Joined: 06 August 2008
A little girl with a most winsome smile given in marriage to a rural household has a nation glued to the box, lapping up its purposeful social message against child-brides.
DESPITE a high-voltage campaign against child marriage, the practice is far from being eliminated, especially in the Hindi heartland.
At a conservative estimate, over half a million child marriages take place annually without nary a thought for the law, which explicitly prohibits such unions and prescribes a hefty penalty and imprisonment for the offenders.
It obviously takes more than a legal decree to end centuries-old social ills. Societies evolve rather slowly. Several factors from education and awareness to general economic prosperity can bring about the necessary change.
Paradoxically, the same society which witnesses nearly 50% of its annual marital alliances solemnised well below the legal age of marriage – 18 for girls and 21 for boys – has lapped up a television serial which is a direct assault against this pernicious practice.
The super-duper success of Balika Vadhu, a daily serial, is also the reason for the popularity of the recently-launched television channel, Colors.
The serial, whose main character is a little girl who is married before she attains puberty to an equally young groom, has riveted the eyeballs of a huge number of Indians since its launch in July.
Sociologists might like to explore the reasons for its success in a society which, as a rule, looks the other way when 10- and 12-year-old girls are made to tie the nuptial knot, often with males twice or thrice their age.
Also, in a number of cases even the groom is below the legal age of marriage when bound in matrimony to a child-bride.
If the practice is so widespread that ordinary people accept it as a necessary evil, then what explains the serial's stupendous success.
Or is it like the staple Bollywood fare which invariably focuses on the good overcoming the evil? And yet in real life most cine-goers continue to indulge in all the malpractices prevalent in society, be it the generation of black money, bribes, cheating, et al.
The popular endorsement of evil meeting its comeuppance at the hands of a just and fair hero on the big screen would make you believe that there is revulsion against wrong-doing.
Yet, once outside the cinema hall, audiences go back to being their normal selves, cutting moral and legal corners. It is this dichotomy in social behaviour which the success of Balika Vadhu has exploited to the hilt.
The serial is popular not only in urban centres like Delhi, Mumbai, etc., but also in the rural hinterland in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh – the cow-belt states where the practice of child marriage is most prevalent.
Enough of pop sociology. A word about the serial now. It is about a little girl with a most winsome smile, called Anandi, who is given in marriage to a rural household ruled with an iron-fist by a matriarch who brooks no opposition.
Her cute little innocent ways, her struggle to continue school after marriage and its disruption later, her equally naive husband, make for eminently watchable prime time television.
Not a typical saas-bahu (mother-in-law, daughter-in-law) fare, the serial still retains a strong element of the confrontation generally present in traditional homes between a martinet matriarch and a long-suffering newly-wed daughter-in-law.
In Balika Vadhu, there is a parallel track to the enchanting Anandi's struggle to cope with her suddenly altered circumstances. The elder son of the family is married a second time after his first wife, also a child bride, died while giving birth to a stillborn baby.
The second wife is young enough to be the daughter of the man she is married to due to her parents' extreme poverty. But she is a bit of a rebel and challenges her mother-in-law whenever the latter is unreasonable, which is most of the time.
While Anandi wins over audiences with her cute ways and obeys her mother-in-law – she is too small to protest – her sister-in-law defies her dictatorial mother-in-law.
Aside from keeping the audiences glued, the serial is meaningful television. It depicts the societal wrongs of child marriage, young widows, sexual mismatch, loss of childhood, child-women as chattels in matrimonial homes, pitfalls of child birth, without ever being preachy.
It doesn't moralise, doesn't hector. Yet, it manages to send across a powerful social message.
Thanks to the serial, the young Anandi – Avika Gor in real life – has become a household name.
Attired in traditional matrimonial finery, complete with an over-sized nose ring, she is seen staring from big billboards advertising the new channel and, of course, Balika Vadhu.
Interviewed the nth time by print and television media, it turns out that she is the youngest actor the nation has fallen in love with.
Asked about her ambition, she did not bat an eyelid to say it was to become Miss World or Miss Universe – and then, presumably, follow others before her like Aishwarya Rai, Sushmita Sen and Priyanka Chopra into mainstream Bollywood stardom.
Talking of paradoxes, the success of Balika Vadhu, has led to the demise of several long-running saas-bahu serials on various general entertainment channels.
Among the victims is the Ekta Kapoor-owned serial factory which named all its serials beginning with the letter K on astrological grounds.
