daughter, ideal 'bahu', devoted wife, perfect mother, empathetic 'saas', compassionate grandmother, loving great grandmother and immortal great-great grand mother - Tulsi Virani, the complete homemaker who binds the whole family together, finally runs out of breath today. Her departure will mark the end of one of the longest lived characters on Indian telly. The death of this iconic character is a development that might shock Indian couch potatoes into depression.
"Surely, 'Kyunkii Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi' will never be the same again. It's hard to separate 'Kyunkii' from Tulsi or vice versa. She was one of the holding factors responsible for high TRPs for the channel, Star Plus, and nobody can downplay her contribution to Star's rise. However, there was a feeling that her character was overstretched. One can't even count the number of plots she was involved in during her long tenure," says Anita Nayyar, CEO, MPG India.
"Brand Tulsi had crossed the saturation point and it is in the channel's interest to bring in some freshness. I don't expect the TVR of 'Kyunkii' to touch double figures again with or without Tulsi," adds Nayyar.
Last year saw the re-entry of the ideal 'bhabhi' of the small screen, Parvati Aggarwal (played by Saakshi Tanwar), in a glamorous new look. In tandem with the new look, the story of 'Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki (KGGK)' took an 18-year leap and its script took a dramatic turn. As a result, the TVR of 'Kahaani' leapt past 15, making it the highest rating garnered by the programme since its inception.
Can that feat be replicated by 'Kyunkii'?
"Tulsi and Parvati are like cheese and chalk. Tulsi is a much bigger figure with a larger following. But you can't compare Parvati's re-entry with Tulsi's death. The former was in favour of the soap while the latter was against it. Tulsi's exit may result in a sudden jump in the ratings but, over the next few days, they will fall. After all, you can't take Rama out of the Ramayana. I think, in the long run, this will impact the daily soap's ratings adversely," feels Basabdutta Chowdhary, COO, Madison Media Plus.
How important is it to sustain the momentum built by one-off incidents like Tulsi's exit or Parvati's re-entry?
"Promotions are an integral part of the success of any such gimmick. If we recall the death of Mihir (Tulsi's husband) a few years ago, it was backed by on-air promotions. Parvati's re-entry was similar, and promos were on air at least a week before the episode was telecast. But I wonder why aren't they promoting Tulsi's death?" wonders Mona Jain, executive V-P, Zenith Optimedia.
"People will tune in to watch Tulsi die and will switch off once this phase passes away," adds Nayyar.
Media experts also pointed out that Tulsi was a bigger brand than Smriti Irani, who plays the character on screen. "Smriti's soap on SET, 'Virrudh', isn't working out well, and that shows that people relate more to Tulsi than Smriti," concludes Jain.