‘Knee-high protagonists of shows like Uttaran and Balika Vadhu continue to be TRP grabbers’ Calcutta Times, Tuesday, January 6, 2009.
I would like to add one more daily series here, Jai Sri Krishna (Victory of Lord Krishna!). It also has a little protagonist Krishna whose accretion even has been delayed for grabbing TRPs. Even the viewers, who don’t like the soap, like the little adorable child in the role of Krishna. So, here Krishna may grow up in real time rather than screen time (at least something realistic!). The very talented Avika Gor (Anandi), leading Balika Vadhu (Child Bride), and the brilliant actress Sparsh khanchandani (Ichcha) of Uttaran (hand-me-down) also have propagated themselves in primetime slots by their very natural and influential acting.
Therefore, it is now persuaded that ‘India television is riding high on these little shoulders’. We have seen how cute babies can quickly popularize a TV commercial. Thus, this is not a very out of the box concept of giving hits for the creative behind the camera. To them it is another hit formula like saas-bahu. Then, is this the next for Indian TV after saas-bahu saga? Is that all the mature Indian audience deserve? Here one important point I want to bring up that Balika Vadhu is creating history in terms of TRPs. This series is more popular than the other two. All the three have talented, cute and adorable children, then why Balika Vadhu? Here leaves my argument, knee-highs are not the only thing which popularizes these soaps or I can say the secret of the triumph of Balika Vadhu can tell what exactly is liked by the viewers and what exactly the future of Indian TV drama is.
Balika Vadhu is a story of a child bride Anandi. The plot is based on a village of Rajasthan. Like other daily soaps place (Rajasthan) is not just an information here. In every moment of the episodes one can feel the flavor of Rajasthan. From the dialect, consumes, sets, ambiance, rituals, thought process everything is bearing Rajasthan. If we remember Kasauti Jindegi ki, they had introduced that series in a Bengali plot but after some episodes they forgot all about the Bengali quintessence. Though the characters occasionally wore Sanjay Vansali version of Bengali shares!
The most significant difference between Balika Vadhu and other two serials (Uttaran & Jai Sri Krishna) is their way of approaching. The other two are descriptive and divide their characters in black & white, positive & negative. Uttaran is a story of a small poor girl with lots of unfulfilled dreams and the little girl doesn’t understand why everything is unfavorable to her. Her mother is a servant of House. The Malkeen (owner of the house where Ichcha’s mother works) and her mother of Uttaran series are always negative because may be they don’t belong to the class of the protagonist Ichcha. Jai Shree Krishna is the Hindu mythological story of Lord Krishna. The little Krishna wins every fight and always well acclaimed even if he is doing wrong things as he is God. Balika Vadhu gives enough space to all the characters. Every character has both the positive and the negative instinct and everyone has to say something in their support of themselves. In Balika Vadhu the ‘Ma Sa’ Kalyani Devi is the head of the family but she is never a typical mother-in-law. Her activities apparently seem negative but she has some viable points too in support of her activities and the script writer is giving that persona enough space to speak for her. This is where the modern viewers can relate them with the characters and the series gets its huge viewership. I remember in an award show Mr. Pankaj Kapoor got the best negative role award for his role in the film Blue Umbrella. After receiving his award he said in his speech that he didn’t understand why they called the character negative. Where as the character was portrayed as normal human being with his voracity, fear and love. For some reason he is behaving negatively but this doesn’t make him negative. The script writer Purnendu Sekhar and the director Siddharth Sengupta of Balika Vadhu are following this approach and instead defining the characters as positive or negative they are leaving the discourse for the viewers. This is what the viewers enjoying most.
To sum up, I can say saas-bahu, small cute children these are only the ‘changing themes’. The future of Indian TV drama is laying somewhere else. A more detailed and realistic approach and the psycho analysis of the characters; these are what modern spectator deserves and the key to sustain on primetime in the long run.