What drives Indian TV’s longest-running soap

21

The popular television series “Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai” recently completed 3,000 episodes, creating history on Indian television. Producer Rajan Shahi says the show managed to stay relevant with changing times for almost a decade primarily because the makers never allowed stagnancy to set in.

“I strongly believe it is not a success of our team or the channel. Running a show for almost 10 years with 3,000 episodes is historic for the entire television industry. It is a collective achievement of the people who loved the show for years, as well as the storytellers, who followed the pulse of the audience,” Shahi told reporters.

For a daily soap, Shahi reasons the magic of the soap never faded because of the flexible nature of its theme and plot. “I think our creative team never allowed stagnancy to set in and disturb the flow of the show. That is the main reason we managed to keep it relevant. Of course in a daily soap, we have to maintain the core texture of the show but we change the dynamics between the characters without losing the essence of the script.” Shahi added.

“Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai” premiered in 2009 on the Star Plus channel and featured Hina Khan and Karan Mehra as the lead in the early seasons.

Like most successful television series in our country, “Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai” has always banked heavily on the great Indian family. The show revolves around a large Marwari joint family based in Udaipur. However, the show, along with its cast, has changed over the decade, to accommodate changing times. Perhaps that is where the winning formula lies — in retaining its old core values in an ever-changing set-up.

“Our story is about family values. It talks about interpersonal relationships within a family and we kept that essence intact. However, looking at the border perspective, we maintain the relevance — on how society has changed over the last 10 years,” shared Shahi.

It is interesting to observe how the show has managed to survive on air at a time when many among the home audience have switched over to watching web series.

Over the years, as “Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai” steadily headed for its record, it outstripped Ekta Kapoor’s longrunning blockbusters such as “Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi” (with 1,833 episodes) and “Yeh Hai Mohabbatein” (1,836 episodes).

Changing with times also meant a change in the cast. While one of the best discoveries of the show was actress Hina Khan in the early years, Shivangi Joshi and Mohsin Khan have established a new-age fan connect in recent seasons.

“We were losing out on the young audience when things were going sweet between (original protagonists) Akshara and Naitik. With the introduction of Kartik and Naira — a couple that is imperfect, makes mistake and learns from the mistakes — the audience again found a connection with the on-screen characters. That is how our show has stood strong against the test of time.”

Current lead actors Shivangi and Mohsin are naturally overjoyed with the popularity of their characters. Mohsin said: “The role of Kartik has given me name and fame.”

Shivangi added: “The love of fans is overwhelming. It feels fantastic to be part of a historic show.”

Emphasising on the importance of right casting, Shahi said: “Bringing the right talent to engage the audience is important. When I am talking about it, we are not only talking about lead actors but character artists as well. We have introduced an interesting character named Samarth Goenka, played by Samir Onkar.”

(Agencies)