02 December 2011

Indian TV Show Hitler Didi Creates Controversy

Bangalore: The popular Indian soap opera aired on Zee TV named “Hitler Didi” stirred controversy because of its title and is under the investigation by an ‘Anti Defamation League’, a U.S. based civil rights group. The civil right group fighting anti-semitism believes that the show is endeavoring to misuse the name of Adolf Hitler, who they consider to be a villain of exceptional evil. The group asked the network’s executives to extract the word “Hitler” from the show’s title and to rename it with something that is “less offensive,” as they feel that the name Hitler should not be used in TV shows.

The group said in a letter to the network’s executives, “Let’s preserve the name ‘Hitler’ as a villain of incomparable evil and not trivialize his legacy or the Holocaust with a serial TV title.”

In this TV show “Hitler didi,” the producers have tried to demonstrate the protagonist named Indira (played by Rati Pandey), who is strict by nature and therefore, she is regarded as “Hitler Didi” in the show. The show also highlights the fact that although Indira is strict, she toils hard to fulfill the needs of her loved ones and assures that there is smile on the faces of her family members.

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, a spokeswoman for Zee TV stated that the channel had received the letter from the rights group; however, they are yet to respond to it. She said that the show’s title has got nothing to do with Hitler himself and clarified that the show is intended to portray the girl’s temperament. The spokeswoman said the show till date has not received any complaints from India on its name.  Later she declined to comment on whether they are considering changing its name.

A member of the civil rights group Abraham H Foxman said, “It was ‘shocking’ that millions of soap opera fans in India are now hearing and talking about a program with the name ‘Hitler’ on a daily basis.”

This kind of a controversial title in India has often annoyed the observers as the German dictators name is used more casually in India than elsewhere to tag a person who is extremely strict and has a dominating nature.

Last year in 2010, renowned Indian actor Anupam Kher opted to back out from the film named “Dear Friend Hitler,” after being condemned by the fans. The Film is featured on the letters that Mahatma Gandhi wrote to Hitler. However, the film was finally made but with a different actor in the lead role. There was also an action packed Hindi movie named “Hitler” that was released in 1998 featuring Mithun Chakravarty in the lead role.

It is often seen that people in the western countries are quite sensitive about using the name of Adolf Hitler who was responsible for the World War II. However, in India there is a different scenario and Hitler’s autobiography “Mein Kampf,” is a huge hit in India. In countries like Austria, Germany and Russia, “Mein Kampf ” is considered to be illegal. It is reported that in one of the book shops in Delhi, the book is the second best-selling work of non-fiction after Mahatma Gandhi’s autobiography. The book is said to be very popular among the business management students in the country, and is also popular among the university students who frequently consider it in their reading list.

A professor at Delhi’s Jawahal Nehru University, Surinder Jodhka, said that in India people can escape by using the name of Hitler in different context as Indians have not directly faced the violence caused by Hitler.