The year 2012 has been a 'leap' year in every which way as far as the Indian small screen is concerned. Popular shows like "Pavitra Rishta", "Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai" and "Kya Hua Tera Vaada" are leaping forward - by months or years to take the story forward and keep viewers engaged.
Zee TV's "Pavitra Rishta" took a six-month leap Monday as did Star Plus' "Yeh Rishta..." that moved five years ahead; Sony's "Kya Hua Tera Vaada" is also expected to move nine or 15 years ahead this week.
Zee TV's "Hitler Didi" moved ahead by eight years in September and Life OK's "Dil Se Di Dua. Saubhagyavati Bhava" took a leap of seven years around the same time.
The idea is to keep the audience hooked, says actor Sameer Soni, whose show "Parichay: Nayee Zindagi Kay Sapno Ka" on Colors took a nine-year leap in August.
"It does take a little time to hook on (to a leap in a show), but then with the continuity of the character, it is just a matter of time before viewers start adjusting to the newer show," Sameer told IANS.
"If this (change) goes well, then 90 percent time, the show is a success. Ultimately, all you do is take the same characters and put them in a new situation," he added.
Shows like "Pavitra Rishta" and "Uttaran" have taken multiple leaps to keep the story going and it is often done to revive dipping television rating points (TRPs).
Veteran actress Aruna Irani, who has featured in television shows like "Vaidehi", "Jhansi Ki Rani" and "Main Laxmi Tere Aangan Ki", feels it is important for writers to bring a change in the script as the audience tends to get bored with the same plot over time.
"For how long can you talk about the same thing? It is definitely very important to take a turn because even the audience will not like the same thing for a long time. The writer has to turn the story around after some time because it has to hold your interest," Aruna told IANS.
The trend is not new.
Ekta Kapoor's trendsetting shows "Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahi Thi", "Kahaani Ghar Ghar Kii" and "Kasauti Zindagi Kay", which ruled the roost for a long time, popularised the formula.
At that time, however, a leap meant the addition of a white streak in the hairstyle, or a pair of spectacles, or more conservative blouses, or a walking stick. The leaps are a tad different now.
When the story of "Bade Achche Lagte Hain" moved five years ahead, actress Sakshi Tanwar's character Priya was shown to be more modern in her dressing than before. Same was the case with actress Renuka Israni, who plays Priya's mother in the show.
In "Uttaran", actress Tina Dutta was shown in a double role post the leap. In one role, she played middle-aged Ichcha, clad in simple and dull saris, while in the role of Ichcha's look-alike daughter Meethi, she was seen in bright and colourful fusion wear.
Also, earlier, the leaps were long - as much as 20 years. But that has reduced to a few years, and sometimes, as less as six months, as in the case of "Pavitra Rishta".
Often, actors leave shows after a leap for the simple reason that they don't want to look older than their own age.
(Yashika Mathur can be contacted at email@example.com )