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Small town girls are TVs new toughies
Women protagonists of three new shows launched across top Hindi fiction channels hail from little-known towns,just like the shows producers and scriptwriters,finds Neha Maheshwri
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
ZEE TVs publicized and most recent offering,Afsar Bitiya is set in Bhagalpur,a town in Bihar that until now was familiar to those urban Indians who knew their Tussar silk from Muga.Its pivotal character,Krishna Raj is a slight,lower middle-class plain Jane hanging on to her dream of becoming a sarkari officer.
A flip of channels at 6.30 pm on a weekday introduces you to Sanchi,A Varanasi teenager making her way through a patriarchal and corrupt system with wit and presence of mind.Ruk Jaana Nahin is Star Plus month-old idea of smalltown revolution.
Two odd hours later,19 year-old Sandhya from Pushkar town in Ajmer district of Rajasthan holds up the beacon of hope in Diya aur Bati Hum,chasing her IPS dream secretly while finding meaning in marriage to a halwai.
Small town educated girls are Indian televisions brand new toughies,and possibly the means to higher viewership.Diya aur is what the industry is calling a consistent performer;its television rating points fall between 5 and 6.Afsar Bitiya opened in the last week of December with a promising 1.6.
The reason,says Shanti Bhushan,scriptwriter for successful Hindi soaps Agle Janam Mohe Bititya Hi Kijo and Pratigya,set in Bihar and Allahabad respectively,is that it makes the ideal setting for formulaic drama.Small town girls are believed to value ethics.They indulge in big struggles for the smallest things.It makes for perfect highs and lows in a show.
And struggle has no address.The story about a girls remarkable achievements against killing odds is likely to strike a chord with the urban middle-classes just as well.Authenticity will do the trick,say producers.And thats hardly been a challenge recently,with a sizeable chunk of a shows cast and crew hailing from the hinterland.
Afsar Bitiyas producer Raakesh Paswan comes from Chaibasa in Jharkhand.And the tale of his personal struggle is no less compelling than his protagonists.Paswans ambition was to become a successful film director.He landed in Mumbai to find no guide or godparent.Starting off at the lowest rung,he worked as production assistant,all the while approaching producers who he thought could give him a break.Broke,he finally took to writing soap scripts for Banoo Main Teri Dulhann and Ek Ladki Anjani Si.Thats before Hamari Devrani,a widely successful afternoon soap set in a Gujarati household,got him noticed.
When writing,its our job to study the backdrop of the story but its easier when you are made from the same mould.Working on a story set in Rajasthan comes easily to a Marwari like me, admits Shashi Mittal,who produces Diya aur.. with husband Sumeet.
And its this local advantage that seems to have worked in Bhushans favour too,especially with Pratigya,a daily soap set in the same city he studied in.I come from a village named Youwarajpur in Uttar Pradesh but I moved to Allahabad for higher studies,and that makes me fairly well versed with its ambience and culture.I cannot write on a subject I know nothing about.I believe in the adage,you see more than you hear,and that reflects in my stories.Personal experience is the strength of every good writer.
No surprise then that the idea for Afsar Bitiya struck Paswan when his cousin made it to the civil services.A block development officer in Jharkhand,her selection was reported in local newspapers,leaving the family ecstatic.Its that moment of pride that inspired the story.And the feedback has been fantastic.Ive been told,we relate to the plot.
The Mittals too were inspired by the true-life story of a paani puri stall vendor who struggled to make ends meet so that his wife could study to be an IAS officer.When the channel approached us,we narrated the subject keeping this incident in mind, says Sumeet Mittal about Diya aur..
And it only gets better when the actor playing the part hails from a small town herself.Nagpur girl Mitali Nag,who plays Krishna in Afsar.. says she was able to effortlessly slip into the shoes of a girl struggling to give colour to her dreams since she spent a good time convincing her family about her own choice of career.My mother was far from convinced about my moving to Mumbai.Im their only child.I graduated and bagged and MBA to keep her happy.But I had to put up quite a fight.I think thats true of my character,Krishna too.We are the never-say-die girls!
Producer Sumeet Mittal says the story of a paani puri seller struggling to make his wife an IAS officer inspired the idea behind Diya aur Bati Hum
Mitali Nag and Virendra Saxena shoot for a scene from Afsar Bitiya at Film City in Goregaon,Mumbai
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