New Delhi, Nov 4 (IANS) It has changed the face of primetime Indian television viewing. After logging more than 1,800 episodes in over eight years, Star Plus' epochal TV serial 'Kyunkii Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thhi" dies a 'legal death' Thursday.
'Kyunkii...', which triggered a flurry of similar saas-bahu sagas, and spun improbable plots around the emotions of love, joy, anger, anxiety, contemplation, grief, fear and terror - even amnesia, death, rebirth and murder - bids adieu after losing a court battle to Star Plus.
The twisted saga of the traditional Gujarati family of the 'Viranis' had kept audiences across India as well as in Pakistan and Afghanistan glued to their television sets from 10.30 p.m. to 11 p.m. from Monday-Thursday since its launch in Oct 3, 2000. Now, fans are wondering how to fill the vacuum.
Star Group's SGL Entertainment Ltd had last month told Balaji Telefilms, makers of the serial, that since viewership had plummeted, the show should be taken off the air. However, Balaji filed a case against the channel and said it was a breach of contract as it had signed on for episodes till March 2009. Balaji, owned by TV tycoon Ekta Kapoor, lost the case on Monday.
'Kyunkii..' began losing out on TRPs due to more innovative scripts and fresh shows on new channels.
Sudha Khanna, a 69-year-old grandmom, is disappointed at the ending of the serial. 'I don't know how I shall spend that late evening time slot now. Watching 'Kyunkii..' had become a part of my life and I looked forward to what new twists the show would bring.'
Says Avinash Shah in another vein: 'I feel quite relieved now that the serial is ending. You know the women in the house would keep the TV remote in their hands to watch the serial and we men never got to watch news or other shows.'
'Kyunkii...' was instrumental in changing the fortunes of Star Plus at a time when the channel was struggling for Television Rating Points (TRPs) due to its lack of original Hindi programming. A majority of its shows were dubbed versions of syndicated American sitcoms. The channel lagged behind in the Indian television industry, which was then ruled by Zee and Sony Entertainment Television.
The initial title song of the show - 'Rishton ke bhi roop badaltey hain..' is still etched in the minds of viewers with Tulsi Virani, the protagonist, clad in a green-blue sari, introducing the house members to the audience.
Within a few months of its debut, 'Kyunkii...' achieved the status of a trendsetter.
In 1,834 episodes, 'Kyunkii' has dealt with five generations of the Virani family that were subjected to two 20-year generational leaps. The show had almost 100 characters, who played different roles and gave the small screen actors like Smriti Irani, who became a houseshold name as Tulsi. Veteran actress Sudha Shivpuri also became extremely popular as Baa. Her age could be calculated as '106' after having seen so many generations of her family.
The show's popularity reached its zenith when Mihir Virani, one of the pivotal characters, suffered an untimely death. It led to near hysteria among viewers, and angry mobs gathered outside Balaji Telefilms' studio in Mumbai demanding the character be reinstated.
The episode in which Tulsi shoots dead her own son Ansh was one of the most expensive scenes shot for Indian television till date due to its special effects.
'Kyunkii...' also took a dramatic turn when Smriti Irani was asked to leave the show by Ekta Kapoor. While Smriti was away on a 10-month hiatus, another popular actor, Gautami Kapoor, played her character. Later, Ekta brought back Smriti to the show earlier this year. However, it did not help in raising its dipping ratings.
The show that continued to have double digit TRPs for more than five years - even crossing the 20- TRP mark at one time - began to slide somewhere towards last year, and the dip became more prominent this year.
Fans are going to mope for sometime till something else keeps them hooked. 'Aap ki Kachehri' with super cop Kiran Bedi, replaces the serial.