We are talking about the five-year leap in Balika Vadhu. A TRP topper since quite some time, the leap in the serial has led to the introduction of a new lead pair. Balika Vadhu is the story of a girl child Anandi (played by Avika Gor) who is married off to an underaged Jagadish (played by Avinash Mukherjee) in a village in Rajasthan.
It showcases how her life changes after marriage and how the child deals with it. Till now the serial has been dealing with the story of child marriage and various family aspects related to it. Now, the makers have woken up to the fact that they have a message to share with the entire nation and would like to focus on the practical difficulties related to child marriage.
This, along with the fact that the story needed a change. As Sunjoy Waddhwa of Sphere Origins (the producers of the show) says, “Age leaps let us experiment further with the storyline. The five-year-leap is a natural progression. We wanted to bring in a refreshing change to the show and characters — new look, new situations with new twist and turns”. But what is the new twist? Before the leap, Anandi and Jagya (as Jagadish is fondly called) were asked to live apart for five years because both of them have become teenagers now and passing through a ‘critical’ age. Living apart would make sure that everything goes the way it should till they grow up and become responsible.
Post leap, the storyline shifts to a time when Anandi and Jagya have grown up and are busy in their individual lives. While both of them miss each other, they have been forced to stay apart and the time to finally meet each other fast approaching. The new Anandi — Pratyusha Banerjee — was introduced in the serial last week and has been getting mixed reactions from the viewers. While some say she is the perfect Anandi to have taken over from Avika Gor, others feel that her features are too sharp and model-like — a contrast to the fat and cute Avika.
Whatever the case may be, there is no denying the fact that the selection of the new Anandi was also made a huge branding and publicity exercise. It was something never done on Indian television — the choice was left open to the audience on whom they wanted to see as their Anandi after the leap.
This is how it happened – the producers after scanning through portfolios across the nation, shortlisted three candidates who they thought were suitable to play Anandi. Then they left it to the audience to vote and select the actor. Pratyusha got the highest number of votes and thus got the opportunity to play Anandi’s role.
Explains Ashvini Yardi, Head of Programming, Colors, “Balika Vadhu is a show that enjoys viewership around the world and has loyal followers across demographics. It is the simple story of Anandi’s journey into womanhood. As Avika Gor connected well with the audience we wanted our viewers to be involved in deciding who they want to see as their ‘grown-up’ Anandi. The response that we received in the form of votes was an overwhelming testimony of the love our viewers feel for the characters of this show. I am positive that Pratyusha will take the role of Anandi to newer heights in her grown-up avatar.”
How does Pratyusha herself feel about this? The teenager from Jamshedpur is excited and at the same time a wee bit confused about how fast things have been moving. She says, “Anandi has become a household name and is one of the most loved characters on Indian television. I consider this as an opportunity of a lifetime to play this coveted role. Avika essayed the role of Anandi beautifully, adding to a superbly written character sketch. I will try my best to live up to everyone’s expectations by getting into the skin of the character.”