Balika Vadhu celebrated its 5th anniversary with its recent episodes. The soap opera which started as a force against child marriages in India has taken its own detour over the years. What began as a fresh change on Indian television has slowly and sadly come to being like the rest of them. It too has been reduced to a boiling pot of conspiracies and plots.
Balika Vadhu started its journey with a dynamic cast comprising the likes of Surekha Sikri (Dadisa), Anup Soni (Bhairon),Smita Bansal (Sumitra)and introduced brilliant debutantes Avika Gor and Avinash Mukherjee. A strong storyline which was executed brilliantly played easily into the hearts of Indian families. It was a condemnation of the practices of the society we dwelled in, yet hardly was there an instance where Balika Vadhu hurt sentiments except for one uproar in Lok Sabha where it was accused of glorifying child marriages. However, if one has followed the show one would understand that the show slams the concept instead of glorifying it. There could be instances where the Balika Var and Vadhu were captured in cute moments, however it’s exactly the fickleness of these moments which the show sought to capture.
Personally I felt it was tracing an excellent trajectory trying to display the various social realities. The episodes went from capturing the child marriage of Jagdish and Anandi to showing the ill-treatment of a child widow. It showed the struggles of a girl to fight for her right to education and her right to freedom. It progressed to show the changes a person goes through from childhood to adolescence to adulthood and the fragility of relationships through this journey.
However at some misguided point the show lost its sheen and its TRPs too. I guess it could be the awfully dragged love triangle between Jagdish, Anandi and Gauri and Jagdish’s machinations using nandu and dadisa. Sadly, since then the show has been less of tirade against social evils and more of love triangles. A host of new characters were introduced to save the show from dying, but that I guess has been a failed attempt. The new characters if anything have only added to the vagueness of the plot.
The character of the protagonist has already seen three actors playing it, all in their own spirits. We have killed a little of Anandi’s true spirit each time we got a new face to play her character. And now sadly, she is anything but the protagonist, settled comfortably for a complacent married life with no will to look beyond the small politics of her family. Gone are the days when Anandi’s revolutionary methods of changing the society inspired in many a girls the fire to fight for their rights. With the new plot revolving around Ganga, Sanchi and Jagdish; Anandi has all but no role to play in it other than being a wallflower.
I wish the producers had stuck to their initial idea of rebelling against social taboos and not given in to the frivolous demands of Indian audience. Amongst the things that they could try doing are firstly just wrapping up the show at the right point instead of dragging. A better idea however would have been to come back with seasons, each season dealing with a new social issue. The show would have been much more informative and impactful that way. But of course the last idea is also what has been taken ever so often by all Indian television show producers and that is to drag on the show indefinitely. That, I guess will be a sad ending to a brilliant start.