|HOME | MOVIES | BILLBOARD|
|February 20, 2001||
'It's as if a family member has died!'
Runima Borah Tandon
Balaji Telefilms's Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi has captured the imagination of households across India. That is wellknown. The late night television serial has the highest ratings in the land, even surpassing its Amitabh Bachchan-anchored Star channel sibling, Kaun Banega Crorepati.
The serial hit the headlines last fortnight when one of its lead characters, Mihir Virani, played by Amar Upadhyay, was 'killed' in a road accident. Protests outside the Balaji office in Andheri, northwest Bombay, followed. Countless mails and incessant phone calls asked for Mihir to be reinstated in the plot.
Viewers could not believe Mihir -- who plays the husband of the serial's protagonist Tulsi -- was no longer part of their daily television fare. This is probably the first time an Indian television serial has evoked such responses from its audience.
Says Monisha Singh, assistant creative director, Balaji Telefilms, "We have been flooded with so many phone calls. We didn't expect such a response. Many people said their children have not eaten after Mihir's 'death'. It's not that we did this to create the hype. This turn of events was already there in the script. We have been telling people to wait and watch because the future episodes will be just as interesting."
Says Upadhyay, "The response has been fantastic. The love they have shown for my character is amazing. Mihir's death has made me realise how cherished my character is. Since the inception, I knew my character would not be there after the 27th episode."
"There was this lady who called to say she had lost her son in a similar manner," the actor recalls. "She cried a lot and remembered her son when Mihir 'died'. I would like to tell my viewers not to mix up real life with television and films. Viewers should take things lightly and enjoy the serial as it happens."
He is one of the most frequently seen faces on television today and appears in serials like Kalash, Mehendi, etc. The actor says he now looks towards films for more creative satisfaction. Balaji Telefilms, which is promoted by Bollywood star Jeetendra's wife Shobha and daughter Ekta Kapoor, has promised him a film.
Smriti Malhotra, who plays Tulsi, says, "I am overwhelmed by the audience reaction. It is as if a member of their family is dead. They have taken it very personally. I have never seen such a reaction to a television series."
Smriti, a former contestant for the Miss India crown, did not think the serial would reach such heights of popularity. "When I signed the serial, Shobha Kapoor assured me it would have an amazing impact, and it would benefit me as an actress."
"Now that Mihir is dead," she says, "there are certain variations in Tulsi's relationship with members of the family and in her outlook to life. So it is going to be more interesting than it was." Until Mihir's death, Tulsi had a troubled and uneasy relationship with her mother-in-law played by Apara Mehta.
After working in Kyunki Saas... people have started identifying her with her small screen character. "They treat me like the character they see on screen, and not as an actor. For an actor this is the biggest compliment. I think that has been my biggest reward."
Kyunki Saas... is the creation of Ekta Kapoor, producer and creative head of Balaji Telefilms. So how did she hit upon this concept? "It stuns me every time I think of it," says the 25 year old who has made television history by notching up several top rated shows this past year. "You never know when and where ideas enter your mind. I had a thought which I elaborated upon. My luck was good and it clicked."
Says Monisha, "Ekta came up with the concept and we developed it at various levels. We are simply trying to show the saas-bahu relationship and, at the same time, portray a joint family.
"We wanted to highlight the fact that tiffs happen in a joint family, but when an outsider tries to instigate a rift or when the family is confronted with a problem, they all stand as one. That is the basic thought behind the serial. No matter what happens at home, they are one when pitted against the outside world."
Ekta, who works alongside a team of creative writers and directors, is involved in every aspect of the serial. Says she: "When they give me a script, I hear the story and make the changes. I show them a path but if they show me a better one, I am game for it. I don't create for them. I give them a lot of creative independence."
Higher ratings mean a great deal more pressure on the creative team. So how does Balaji cope with the pressure?
Says Monisha, "Kyunki Saas... getting high ratings translates into a lot of pressure for us. We try and give every episode our best shot.
"It is a team effort -- right from scripting and editing to whatever is delivered to the channel. Everyone puts in a lot of effort to meet expectations. We try, at every level, to make the episode just as interesting as the previous one. I would describe Kyunki Saas… as having a mixture of everything. It's got comedy, romance, emotions and drama. Our effort is to make every aspect, including the side tracks, as engaging as possible."
Tell us what you think of this report
ASTROLOGY | NEWSLINKS | BOOK SHOP | MUSIC SHOP | GIFT SHOP | HOTEL BOOKINGS
AIR/RAIL | WEDDING | ROMANCE | WEATHER | WOMEN | E-CARDS |
HOMEPAGES | FREE MESSENGER | FREE EMAIL | CONTESTS | FEEDBACK