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The acronym NRI brings forth dollar dreams in the Indian marriage market. Many of the NRI grooms are gentlemen who turn out to be responsible husbands. However, there are many NRIs who abandon their newly-wed wives soon after the wedding and never return.
Colors' upcoming serial Gurbani (Mystic Entertainment) on Colors was inspired by an article in the Chandigarh edition of the Indian Express which alerted the readers that 30,000 innocent brides had been duped by their NRI husbands.
Prashant Bhatt, Fiction Head of Colors said at Gurbani's press conference in Film City which was held on 14 March 2013, "This show is to spread awareness that marriage to an NRI doesn't necessarily guarantee a happy marriage and a luxurious lifestyle. We have also imparted the message that there are honest NRIs as well."
A very progressive feature of the show is that it will spread the message that women should move on with their personal lives instead of waiting on endlessly for their unfaithful partners to return. Prashant informed us, "We have a 40-year-old Rano (Navni Parihar) from a small village in Punjab who got married in the 1980s and has been waiting for her husband for 20 years. She has a totally different mindset from Gurbani (Shefali Sharma) of the same village who got married in the contemporary times and met with a similar destiny. Gurbani won't walk down the same path which Rano of the erstwhile decades had. We may definitely fear whether she will abide by the same path but if she will actually do that is for the audiences to find out. The idea is to show that there are other options available now. You don't have to go on waiting at the railway station for your long lost husband to return. You may have to take the bull by its horns instead."
Villagers are nave and don't know how to trace these grooms who have fled. Nor do they know how to sieve out those who will make untrustworthy grooms. Prashant told us, "We also want to inform our viewers that there are ways in which we can do thorough background checks on prospective grooms who are based in foreign countries. How do you get in touch with the embassy? How does the police over there take care of these details? How can you report a complaint against an NRI? There are special cells in the police station to register NRI complaints and special courts to deal with them."
Why do these men desert their wives? Prashant's reply was, "At times they get married under family pressure. Sometimes the motives may be highly selfish. It could be because of a property or a dowry."
Will Gurbani be shot both in foreign locales which shows of a similar theme like that of Sahara One's Ghar Aaja Pardesi and Zee TV's Rab Se Sohna Isshq have been shot? Prashant answered, "As of now the story is very much based in Punjab. Right now it's unfolding in a small village. Later it may shift to a bigger town like Ludhiana or Amritsar. For a short time it may move to Delhi. If the story demands that we show Canada, London or the U.S, it will go there."
Gurbani doesn't have a radically new concept. The issue of brides being duped by NRI grooms, have been addressed in other Indian soaps as well. Prashant's explanation was, "It's the narration of the story which matters. There are many questions as to why these women are abandoned by their husbands, how they can be traced and what these women should ideally do. Many people are yet to know the answers to these."
Will Gurbani be shown getting a job and attaining financial independence? Prashant remarked, "Absolutely. What we want to ideally show is that even if things come across in the face of it as regressive, it's just the mindsets of the people which are like that. One needs to take a progressive step forward. That is exactly the message of the show".
Producer Damini Shetty said, "It's unfortunate that so many Indian wives go abroad in search of their husbands. Many of them can't find their spouses at all. Set in the backdrop of Punjab which is rich in cultural heritage, this is a story which is very dear to my heart. Though set in Punjab this problem plagues the whole of India. We should stop being fascinated by white skin to sell our land and house to raise funds to settle the whole family abroad."
Navni added, "We wish to impart the message that life isn't over if your husband leaves you never to return. You can overcome this hurdle to move ahead in life to live happily ever after. However it is best to avoid such a scenario in the first place. Instead of taking at face value that a prospective NRI groom gets a fat pay cheque, has a lucrative job or is of a reliable nature, it is best to do a cross check these details. After all you don't want your daughter's heart to be broken, do you?"
Speaking on her character Gurbani, Shefali said, "I play a sweet, simple and innocent girl who wants to make her family happy. Gurbani will be a fighter though. My advice to women in the same scenario is not to mope over lost love like Rano but to move on in life. You should not cry for a man who isn't worth it."
Gurbani will be debut on Colors on 18 March 2013 at 10:30pm every Monday to Friday.
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