Joined: 14 October 2005
NEW DELHI: "Balika Vadhu", a TV show on child marriage, has become one of the most watched soaps on small screen. Its writer Purnendu Shekhar says it was originally a movie script, written 16 years back.
"I originally wrote the script for a film in 1992. But at that time I was writing for other shows and didn't have time to contact people and narrate the story," Shekhar said from Mumbai.
Shekhar has earlier been associated with shows like "Saat Phere", "Kumkum", "Astitva", and "Saathi Re". In 1996, he joined Zee TV as the senior programming executive.
His current show "Balika Vadhu" primarily revolves around child bride Anandi, who is married off to an equally young boy Jagdish. The girl is thus unable to have a joyful childhood and is bound by her in-laws' customs instead.
When Shekhar wanted to make a film on the subject, he had titled it "Ehsaas". But when his script was adopted for the TV serial, "Balika Vadhu" was finalised.
"I knew the title 'Balika Vadhu' fits the show perfectly, but I was not so keen on it because a film of the same name was made in Bengali. Later, the film was made in Hindi too. The film was not on child marriage, but I had my reservations about the title being the same," Shekhar said.
Child marriage as a social evil was of immense concern to Shekhar who hails from Rajasthan where people still practise it.
"I have seen a lot of people getting married at a young age. My mother got married when she was 15 years old. My father was 23 years old at the time of marriage. Child marriage is an important issue and no one has addressed it seriously till now," he said.
He quoted government figures and said: "This is not a thing of the past. Almost six million child marriages take place every year. It happens even now. It is just our ignorance that we don't know about it."
Shekhar says when he approached established channels for 'Balika Vadhu', it was rejected, saying only formula-based scripts work for their channels.
"Change is not acceptable to them (older channels) and they are not experimental. My story has no formula. It is a simple story with a simple narrative," he said.
Though the motive behind "Balika Vadhu" is to create awareness about the evil of child marriage, Shekhar clarified that he is not intending to begin a revolution.
"The show is making people think about the issue and that is the basic purpose. One of my friend's helpers watches the show daily and looking at Anandi's plight, even she keeps thinking and talking about whether or not she should get her young child married."
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