1000 and Counting!

July 21, 2008. New Hindi GEC ‘Colors’ launched, with much of its hype centered around Akshay Kumar starrer Khatron Ke Khiladi. In the next few weeks, the channel turned out to the one of the most fantastic success stories of Indian television. At the heart of this success story was not Akshay Kumar, but a sprightly little girl called Anandi, and her show Balika Vadhu. A show that completes 1,000 episodes today. A show that changed so much on Indian television that you can also make a show on its impact itself!

Balika Vadhu

Balika Vadhu has been extremely special to me. Ormax Media was founded on July 28, 2008, a week after Colors launched. Most of our early projects centered around Hindi GECs, where understanding audience habits & preferences related to serials accounted for about 90% of our work. During this period, we could not escape Balika Vadhu, even if we wanted to. No matter which channel we did a research for, we ended up discovering Balika Vadhu in the progress. After a point, our understanding of the program was so deep and wholesome, I almost felt I knew more about it than the channel and the production house itself.

Personally too, I was enamored by the show. Till then, daily serials had a certain “low-life” feel to them, in my mind. With Balika Vadhu, this perception took new shape and form altogether. The characters were real. The situations were unfamiliar yet believable. The visual authenticity stood out. The serial was so, for the lack of a better word, charismatic.

Balika Vadhu can take the credit for several trends it has set over the last 200 weeks. Social issues, now milked to near-death across GECs, came into the forefront after Balika Vadhu succeeded. The serial’s success also meant that stories moved out of living rooms and kitchens to various parts of India. Soon, we had “UP wala serial” and “Bihar wala serial” being used to described serials. A trend started by “Anandi wala serial”.

Those who aren’t closely associated with GECs with struggle to appreciate this, but Balika Vadhu infused the “seekh” element into the life of the GEC viewer in a more heightened manner than ever before. It was about hope and positivity, about being an enabler of change in the society at large, about being a guide and a teacher to its viewers.

Notice how most of my post has been written in the past tense. Yes, at some point, I began to lose touch with the serial. Once Anandi grew up and the actor changed, it took me a while, like most viewers, to reorient myself to this change. I have to say my loyal viewing days of the serial are now behind me.

But here’s the thing. Every now and then, I sample it. And whenever I do that, I know that the purity has remained completely in tact. There is no adulteration. For example, Balika Vadhu will never use a Hindi film song in its background. The slogans in the end are still powerful and well-written. Anoop Soni and Surekha Sikri remain these great actors who have become the part, over years of playing the part. I may not be a loyalist any more, but I’m a fan for life anyway.

I’m going to be glued to the TV screen tonight to watch the 1000th episode of the oldest running daily show on Hindi GECs (a week older than Tarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah). I’m rooting for Anandi as she gets set to meet a new guy in her life. And like all special episodes, I know they will play the magical title track at the start.

Once a fanboy, always a fanboy.

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About Shailesh Kapoor

Founder & CEO - Ormax Media. Film Lover. Media Insights Detective. Budding Author. Lifelong Student.
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9 Responses to 1000 and Counting!

  1. Shreyash Sampat says:

    Beautifully articulated !! Indeed Colors was the pioneer in redefining GECs, shifting the focus from the typical run-of-the-mill type shows. Infact, if you look at the initial programming of the channel, it had all the ingredients of a successful GEC i.e. a big ticket show in the form of Khhatron Ke Khiladi, along with issue oriented shows such as Balika Vadhu, fictional and slice of life shows such as Uttaran. The big ticket show provided them the much needed eyeballs whereas the supporting shows helped sustain the channel once KKK was off air. It purely concentrated on 4 important factors – brand name, programming content, packaging and people. What remains beautiful about the channel is that it constantly tried to reinvent itself by focusing on slice-of-life GECs rather than being a part of the rat race. Indeed, it is not amongst the top 3 GECs but it surely played a crucial role in shaping the thought process of the countrymen. Now that’s real edutainment.

  2. Rohan Pujari says:

    Balika Vadhu is one of the few serials on Indian Television that has remained true to it’s promise. The serial started off with the theme of highlighting the ills of child-marriage and has continued to do so even in it’s 1000th episode. It would have been very easy for the channel to show Anandi and Jagdish living happily together, but they refrained from doing so. Kudos to Colors!!

  3. Akshay says:

    What a heartfelt piece. Its the first time that I’m seeing a male viewer write so emotively about a TV soap. Balika Vadhu was indeed a path breaking show, and I’m sure it will remain one for years to come.

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