Anand Abhyankar (50) and the much-lauded Akshay Pendse (33) were the central characters of the show and the channel is struggling to cope with the tragedy.
"Mala Sasu Havi is currently on air; and, given the structure of the story, which is about a father and a son that was until now being played by Abhyankar and Pendse respectively, the characters cannot be done away with" says Nikhil Sane, senior vice-president, Zee Marathi. "Hence, we have to find the right replacements," Mala Sasu Havi airs from Monday through Saturday and averages around 3.5 TVRs (C&S, 4+, Maharashtra).
Sane says the channel has already begun talking to senior actors but the names are yet to be finalised. "Replacing Abhyankar will be especially very tough because frankly, he was in a superlative league," he says.
Will the change in faces affect the viewership for the show?
Ironically, in 2008, when popular veteran actor Vihang Nayak (58) died in a similar car accident on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway, it was Abhyankar who was called upon to replace him in Avghaachi Sansaar - another popular serial on Zee Marathi. With Abhyankar's going, the wheel has come full circle.