Finally, it's happening. Soap queen Ekta Kapoor has killed her favourite character Tulsi Virani, played by Smriti Irani, in the long running TV serial Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi.
But while Tulsi dies in Wednesday's episode, making way for Smriti's exit from the serial, another TV actress, Gautami, is stepping into her shoes.
"Due to certain changes we had to do this," Nivedita Basu, creative director of Balaji Films, told IANS on phone from Mumbai.
"We are not killing the character, we are killing the actor. We will replace Smriti with Gautami in the next episode," said Basu who is also responsible for giving a different look to key characters in the STAR TV serial.
"We can't give Gautami a glamorized look because she plays a 70 plus woman. So we are going for simple looks. As far as the public's response is concerned, they will certainly have problems accepting a new face. Let's see what happens."
Long back when Ekta killed Mihir Virani, Tulsi's husband, in the series, it created mass hysteria and viewers demanded that Ekta bring him back.
The prospect of Tulsi's death has drawn a mixed response so far.
"It's a very lengthy serial and we are tired of Tulsi and her lectures. We don't want to see the same person again and again. We need a change," said Sujata Shahi, who works as an assistant professor at a management institute here.
"'Kyunki...' hit the tube in 2000 and Tulsi was portrayed as an ideal daughter and later she played a model wife, mother and grandmother to keep the entire family together.
"Powerful women never die. Smriti has created a niche for herself as Tulsi and people may come and go but she will always be remembered," said Padmakali, an avid Kyunki watcher.
Monica More, a professional who watches the serial when she gets the time, hit the nail on the head: "As far as the implications of Tulsi's death are concerned, it depends on the circumstances. If she dies a natural death, it will be understood. But if she dies under suspicious circumstances there will be a question mark - will she come back with a new face..."
Smriti's exit from the series was expected ever since she turned producer and launched her company, Ugraya Entertainment.
Though she started her first production Thodi Si Zameen Thoda Sa Aasman in collaboration with Balaji Telefilms, due to ideological differences Ekta soon opted out. After that rumours about Smriti and Ekta falling out became stronger.
Currently, Smriti's other serial Virrudh, which is aired on Sony TV, is keeping her on her toes.
Tulsi's death is expected to bring about a sea of change in the relationships in the Virani house as well. Great drama is about to unfold in the coming episodes of Kyunki... Die-hard fans, don't miss it.