Indeed, the Star channel, owned by Rupert Murdoch, terminated its long-term contract production contract with Kapoor after her family soaps began to return poor viewership ratings.
Even the old and always reliable mythological serials such as the Ramayana and Mahabharata had begun to induce a sense of fatigue among television viewers.
The success of Balika Vadhu – or is it really the winning appeal of its cute little child-bride – marks the maturity of television audiences. They can accept a serial with a purposeful social message provided it is well done.
Considering that there are a dozen general entertainment channels competing for the nation's eyeballs at prime time, it is no mean achievement that a well-produced serial with child actors depicting one of the perennial social evils should take audiences by storm.
Colors, the channel showing Balika Vadhu notched up the number two slot within weeks of its launch due to that lovely little girl called Anandi.
Source : The Star Online
Joined: 06 August 2008
Joined: 06 August 2008
Joined: 06 August 2008
From a teenage bride and then widow in Color's Balika Vadhu to a ghost in Zee's Shree. Isn't that a big risk?
That's another way of putting it. But when Zee approached me for the role, I realised that it's a great opportunity to explore a drastically different form of acting and widen my horizon.
Do you believe in ghosts?
I do, and I get frightened each time I watch a horror show or film. But acting as one is okay especially since I won't be the victim this time.
Tell us a little about your character in Shree.
I'm the ghost that has been haunting the Raghuvanshi family and especially Wasna Ahmed's character, the daughter-in-law. As Kangana, I reveal some long-kept secrets of the Raghuvanshis as Kangana shared her history with them. That's all I can reveal for now but I can assure you that I play a central character after Kangana is introduced on the show sometime next week.
What will you, as Kangana, look like?
I won't be a ghastly ghost but I will inherit my white sari from Balika Vadhu. Dressed in pastels like peaches, pale yellow and white saris, I'll leave my hair open. It's a simple yet effective look.
Your character in Balika Vadhu shot into limelight especially after your on-screen husband, Pratap, died. Isn't it ironical?
I became the centre of everyone's sympathies after that. A couple of neighbours and acquaintances would often come over and tell me that they lost their appetite whenever they tried to have dinner while watching the show. It's strange because it's just a character after all and it hasn't affected me one bit in real life. But I do appreciate the love and the attention, especially coming from the kids.
Balika Vadhu's new entrant is Farida Jalal.
She is a star! She is as jovial in real life as is on the show. With her around, we're always having fun. But the most amazing thing about her is that she doesn't need glycerin to cry — whenever the director asks her to shed a few tears she instantly obliges. I want to learn how she does that.
What next would you want to do?
Movies are my next step. I did have a few offers but I opted for Shree before that. I am waiting for the right films as I'd love to do family dramas like Hum Aapke Hain Kaun or Hum Saath Saath Hain.
Source : http://www.indianexpress.com/news/talking-point-with-veebha-anand/446372/2
Joined: 26 August 2006
Rahul Lohani will be the new music teacher for Gehna in COLORS' Balika Vadhu..
Joined: 10 May 2005
|Vandana Shukla/ Hill Road Media|
The saas bahu dramas may be dwindling on the small screen but surprisingly, that hasn't stopped actresses from shedding their tears on television. They're armed with glycerine and are not afraid to use it; here are onscreen mothers and daughters-in-law who just can't fight back the tears, regardless of how crucial or trivial the reason.
|Number 5: Anandi of Balika Vadhu|
It seems like Anandi of Balika (Colors), played by Avika Gor, has forgotten how to smile of late. This happened after Pratap, Sughna's groom-to-be, was killed on the show. Anandi decided to share her sister-in-law's sorrow and that's why we perpetually see her with a tear-stained face. And now, Anandi is so used to her mournful disposition that even badi dadisa coming to visit her hasn't been able to turn her frown upside down.
|Number 4: Sudha of Jyoti|
It seems like we will never see Sudha of Jyoti (NDTV Imagine), portrayed by Sriti Jha, smile on the show. We understand that the character has a very traumatic past but she failed to curl her lips upward even when she's supposed to be happy! No, all you'll get from a delighted Sudha is an unwilling smirk. But when night falls, and she turns into her alter ego Devika, you'll see her laughing her heart out.
