19 years of Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi: How the show changed the face of Indian television

Sana Farzeen
Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu is a case study on how to run a successful show for almost a decade. (Express Archive Photo)

In the early 2000s, when the clock struck 10:30 pm, life ceased to exist for most people as they hurriedly switched on their television sets to watch Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi. The perfect bahu Tulsi (Smriti Irani) welcomed the audience into her home, little knowing that she was going to change the face of Indian television with her show.

Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu was a trendsetter and a case study on how to run a successful show for almost a decade. The daily also went on to make stars out of actors like Smriti Irani, Amar Upadhaya, Hiten Tejwani, Ronit Roy, Gauri Pradhan and Karishma Tanna among more. It was also for the first time, the nation laughed and cried with the characters.

Many attempted to recreate Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu’s magic but everyone failed. (Express Archive Photo)

The biggest example of the phenomena was when the lead actor Mihir Virani was killed by the makers. Leave alone housewives, the tragedy was discussed in offices and even schools. The nation actually got together and carried out protests to bring Mihir back on the show. After all, how could Ram-Sita (Mihir-Tulsi) ever be apart?

Giving in to the pressure of the audience, Mihir was brought back amid joy and celebration. The episode that marked his comeback clocked a historical figure on the rating chart, a number no show could ever surpass. This also started the ‘rising from the dead’ trend on Indian television. Many shows followed suit, and even today, if a character is bumped off, the audience knows that they might come back soon.

And how can we forget the infamous ‘plastic surgery’. While Rekha popularised the medical procedure long back in Khoon Bhari Maang, Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi took it a notch higher. In those days, usually, after a life-threatening accident, the face would get destroyed. And as the bandage came off the patient’s face, voila, there appeared a new person. Interestingly, the audience lapped up the twist and never questioned how apart from the face, the body could also transform so much.

The daily also started the trend of leaps, which is still a popular go-to retort every time a show’s rating starts declining. Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi saw multiple leaps in its run, and with the new generation, the story also got more contemporary. But the values of Tulsi continued to bind them together.

Apart from Mihir’s return from death, another high point in the show remains when Tulsi killed her wayward son after he rapes his wife. It was probably the first time marital rape was discussed on the dining table. And it was also the show that dared to talk about issues like infidelity, domestic violence, miscarriage and even adoption.

Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi dared to talk about issues like infidelity, domestic violence, miscarriage and even adoption. (Express Archive Photo)

Of course, naysayers will have their own reason to put Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi down. Be it the overacting, the three-shot close-ups or Baa surviving centuries even without elixir. But we can never deny that even after more than a decade of it going off air, Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi continues to be one of the most talked about television shows. Not only did it set multiple records and win awards but also set the bar high for other shows to follow.

For the world, the best bahu could only be Tulsi, and no one else. (Express Archive Photo)

It was the first soap opera to complete 1000 episodes and was dubbed in multiple languages, even some international ones. Many attempted to recreate its magic but everyone failed. For the world, the best bahu could only be Tulsi, and no one else. It was also reported that after the Gujarat earthquake, people gathered to watch the episode of the show, while sitting on the debris outside their home. We don’t think any serial would ever manage to surpass its popularity. For more than a show, Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi is an emotion that one has to experience.