Anil Thakraney: Balika Vadhu: 1000! Wow!

16 May,2012

By Anil Thakraney


I don’t watch many TV soaps these days, and to claim that I am too busy for such mindless entertainment will be a fashionable excuse to give. The truth is that most serials haven’t caught my attention in recent years, simply because the plots are either uninteresting or rehashed. But one soap has made the cut for me, I still watch it whenever I am at home at 8pm. And that’s Balika Vadhu.


And I was staggered to hear that the serial has just completed 1000 episodes. That’s a lot of airtime by any stretch of imagination. While it may no longer be No 1 on the ratings chart, it’s equally true that Balika continues to hold the nation’s living rooms enthralled. The loyalists have remained with it for years.


The story of Balika is indeed the story of Colors itself. The show provided a massive launch platform for the channel, and the latter hasn’t looked back since then. I think the main reason the soap has held its own for so long is that when it first hit the small screen, viewers had begun to tire of all those over-the-top saas-bahu dramas set in a Juhu villa. The garish make-up, the hamming, the shrieks of the women in the huge household, dead characters suddenly springing to life, etc… the nation was ready for some real freshness.


Balika quietly came and filled the vacuum. The setting was rural, the characters very real. Simple people who acted simply and were true-to-life. The child marriage story was, of course, the novelty. It worked, and the characters instantly became household names. But what’s most important is that the makers of the show did not lose steam along the way. Even as there’s been a time jump, the characters remain grounded in reality, and we connect with their problems and their life dilemmas. In one word I would say Balika’s success is embedded in its sincerity. Sincerity of its actors and its directors.


I am not sure how much longer the serial will continue. 1000 episodes is already a huge run. But I am certain to be there till the last ball is bowled.


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PS: To celebrate this year’s Cannes Film Fest, some art directors have re-created posters for iconic films. Wonderful. Gives me an idea: Why don’t contemporary art directors from our ad world re-create posters for legendary ads from the bygone era?

Should be fun. Perhaps a competition can be held to make this happen. This will also

help art directors in ad agencies make their presence felt.



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