|Number 3: Heer of Kis Des...|
Perhaps happiness and Heer cannot go hand-in-hand and that's the reason, even after getting her Prem back on Kis Des Mein Hai Mera Dil (Star Plus), the woman never seen wearing a grin. Right from the start of the show, Heer has always been crying; sometimes due to the family tensions while sometimes due to loneliness.
|Number 2: Saloni of Saat Phere|
Rajshree Thakur, who is popularly known as Saloni of Saat Phere, is another of TV's leading lady often seen with tears rolling down her cheeks. But now, since her show has taken a leap, Saloni has two lovely daughters, and definitely has reason to be happy.
|Number 1: Sadhna of Bidaai|
One of the top shows on TV these days, a lot of credit for Bidaai's success goes to Sadhna (Sara Khan) who can't spend an episode without shedding what could be litres of tears. We recently saw her smiling heartily before she got married to Alekh but post her wedding, she doesn't seem very happy. And now, all we see Sadhna do is wipe her tears away as she sacrificing her happiness for the Rajvansh family.
Joined: 06 August 2008
Bride And Prejudice
Balika Vadhu has replaced the K-serials as every woman's new addiction. HARINDER BAWEJA explains why
Playing house house Anandi(Avika Gor) and Jagdish(Avinash Mukharjee)
I'M NOT sure what I'm more addicted to — caffeine or Balika Vadhu. The question, 'what's that?' is not even valid. It is the most watched serial on Colors — discussed by politically- conscious reporters in newsrooms, including ours, and in beauty parlours by women getting their talons painted a bright red.
And just why would women — hair streaked deep purple and burnt gold; feet daintily tucked in stilettos — be watching a soap set in a village in Rajasthan where its cast even sleeps in bridal jewelry and heavy-duty lehengas, that for most would resemble oversized tents? Why, indeed, would they be hooked on a show about child marriage? Yes, that done-to-death subject that we in metros make polite, socially correct noises about; that done-to-death subject that seldom makes non-tweezed eyebrows shoot up simply because it is so part of the 'parampara' they've grown up in.
What is it about this serial that sometimes keeps me awake well past my nocturnal hour? If Balika Vadhu has the highest television ratings and if it has, in so many ways, effectively sealed the fate of all the K-serials that shot Ekta Kapoor to fame and pots of money, there is obviously meat and matter.
Child marriages may be a hackneyed subject but the serial transports you into a very real world. It takes you into the deep recesses of a Rajasthani home and makes you feel like a participant, like a member of the joint family in which the grandmother is the head of the parivar. Kalyani, the rigid old lady, sets the rules and expects to be obeyed. She terrorises everybody — her two sons, their wives and two grandchildren, a girl and a boy.
Initially, you start hating her but realise soon enough — through the many nuances and layers that the serial takes you through — that Kalyani is steeped in tradition. She knows no other way of life. She shocks you in almost every episode. In one, she pays money to procure a child bride for her older son after his wife dies in childbirth, because she has grown up watching village midwives and thinks allopaths are bad news. She also finds girls from poverty-stricken families and brings them home as brides and thinks nothing of humiliating their parents.
The serial revolves around the eight-year-old child bride Anandi, married to an equally young Jagdish, Kalyani's grandson. Kalyani delivers shocker after shocker but the serial simultaneously also delivers hope, through Jagdish's parents who encourage their children to break traditions. They encourage Anandi to go to school even though her grandmother wants her to master the art of Rajasthani delicacies. She helps her husband with his homework and when she takes the exam at school, her report card shines brighter than his.
|Child marriage may be a hackneyed topic but the show transports you to a very real world|
Balika Vadhu is more than just a serial on child marriage. It portrays a slice of life women in metros can still identify with. It is not black and white about its exploration of good and evil, right and wrong. With its onion-like layers, it shames you about the way widows are treated. When Sugna, Kalyani's granddaughter is widowed on her wedding day, a broken and grieving Kalyani insists that she spend a year in the outhouse. When her older son forces himself on his child wife, the camera focuses directly on the marks he has left on her body.
Currently, Kalyani's sister has walked into the family fold and is doing a delightful job of opening the windows of her sister's mind, and the rigid old lady is slowly shedding her superstitious beliefs.
Why would you opt for other serials where the saas and the bahu are still bitching and scheming each other out. Balika Vadhu is socially relevant but doesn't preach. It's a fine depiction of life and its setting in Rajasthan is now merely incidental for a hardcore Delhiite like me. A modern me, if I may say so. And yes, I've been through burnt gold streaks myself.
Joined: 26 August 2006
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