Generation leaps seem to be the in thing on daily soaps. Practically every soap is taking the jump, though a lot of the cast is reluctant to age.
Iqbal Khan, who was asked to age in Kaisa Yeh Pyar Hai, told IANS: "I was ok with aging by some years. But generations? That was awkward. Finally, Ekta (Kapoor), who is very fond of me, adjusted my character accordingly and all is well."
Not all producers are that accommodating. When Manish Goel refused to age in the afternoon soap Bhabhi, he was asked to leave.
Even Ekta didn't give in to Nausheen Ali Sardar's "won't-age stance" in Kkusum and replaced her with Mansi Joshi. It's another matter that the serial went downhill after the replacement.
Ronit Roy was persuaded to sport salt-and-pepper hair on Kasauti Zindagi Kay to take the gen-leap. However, on Ekta's Kyunkii Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, Ronit appeared with jet-black hair to play father to grownup kids.
Smriti Irani, who plays the new 'Ba' in Kyunkii Saas..., says she had no qualms about turning grey.
"It was a fallacy created in part of the press that I didn't want look old on screen. I'm an actress playing a vital role in a soap. I've to go with the plot. In fact, I insisted that I should look old to play Ba."
As Sahara's only USP Woh Rehne Wali Mehlon Ki (WRWMK) prepares to take that leap, its petite producer Kavita Barjatya frankly admits gen-leaps are the order of daily soaps.
"It can't be helped. With daily soaps being telecast five days a week, viewers need to keep interest. The story gets exhausted very fast and so do viewers. In WRWMK we didn't want the storyline to drag. To retain a freshness we had to take a leap."
Did WRWMK have to change because its leading man Arjun Punj decided to opt out?
"To be very honest, when we decided to make the leap we asked both the leads, Arjun and Reema Kapoor, if they would like to move ahead chronologically with their characters. They declined. So we re-worked the story so that Reema remains. But she'll now appear as her character's daughter Pari.
"The story no longer demanded Arjun. Hence he left. It was very simple. If they had agreed to age, they'd have done so together. Otherwise, both characters had to go," explained Kavita.
Kavita is acutely aware of her responsibility as the TV software producer of her home banner Rajshri.
"None of my seniors at home have ever interfered with my decision. But they're all there to guide me. I don't want to do anything that would compromise the Rajshri banner. I'm constantly aware of the values that my banner has upheld for so many years.
"In fact, I myself started reading the 'Ramayan' after I got involved with WRWMK. At the same time I've to make sure that the daily remains entertaining."
Rajshri's second soap Pyar Ke Do Naam Ek Radha Ek Shyam on STAR Plus has apparently not done as well.
"I agree it hasn't generated all-India interest. But it has generated huge TRPs in parts of Uttar Pradesh where STAR Plus had made marginal impact until this soap."
A generation leap is on the anvil for Pyar Ke Do Naam as well.
"I guess that's inevitable. We've another project being planned. Family dramas are in. And viewers want to see another generation take over after a while. Actually, I'd like to refer to our serial as Woh Rehne Wali Mehlon Ki Part 2 after the leap. It's a healthy trend. It keeps both the makers and the viewers on their toes," said Kavita.