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In Session: Understanding Transnational in Asian Media: Rebuilding Asian Subjectivity Through Trans-Asian Convergence of Media, Technology, Narrative, and Culture
4: The Child Bride: Unpacking the Popularity of the Indian Television Show Balika Vadhu in Vietnam
Friday, March 26, 2021
8:30am – 10:00am EDT
Indian Institute of Management Lucknow, India
This paper examines the popular reception of Indian soap opera Balika Vadhu (Child Bride) in Vietnam. Balika Vadhu, whose plot is centered on struggles of a child bride Anandi, was broadcast in India for a period of eight years from 2008 to 2016 and was first aired in Vietnam in 2014 with a great success. In order to make sense of the extraordinary success of this Indian soap in Vietnam, the paper turns to cultural reception theories and global cultural economy and argues that the success of Balika Vadhu in Vietnam is attributable to the themes explored in the show that resonate well with the material and social reality of people in some parts of Vietnam. It also pays particular attention to the television viewing culture in Vietnam that renders television viewing into a communal, familial activity. While the culture of watching together is relatively common across Asia, the paper posits that it assumes special significance in the socio-political context of post-war communist Vietnam and in the rapidly developing urban centers of the country with their changing family structure. By closely analyzing Balika Vadhu and its audience reception in Vietnam, the paper investigates how this Indian soap manages to maintain and reinforce the traditional viewing culture of watching together in Vietnam and how this may have contributed to the soap’s transnational success.