Balaji Telefilms might be well clued when it comes to what Indian women want. But of late it appears that the production house is facing a few women problems of its own. With female protagonists opting out of serials one after the other, a few questions come to fore. Is this a phase in Indian television, an indication of actress fatigue or the beginning of a new trend? More importantly, how will this affect the respective programmes?
To put things into perspective, at least three primetime serials have seen protagonists change. After establishing a connect with the Indian audience for almost three years, Kkusum now has a different face and so does Shyna in Kahiin…, a development that neither Sony Entertainment Television nor STAR was excited about. With Parvathi also getting a new face in Kahaani… the audiences have quite a few changed heroines to deal with.
“It is not something that can be helped” expresses Rajesh Pavithran, COO, Balaji Telefilms, “These actresses have got a lot from their experiences, in every way. Now if there are hurdles like prior commitments, time becoming an issue or anything else, then there is no choice but to part ways.”
“It ideally should not happen,” remarks Deepak Segal, Sr VP, Content and Communication, STAR India, “But sometimes there is no control over these things like in the case of Kahiin. If someone tells you that they want to move ahead, then in that case, there isn’t much you can do.” The reason that the actress Mouli Ganguli of Kahiin… cited to the channel for opting out of the serial was that she was moving forward to a career in movies. Pavithran informs that one reason why Ganguli quit Kahiin was because the actress didn’t give the kind of time that she initially gave to the serial. Ganguli now stars in the newly launched serial ‘Saaksshi’ on Sony.
In the case of Kahaani however, changing Parvathi is a well-planned move. Segal elucidates, “It is a part of the story line. The character required to have a new face and hence the change.” He expresses that in both cases Kahaani and Kahiin, the actresses need to execute their respective parts well. And if audiences still don’t warm up? “Creative solutions are always there,” replies Pavithran. And one needn’t doubt that. The serial might just see the original Parvathi back in the typical STAR-Balaji style.
The channel and the production house are exerting necessary steps to ensure that viewers accept the new actresses or rather the serials with changed actresses well. In Kkusum’s case, the storyline is revolving strongly around the other characters. “We don’t expect people to lap these changes immediately. But our strength lies in storytelling and so far our creative team has done a very good job of that. If the audience is fine for the first three-four weeks, then we are on,” Pavithran comments. Changed Kkusum’s first week ratings are quite on his side so far.
The planners are not worried right now about these changes. “On the small screen, it is more about the story and the characters than the actors,” says Punitha Arumugam, COO, Madison Media, “Even if you were to look at the earlier examples, people have walked out of serials but not much has changed. May be the same cannot be said in the case of Tulsi in Kyunki.. because the association is so strong. Otherwise, I don’t think much should change.”
Amit Ray, Vice President, Media, Mudra adds, “There is lesser detailing in Indian television today as compared to perhaps movies. TV roles are very hollow. It is not about individual but characters. So, I don’t think these changes should matter.”
So far, so good. In case, if things still don’t click, “That is perhaps the best part about fiction, you can always change it the way you want to,” fills in Pavithran, “If it doesn’t work out, there will always be alternative story lines. If we are still exhausted out of options then we will take necessary calls accordingly.”