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"It's my fault that I did not think of the generation leap earlier. When we started we didn't realise that the show would be so successful. Now we are hoping that the leap will help in bringing back viewers" – Ekta Kapoor, producer, Pavitra Rishta
It's a working-class story that has been on air for two-and- half years now. Set in a chawl in a far-off Mumbai suburb, its realistic treatment, relatable characters and the issues it dealt with - marriage, separation, divorce, reunion, survival, aspirations and constant struggle to keep families united against the backdrop of changing social values - made Pavitra Rishta one of the highly-successful shows of recent times. Not long ago, it was Zee's rock star and also one of the top-rated shows on GECs. Though it continues to be Zee's number one show, today it doesn't even figure in the list of top 10 GEC shows. If it took about six months to reach 5-plus TVR, it has lost almost 50 percent ground in the last six months. Whether the loss in ratings is because it doesn't make emotionally-compelling viewing or because the story has run its course is anybody's guess, but shows that have been channel- drivers are not allowed to wind up so easily. Instead they are refreshed and reinvented. The easiest and reliable reinvention formula is a generation leap. Hence the 'fast forward' button has finally been pressed on Pavitra Rishta.
The show took 20-year leap on Monday. Those who have followed it for over two-and-half years will be transported to Canada where Manav stays with his four children while Archana lives in Mumbai with her parents and adopted daughter. With 20 years of separation between them, the couple prefers not to even bring up each other's names in any discussions with their respective family members. The story post-leap will focus on how Manav and Archana live in their individual space besides the interactions between the five fresh faces who are part of the new generation as Manav's and Archana's children. While all is not well in paradise and the key question is whether the separated lovers, who began their journey in a chawl, will reconcile their differences and reunite, things are not rosy for the show either.
The leap was on the cards for almost six months. Apparently, it got delayed for two reasons. One, the confusion over whether and when Sushant Singh Rajput, who played Manav earlier, would quit. Two, it was too much of a risk to introduce a new generation when Kaun BanegaCrorepati was doing so well and had a major impact on Pavitra Rishta's ratings. But it couldn't have been delayed any further because the show was not showing signs of regaining lost ground even after KBC went off air three weeks ago. Zee's fiction head Sukesh Motwani downplays the KBC effect. "Of course, KBC is a big show. But more than that, Pavitra Rishta lost ratings because the story pegs were losing out on emotional quotient. As the story and emotional conflict got depleted, viewers didn't find it compelling enough," he defends.
Producer Ekta Kapoor admits that the show suffered because the story got saturated. "It's my fault that I did not think of the generation leap earlier," she adds. But will the generation leap resurrect the show from its current lows? "The story will focus on the impact distance creates in Manav and Archana's lives. Besides, now we also have new characters to focus on parent-children relationship," says Ekta. Elaborating further she adds, "When we started we didn't realise that the show would be so successful. Now we are hoping that the leap will help in bringing back viewers." Motwani is not only hopeful but confident that the leap will workbecause it is not too late to infuse fresh life into the show. "It rates between 2 and 3 TVRs and it is still our no. 1 show," he adds.
Call it coincidence but Pavitra Rishta's decline runs almost parallel to Zee's recent fall. When the show was rocking, Zee too was a strong number three channel. But things changed quite a lot both for Pavitra Rishta and Zee simultaneously in the last six months, particularly from August 15 onwards when both the show and the channel started hitting a new low. A low of 139 GRPs in week 42 was Zee's worst performance in the last four to five years. But after the launch of Hitler Didi, the channel seems to have arrested its falling fortunes for now. Hovering around 150 GRPs, Zee is in a better position now with five of its shows - Choti Bahu, Hitler Didi, Yahan Main Ghar Ghar Kheli, Pavitra Rishta, Ram Milayi Jodi and Mrs. Kaushik Ki Paanch Bahuein - rating between 2 and 3 TVRs.
According to Motwani, Zee is already on the upward swing. "The whole channel is poised for a fresher look and better growth. We are launching Afsar Bitiya next week and Dance India Dance 3 will flag off from next weekend. With five shows delivering between 2 and 3 TVR, two new shows getting launched next week and two more coming in January and February, we will certainly be back in the reckoning soon," he sums up.
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Regional Tadka--- PR (Screenindia.com)
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