ETV Bangla recreates ‘Balika Vadhu’ in Bengali

KOLKATA: Come 15 April and ETV Bangla will have a host of original content for its audience. The channel which has created an afternoon time band, ‘Duronto Dupur’ is set to launch four new shows to keep its viewers hooked on to the channel and carve out a space in the regional general entertainment genre.

Of the four new soaps, one is Gouri Daan, which is inspired by the popular Colors show Balika Vadhu. Starting 15 April at 1:00 pm, the programme aims at creating a niche for itself in the Bengali market which has had several progressive shows.

So why remake a popular Hindi show into Bengali? Answers ETV Bangla programming head Ritika Roy, “ As per our research, in 2013, West Bengal emerged as the fourth largest state in the country, which competed in the category of child marriage and 55 per cent of the girls who were married were far younger than the marriageable age.” Also the channel in order to hook its afternoon band audience wanted to take up a strong issue-based story. The West Bengal government also launched a campaign last year called ‘Kanyashree Prakalpa’ for curbing child marriage in the state.

While one can argue that Gouri Daan was not a replica of Balika Vadhu, the essence is the same. It is also leant that the storyline has been changed in keeping with the Bengali sentiments.

The show which is being produced under the umbrella of Shree Venkatesh Films, will initially create 300 episodes for the series. “We have created a bank of 11 episodes, which will be aired in the course of two weeks,” informs Shree Venkatesh Films director Mahendra Soni.

Those starring in the series are: Soumik Chattopadhaya, Torsha, an eight year old newcomer, who will play the lead character of Gauri and Sumanto Mukherjee, who will be seen in the role of a grandfather.

The show will be shot not only in Shantiniketan, but also at Varanasi and Murshidabad. “This apart from the 10,000 square feet set created for the series,” says Soni.

Elaborating on the plot of Gauri Daan, Roy says, “The series kicks off with Lord Shiva appearing in the dream of Sumanto Mukherjee (the grandfather), asking him to marry off his youngest granddaughter.  We have depicted child marriage to raise awareness about this menace in our society.”  

While not revealing any details on the cost of each episode, Roy says, “It will be at par with other players in the Bangla regional channel space.”

According to city-based media experts, on a fiction show a regional GEC can spend anywhere between Rs 1 to Rs 2 lakh per episode. 

“Till date, the noon slot had re-runs of the evening shows. By airing original content, we are also looking at some share in this monopoly market,” says Viacom 18 executive vice president and business head – regional channels, ETV Kannada, ETV Bangla and ETV Odiya, Ravish Kumar.

So who would be the sponsors for the afternoon band? Answers Kumar, “Talks are on with several advertisers. Nothing has been finalised as yet.”

The network will do all that is needed to promote the new shows. “We will put up 300 hoardings across the state, apart from spending on radio spots and print advertisements,” he informs.

When quizzed about the ratings the channel was expecting to garner through the new show, Kumar says, “We are not expecting anything. All I can say is that Balika Vadhu is quite popular even after running for so many years.”

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