The producers of the controversial Pehredaar Pyar Ki have reiterated that the television serial is a work of fiction that does not promote child marriage. Responding to reports that Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani has asked the Broadcasting Content Complaints Council to study objections to the depiction of a marriage between a 10-year-old boy and an 18-year-old woman, the show’s co-producer and creator, Shashi Mittal, said at a press conference in Mumbai, “We haven’t portrayed anything uncomfortable in the show and do not promote child marriage.”

The show, produced by Shashi and Sumeet Productions, has been raising eyebrows ever since it started airing on July 17 on Sony Television. The plot follows the marital union between 10-year-old Rajput prince Ratan Singh (Afaan Khan) and his 18-year-old caretaker Diya (Tejaswi Prakash), who becomes his wife to protect him from his scheming relatives.

“It is very wrong that people are talking about banning the show,” co-producer Sumeet Mittal said at the press conference. “Most of the people who have signed the petition haven’t watched the show. But if they have signed it after watching the show, then it is their own personal decision.”

The producers have not received any notice from the I&B ministry. “Even if that does happen, we will handle it because we know what we are doing,” Shashi Mittal said.

The Mittals further justified the marriage angle by pointing out that Diya weds Ratan to fulfill his father Mann Singh’s dying wishes. “The character is selfish, but Diya is indebted to him and so she takes the decision herself, without anybody’s compulsion,” Shashi Mittal said. A flashback sequence reveals that Diya was saved by Mann Singh as a child from a rampaging horse.

Recent episodes feature the unlikely couple’s wedding night and also teases the possibility of a honeymoon. “We have not portrayed anything that does not happen in everybody’s house,” Shashi Mittal claimed. “Even in our houses, when a suhaag raat [wedding night] is organised, people talk openly about it. The same is the case with the honeymoon. Every child knows what these concepts are and we have portrayed it naturally. Moreover, both the characters are not willfully doing anything. Both the sequences are forced on them by the villainous characters in the house.”

Mittal had previously told that marriage was the only way Diya could protect Ratan. The makers reiterated the point at the press conference, and disagreed that it might have been easier for Diya to adopt Ratan.

“The character [Mann Singh] did not think about that,” Shashi Mittal said. “At least by means of marriage, the girl will be happy once the boy grows up after 12 years, when their matrimony will be legalised. What life will the girl have being a mother at such a young age?”

Would the plot resort to a time lapse and depict the relationship between Diya and a grown-up Ratan? “When that happens, people will call our show progressive,” Shashi Mittal declared.

Pehredaar Piya Ki.