In a time when television shows go off air without even completing a century, Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai will today successfully air its 3000th episode. Helmed by Rajan Shahi, the popular Star Plus drama launched in January 2009 as the story of Akshara and Naitik who journey together as partners brought together in an arranged marriage setup. Hina Khan and Karan Mehra made their acting debut with the serial.
The early days: Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai promoted the fact that a wedding is not just a marriage between two individuals but also two families. The simple storytelling and projection of daily life worries made it a delightful and relatable watch. Hina and Karan nailed the emotions of a young couple brought together by destiny. The ups and downs in their love story resonated with many young couples in the country. The show also started the trend of grand weddings in Indian television, with Akshara’s wedding being telecast for more than a week. The Marwari setup also came as a novel concept on television as no show ever delved deep into the custom and rituals of the community.
What worked: Television audiences are usually treated to a volatile saas-bahu equation, and for the first time, the makers projected a rather real bonding. While there were moments of tiffs and disagreements between the TV bahu and her saas, the show painted a usual household picture beautifully. Also, Akshara and Naitik were not shown as head-over-heels in love from the first meeting. Their affection grew with time and so did the viewers’ connection with them. The show has focused on pertinent family issues like love marriage, inter-caste wedding, pre-marital sex, divorces, domestic violence with utmost sincerity and sensitivity. But one track that left a mark in the audience’s heart was when Akshara got her widowed father-in-law married again, knowing well he had a void in life post his wife’s death. Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai also promoted the joint family culture that resonated much with the seniors in the house. And the most important factor that worked in favour of the serial was the absence of typical vamps and naagins. It could well become a case study on how to run a show without adding illogical twists, turns and supernatural drama.
Biggest challenges: While everything seemed rosy for the team, the replacement curse struck the show. Karan Mehra decided to quit due to ill health in 2016. Without the male lead, a show could have crashed but Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai managed to retain its popularity. The shocker came when months later, Hina Khan also quit, wanting to experiment with her roles. The gossip though states that the actor was asked to leave after she regularly threw tantrums on the set. While Vishal Singh took charge as the new Naitik, Akshara’s character was killed off. Apart from the lead actors, young stars Rohan Mehra and Kanchi Singh also moved out and were replaced with new faces.
The new generation: The ‘leap’ of faith that makers take while introducing a new generation can go either way. When Hina Khan and Karan Mehra were still around, the show had introduced their teenage kids as the track moved to South Africa. The loyal fanbase wholeheartedly accepted the kids as they felt it was the most natural progression in their favourite Naitik and Akshara’s life. And when the lead cast decided to move out, Shivangi Joshi was brought in to play Naitik-Akshara’s daughter Naira. Having grown up with her parents’ values, Naira had a more contemporary take to situations in life. Married to Kartik (Mohsin Khan), the two characters now shoulder the show. As for fans, the on-screen couple continues to be one of the most loved ones on the small screen.
What still works for the show: The fact that the show promotes the importance of family resonates with the audience. In a time when most family members are placed in different cities, it’s always an emotional moment to celebrate those close relationships. Also, through the show, many couples have learnt to overcome difficulties. The lead characters part ways but love brings them together. It shows that fighting for your love is worth the effort. The daily also works for it not only showcases problems but also puts forth ways to resolve it. The recent track around an elderly male molesting young girls in his own family and how the women stand up against him was much appreciated by viewers.
Also, weddings and festivals are a time of grand celebrations on Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai. While the younger lot go gaga over the exquisite attires worn by actors, it’s a nostalgic feel for the older ones. And above all, even after years of its telecast, the makers are yet to introduce a dayan, naagin or makkhi on the show. There is no kidnapping, plastic surgery or rising from death. The show is as good as watching your close ones enjoying their usual lives, through a television set. But of course, with some added drama and rona dhona. There is a sense of positivity and reality in the show, that no other serial offers on the small screen.
Spin-off: Following the success of Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai, Rajan Shahi launched its spin-off Yeh Rishtey Hain Pyaar Ke. While the story is a completely different one, the vibe of the show continues to be the same. The lead protagonist is Naira’s cousin and some of the older family members are part of both shows. While spin-off TV shows is a new concept in India, fans of Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai welcomed the new series with open arms and have been showering equal love on both projects. The spin-off stars Shaheer Sheikh and Rhea Sharma in the lead roles.
With this milestone, Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai makes history as the longest-running television show. Congratulations, to the entire team!