An advertisement (above) by a mosquito repellant brand has come disguised as a public service announcement. The message? Stand up for tough mothers.

With over 6.4 million views and counting, the advertisement went viral quickly. Clearly, there’s plenty of support for – or curiosity about – the proposition: “Mothers are often criticised for being tough on their children. It’s time we stood by them.”

Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Shoojit Sircar, the ad portrays a joint family eating a meal together, when a boy throws a tantrum and refuses to eat his dinner. His mother’s response, followed by the reactions to it, is the crux of the story.

The advertiser’s strategy of telling a story was clearly successful, with comments pouring in on social media. One Facebook user commented:

“I understand that the message of this video is important but does anyone see how the two bahus (daughters-in-law) are being portrayed here? Whilst everyone is sitting and eating, why are they serving everyone in the big family. Is this the future of modern Indian women and households? It’s time we moved away from ads like this and showcase messages in more relatable settings and environment. Ads/videos like this which have a strong message with an underlining role of non equality are more hurtful than impactful. It tends to normalise something that the modern India woman is trying very hard to move away from.”

Another correctly pointed out that they’d noticed a similar phenomenon in several Indian films and dramas, but a Facebook user tried to justify the patriarchal setup with this comment:

“I think they deliberately showed the woman in a subservient role to bring out the contrast that despite being lorded over by the large family, the woman held her own while disciplining a child...children often get spoilt in a joint family because there are old grandparents and younger uncles and aunts to indulge them even if a parent says no to something. It is often tough for well meaning parents to take tough decisions related to their child. On another note, Joint families despite their advantages for some, often do not encourage great displays of individuality because so many people are living together and some sameness is needed to keep the flock together.”