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Saturday, September 18, 2021

When a fan told Avika Gor he was ashamed to watch Balika Vadhu with his family

The original Anandi from Balika Vadhu, Avika Gor recalls her time with the show and shares fan experiences that left an impact on her.

Written by Sana Farzeen | Mumbai |
August 10, 2021 8:15:03 am
balika vadhu, avika gorAvika Gor played Anandi in the first season of Balika Vadhu. (Photo: PR, Avika/Instagram)

While saas-bahu dramas were the flavour of television, Colors pushed the envelope when it launched Balika Vadhu in 2008. A show centred around the concept of child marriage shocked many, especially in urban areas. Given the reach of television, those who still practised the custom realised its implications via the story of the story of Anandi and Jagya.

Thirteen years later, the channel is set to relaunch Balika Vadhu and showcase how families decide destinies of children, sometimes even before they are born. While Shreya Patel and Vansh Sayani will play the new leads, the original Anandi, Avika Gor has been closely associated with the launch of the show.

Speaking exclusively to indianexpress.com, the 23-year-old opened up about her association with Balika Vadhu, how it changed people’s lives, and her expectations from the new season.

Excerpts from the conversation…

The video shared by Colors where you watch your old episodes was quite emotional. How was the experience for you?

So the team had asked me to watch a few clips and then react to them. Honestly, I tried so hard to not cry but as soon as it was done, I couldn’t hold my tears. I cried almost for 20 minutes. I can’t even express in words the emotions right now. Also, with Colors involving me for promoting new season really means a lot.

 

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A post shared by ColorsTV (@colorstv)

 

Given it was your first project, one tends to become possessive about it. Now that someone else is going to play Anandi, are you a little envious?

I don’t think so, as I was never possessive about the character. I remember when Pratyusha di was roped in to play the older Anandi, I was asked the same question. And even then I had the same reply. For me, Anandi is a character who really inspires me. After Pratyusha Banerjee, Toral Rasputra played the part, and after the whole revamp thing, Mahhi Vij also came in. Even then, Anandi continued to inspire me. I think I looked at her as Anandi and not Avika hence I am just excited and there are no negative emotions. With the same set of people involved, I am really looking forward to the new season.

It’s a story that was told already. Why do you think Balika Vadhu 2 will work?

The way of saying the story, and reaching out is quite different. Also, the way the characters have been built, with a completely new family. This time the show is based out of Gujarat, and hence the audience will be in for a few cultural shocks. Also, it’s a completely new set of viewers. I have had people messaging me, who weren’t even born when the first season came out. And I had seen the excitement when the show had a rerun on Rishtey and even Colors, during the lockdown. There are so many reasons, and I hope the new season also manages to have the same bonding. I remember there was a track where I was shot in the head, and it was a Friday episode. People in Nashik stopped eating and were waiting till Monday to find out if Anandi survives. There were no social media back then but the buzz has always been loud around the show. I think this time it would be easier for the makers to build that attachment.

 

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A post shared by Avika Gor (@avikagor)

 

Given a chance, would you want to be a part of Balika Vadhu 2?

I would love to. This show has given me everything. I have reached here because of Balika Vadhu. This show means a lot to me, and I also have a soft corner for Colors. So if an opportunity comes, I would definitely say yes.

Over the years, you have worked on the ground with people. Do you think television shows have the power to impact audiences and bring about social change?

Honestly, I hope so, and also people need to understand what we are trying to say. In no way are we trying to promote child marriage. Honestly, when the show came, in the initial months I really thought it was something to do with history. Born and raised in Mumbai, it did not make sense to me. When I actually got to know the reality, I was shocked, and actually shattered. I had a conversation with my parents on why would anyone do this with their children. They told me that they don’t know any better. And the more we give them information, they would be able to know the difference between right and wrong.

I remember I was in Delhi in 2010, and a man, in his sixties came up to me and said, “Baccha humein maaf karna par hum aapka show apne parivar ke saath nahi dekh sakte. Humein sharam aati hai (Please forgive us, we cannot watch your show with our family as we feel ashamed). When I asked him why he said that because his family practices the same thing. However, he promised me that it won’t happen again. I was so shaken that I didn’t know how to react but his statement made me so proud. TV serials have the sole responsibility to entertain but with that, if we manage to change one life, one family, it’s just such an achievement. I also remember a journalist who told me that an eight-year-old girl in Kolkata stood in her mandap refusing to get married, saying ‘Anandi ne mana kiya hai’ (Anandi has forbidden child marriages). There is a reason the show is coming back as this evil practice is still prevalent in society and we need to make people see the ills of it.

 

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A post shared by ColorsTV (@colorstv)

 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by ColorsTV (@colorstv)

 

Coming back to your career, post-Balika Vadhu, you must have been flooded with offers. What made you so picky on TV?

I always wanted to try doing films and so chose my projects wisely. I have always wanted to do different characters. After Balika Vadhu, I did Sasural Simar Ka and Laado 2, and I think it was because Colors really manages to convince me well. I also experimented with Khatron Ke Khiladi and Khatra Khatra on the channel. I think just like they are my favourite, I am also their favourite. We have a nice bond and I enjoy working with the team. They have been trying hard to get me on Bigg Boss but haven’t been able to convince me yet.

Lastly, I remember during Balika Vadhu, you would always said that you wanted to be Miss Universe. Life took a different route, right?

(Laughs) Now I want to judge Miss Universe. My dreams have changed and now I want to become Shah Rukh Khan and go and be a judge on international shows.

Balika Vadhu 2 will air Monday-Friday, 8 pm on Colors.

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