For most girls being brought up in the lush villages of Punjab, ‘living the dream’ is being married to an NRI, says the decked-up duo of TV actors Shefali Sharma and Neha Bagga. Though an issue that had been addressed long ago through movies, television serial Bani…Ishq Da Kalma (on Colors) claims to be the first show bringing to light the NRI fixation of Punjabi families.
Looking Punjabi-wedding ready, Shefali (who plays the character of Bani) and Neha (Rajji) say the serial is backed by in-depth research of the region. “Being from Amritsar, I grew up seeing girls being forced into NRI marriages. One of my friends had a similar story — she got married five years ago to an NRI and is waiting till today for him to return and take her along. Another case I got to know of was of this woman whose husband left her just before their children were to be born. Today, those children are married and the husband is nowhere in the picture,” says Shefali and adds, “If these men aren’t settled properly, why do they get married?”
Neha intervenes here by saying, “What lacks at our end is a thorough background check; parents should not get swayed by the ‘NRI’ tag. Marriage is a beautiful institution; it should not be imposed on the girl.”
“But then again, we are not saying that all NRI marriages fail. Some of them work beautifully,” clarifies Shefali.
At Hotel Taj, Sector 17, Chandigarh, on Monday, the girls go on to explain their difficult-to-walk-in attires by saying, “We are dressed as brides because in the serial we are entering the ‘bride phase’. When the promotions started, we used to find it a little difficult to carry such heavy jewellery and lehenga, but now we’ve gotten used to it.”
Chandigarh girl Neha Bagga, who is in her first year at UBS, Panjab University, is visibly excited to be visiting the city, as she says, “I miss the gehri route the most. The saddest part is that in Mumbai we start our day with Vada Pao; such a contrast to the desi ghee ke paranthe we were brought up on.”