By Subhash K. Jha, Indo-Asian News Service
Mumbai, (IANS) Generation leaps are a must in Ekta Kapoor's serials and her long running family saga "Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi" is seeing one again, now that the TV tycoon has finally found a face to play the new Tulsi.
"She is Moni Roy, a Bengali student from Delhi. She knows nothing about television. She went to the auditions for a lark with her friends. And she landed up getting the plum part," Ekta told IANS.
"Now she is Krishna Tulsi. I hope viewers accept her. She is very raw right now. That works to her advantage because she doesn't come across as someone who knows it all. More than acting it is your attitude that works with viewers. Moni has the right attitude. The rest is up to the script and destiny."
A new boy is also being launched opposite Moni.
"He has just been cast. He is called Pulkit. We got him from Manish Goswami's show 'Sixer'. Pulkit had a contract with them and it expired. Now he is in 'Kyunki Saas...'.
"He was the last person to be cast. We didn't like any of the boys we auditioned. Then we heard Pulkit was a good guy. He was on in no time. We'll have to shoot all the portions pertaining to Hardwar with him in Mumbai."
Ekta has written the first eight episodes of the generation leap avatar of "Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi".
"Yup, we are all set. More than a birthday gift to fans of 'Kyunki', this new avatar was set for June 7 because 7 is my lucky number. I had planned it for April 7, then May 7. Finally, when we found our new Tulsi it happened on my birthday June 7.
"Two years ago I had launched the film 'Kya Kool Hain Hum' on my birthday. It was a hit. And I had started 'Kyunki...' on my dad's birthday."
It was a mammoth task to find the right girl for the new Tulsi role.
"We had a number of auditions all over the country. We distributed pamphlets, did radio interviews...we short-listed 11 girls. None of them seemed to match up. I didn't know whom I wanted. But I did know I'd know her when I saw her.
"There was this one girl that wasn't in the short-list whom we wanted to cast in 'Kasautii Zindagi Kay'. We flew her to Mumbai and completely styled her. And then I knew 'Kasautii...' couldn't have her. Moni was the new 'Kyunki' girl."
But Smriti Irani will continue to be the serial's pivot.
"It's her story. That doesn't change. She moves to a new level in the plot. She'll continue to be the catalyst of 'Kyunki...' Krishna Tulsi will be a mirror image of Tulsi while Smriti will now become Ba. When the serial started, Tulsi's anchor was Ba. And today she's all set to take over the role of Ba."
Every other member of the cast remains. Plans to bump off 'Ba' Sudha Shivpuri's character have been put on hold due to her popularity.
"She'll now be very old on the show. She'll celebrate her 108th birthday on the soap. People love Sudha-ji so much. When she was shooting in Hardwar recently crowds of people genuflected before her, including grown-up men. Yes, she'll die, but after 35 more episodes."
Ekta is looking forward to the leap.
"For a long time we have been planning it. The first generation of Viranis lasted for only 360 episodes. But the second generation was for about 600 episodes. And now we hope the third generation will last for 1,000 episodes."
Ekta's "Kya Hoga Nimmo Ka" has become the first soap to be successful on STAR One.
"We shot for it in Mauritius last week. I was in the water all the time. It was awesome fun. While the whole unit would shoot and then party, I'd be underwater, snorkelling. I saw an eel and nearly fainted underwater. I thought it was a snake. I took along two friends from Delhi, also my friends Natasha and Shabbir Boxwallah."
Speaking on her new filmmaking partnership with Sanjay Gupta, Ekta said: "Sanjay is the coolest guy I have met. He's a rock star. I love the music in his films. When I saw 'Zinda' I got his number to congratulate him. To collaborate with someone who's a master at production will be good fun."
As for birthday celebrations, she said: "I rejoice in work. I'll get withdrawal symptoms if I don't work. I'm planning three-four more shows. I'll have my birthday party on July 7 when I have some breathing space. I'd rather finish my workload and then enjoy my party."