is based on the assumption that the Kanyadaan is a disrespectful thing to the daughters. Ironically many may think that it is the most respectful thing because if the parents are giving a gift to God, they would want to give their daughter since she is their pride.
On the other hand, many believe that the advertisement is trying to encourage parity or benign equal. Since in the last scene the parents of the groom also give their son away. The advertisement put their slogan as “Tradition wahi, Soch Nayi”(Same tradition with a new thought process). They have propagated this by adding the slogan of #KanyaMaan. Where some say that is this porgressive, much needed and a call to change, others are viewing it as a marketing gimmick by taking the Maan from Manyavar. It can be seen as progressive in terms of changing the fact of giving the daughter away as she is a property to be given away. This is because even women deserve respect. However, the simple fact remains that the advertisement tried to question Hindu rituals that have been going on for ages.
There is a very thin line between progressive suggestions and disrespectful suggestions when it comes to rituals and this advertisement blurs the line. You can see it from both ways. According to tradition and culture it is the most revered thing the parents can do for their daughter but on the other hand they are referring to the daughter as something they can give away. More than just the debate on whether it’s right or wrong in the eyes of society, it’s also important to see if it was a smart decision on Manyavar’s part because sure, people are talking about the advertisement a lot more, but this also might just be the reason many would want to boycott the company as a whole as well. After an exclusive interview with Bijay Anand, the actor who played the role of Alia Bhatt’s father in the advertisement, I was able to understand that like most things,there will always be a positive side as well as a negative side “this is the nature of mankind,” he said, “This is the case with even Gods and religion. Therefore, something as mundane as an advertisement will also have a positive and a negative”. He further talks about the advertisement in the interview and says that the “Writer was not trying to address the concept of kanyadaan but instead how we treat women ”. When talking about support for or against the advertisement, he very rightly said that both sides have a story that needs to be said and heard.
On the whole, movies can be a huge catalyst for change. Actor Bijay Anand even says, “When you go to watch a film it is to get a new perspective. If you knew what you were going to see, would you go?” Our personal opinion is different from the entire cycle of films and advertisements proposing new ideas for change. The industry will go on to produce such works and the actors will continue to act. The audience is doing its job right by watching and reacting to this and putting their opinion forward. The Manyavar ad brought forward an idea. This idea might not have sparked a change but it did start a conversation, a very important conversation of respecting women which may not have been rightly or wrongly related to ‘Kanyadaan’.