Brightly lit homes teeming with family members rushing to complete last minute preparations, the bridal couple in their designer trousseau, lots of naach-gana thrown in during the sangeet-mehendi ceremonies — are now the binding factor in Hindi prime time soaps, Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai,Sasural Simar Ka
, Mrs Tendulkar
, Hamari Saas Leela
, Mrs Kaushik Ki Paanch Bahuein
and Bade Acche Lagte Hain.
All these shows have introduced (or are on the verge of introducing) wedding tracks, complete with special episodes devoted to the various ceremonies leading to the D-Day.
What makes showmakers so fascianted with weddings right now? More importantly how are these tracks woven in the show? Producer Rajan Shahi says, "Marriages have a huge connect with masses, as audiences love to see their favourite reel couple tie the nuptial knot on screen. The Naitik-Akshara marriage track in Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai
was shown for over a month and got us great TRPs. Currently Rashmi's wedding track is going on (in the same show) and audiences are loving it."
What about the budget? Introducing a wedding track would mean having lavish sets and ornate costumes. Shahi admits that the cost of production does shoot up because apart from "lavish sets and costumes", wedding tracks require more actors and junior artists", but goes on to add that authenticity is "important" to get the "look and feel of real weddings right". Producer Siddharth Tewary, whose show Phulwa's got an ongoing marriage track, says, "We do proper research about the region's marriage rituals and invest in props, sets, costumes before we shoot. Plus, marriages also have an instant connect with the audience, so, the expenses are worth the effort."
Actors also seem to have loads of fun while shooting these tracks. Dipika Samson who plays the lead in Sasural Simar Ka, says with a grin, "There's so much fun on the sets because my character's getting married in the show. It feels as if I'm rehearsing for my real marriage!"
How do channels perceive such tracks? Fiction head Sukesh Motwani of a GEC says, "In real life, marriages are important, exciting and hold a huge emotional value. Similarly, marriage tracks in soaps usually herald a high point in the show and holds the viewer too. So one needs to be as authentic as possible while shooting these tracks."
As long as the reel marriages keep the audiences glued (and bring in the TRPs), GECs will pull out all strings to make these weddings grand and picture-perfect. All we can say to these new 'reel' couples is shaadi mubaarak ho, until the next track comes up!