The channel, Colors was launched on 21st July 2008 with the show Balika Vadhu – Kacchi Umar ke Pakke Rishte, and as soon as it was launched, it took the entire nation by storm and made the innocent child bride Anandi (Avika Gor) a household name. Now even after a long run of five years, the serial is still doing great and while Anandi (now played by Toral Rasputra) has moved on from being a child bride to a mature young lady who has re-married a man (Shiv, played by Siddharth Shukla) of her choice, the show never left its focus – that of highlighting the issue of child marriage along with other important social issues.
So, in the current track we see a character Ganga (Sriti Jha) who too is a victim of early marriage and with a child of her own, is seen fighting for justice against an abusive older husband with the help of Anandi, Jagya and others. This has been one show which never shifted its focus and continued to highlight several issues related to women empowerment. Apart from child marriage, the other issues which have been depicted in the show have been marital rape, remarriage, illiteracy, infidelity, selling off girls of marriageable age for money, getting young girls to marry older men and so on.
However, while it is always all the actors of the show who hog the limelight when the show achieves a certain benchmark, we at TellyBuzz thought of bringing to you the story of how Balika Vadhu came into existence more than five years back.
Yes, it was more than five years back that this show was written. Apparently, the concept originated in the mind of writer Purnendu Shekhar who wrote this as a film script way back in 1992. Purnendu who had come to Mumbai to make it big as an actor went back home after a longish struggle only to be called back by director Ravi Rai who persuaded him to come back from his hometown Jaipur to write for his tele-serial Imtihaan.
The script however didn't see the light of the day till Ashwini Yardi who was in the process of shifting from Zee TV to the yet to be launched Colors as the Programming Head was looking for something different. She came searching for a different kind of script to Purnendu with whom she had worked on earlier – Purnendu had written for Astitva, Saat Phere on Zee and they had a good working equation. That is when Purnendu narrated the much rejected script of Balika Vadhu to her and even though she was initially shocked about the child marriage system still being prevalent in India she decided to go ahead with the show. Ashwini had so much faith in the show that she had predicted then itself that the show has the potential to go on for a long time.
Finally, as Sunjoy Wadhwa and Comall Wadhwa took over the mantle of being producers for the show, Balika Vadhu was born and thus started the trend of village based shows. Since the show is based on real life experiences from Rajasthan it brings in consistent conviction to the story which reflects in the encouraging TRP ratings too.
The story development is jointly done by Purnendu Shekhar and Gajara Kottary. Gajara who has been an acclaimed writer of many shows earlier too had worked with Purnendu on Asititva and shared his vision. With continued research about the place where the show is set as well as about the laws that are followed, both of them manage to come up with interesting and convincing stories and characters who fit into the story and help it take forward logically.
Doing the screenplay writing is Rajesh Dubey who has been a writer since 1995. Originally from Indore where he used to write, direct and act in plays, Rajesh has been a major contributor along with dialogue writers - Usha Dixit and Raghuvir Shekhawat. Giving voices to the characters, Usha and Raghuvir come up with articulate and to the point dialogues according to the characters depicted. The duo share the responsibility of doing research to bring in genuineness to the word spoken while also keeping in mind the background of the story and the characters, their social status as well as the basic lingo spoken in those areas. The dialogues peppered with the usage of local reference terms like 'dadisa', 'maasa', 'beend' and 'beendani' have so far successfully managed to retain authenticity.
While Raghuvir is originally from Rajasthan, renowned dialogue writer Usha Dixit is from Bhopal. Usha who started off as a child artiste for radio came to Mumbai long back and started with writing for DD shows. She then turned to direction till she shifted back to writing with Kahaani Ghar Ghai Ki and Astitva and has continued writing ever since. Usha who's contribution to making the dialogues and the show popular maintains that she will never leave TV even if she moves on to do films at a later stage.
Many maintain that Television is a writer's medium and with Balika Vadhu's core writing team staying the same for the past five years has definitely proved that it helped the show garner success.
Credit is also due to the directors who helm the show – Siddharth Sengupta and Pradeep Yadav. Siddharth Sengupta has been the one who started off with the show and set the pace. He has been the one who has directed all those episodes which showed Anandi as the child bride explaining the difficult and sometimes uncomfortable scenes to her while at the same time manage senior actors like Surekha Sikri, Anoop Soni, Rajendra Gupta, etc. Pradeep Yadav who took over once the show was set and is continuing with the show so far is equally passionate about the show. His work has been acknowledged by many in the industry as they talk about how he treats his characters with a compassion found in very few directors around.
Last but not the least, the major and unique contribution is of Shri Meghraj Shrimali, who writes the one line slogans with which each episode comes to an end. A known writer, journalist from Jaipur, Shri Shrimali also happens to be Purnendu Shekhar's father. Once the freeze point of each episode is decided it is communicated to him and as per the brief he comes up with 3-4 slogans out of which one is finalized by Purnendu. The slogans reflect the general thinking of the society and sometimes even suggests positive changes, a pattern that has been followed after every episode without fail for the last five years.
Ashwini Yardi's prediction did come true with the vision now being carried forward by the current fiction head, Colors – Prashant Bhatt and his team. Last year at the completion of 1000 episodes of Balika Vadhu, apart from the grand episode which introduced Siddharth Shukla as the collector and as Anandi's new beendh, Colors also recognized the efforts of a real life Anandi – Lakshmi Sargara of Jodhpur who had the courage to annul her child marriage.
With so much of success achieved by Balika Vadhu, it is clear that a show with a social message along with realistic drama had the potential to reach out to the audience not only in small cities but managed to strike a chord with the metro audience as well.
Seema Khot Mattoo