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‘Shastri Sisters’ to build 7 pm band for Colors

MUMBAI: Colors is building the 7 pm band. Fighting in this early primetime hour will be ‘Shastri Sisters’, a show that follows the lives of four sisters as they make their journey from Kanpur to a Punjabi mohalla in Delhi’s Lajpat Nagar.

‘Shastri Sisters’ brings to the fore the culture and values of the quintessential Indian family by celebrating the bond between four young sisters who are each other’s pillars of strength in a new city.

Launching on 21 July, the show will air from Monday to Saturday filling in the empty slot at 7 pm on the channel which was until now airing repeats of its other fiction property ‘Uttaran’.

Shastri Sisters

Produced by Shakuntalam Telefilms, the show has been inspired by events in the life of the co-founder and creative head Neelima Bajpai. Having her paternal grandparents’ house in Kanpur and being brought up in Delhi, the concept had been in Bajpai’s mind for quite a long time.

All it took was a push from her brother-in-law who called the siblings ‘Bajpai Sisters’.

Speaking to TelevisionPost.com, Bajpai said, “I was somewhat inspired by my own life and have borrowed many aspects from my sisters’ lives after taking their permission. I have also stayed in Lajpat Nagar so it came in handy while writing the show. It also helped me to give inputs to the writers on the bonding between sisters.”

Bajpai then got in touch with a Colors’ official in February this year, who then forwarded her to the channel’s CEO Raj Nayak and weekday programming head Prashant Bhatt. Out of the two shows presented to them, the channel chose this one.

Bhatt stated, “Through ‘Shastri Sisters’, we are looking at presenting a story people can relate to—a slice-of-life tale that brings alive the bitter-sweet moments of life as experienced by four young sisters. Every viewer will find himself or herself in the story. And we are delighted to be partnering Shakuntalam Telefilms once again to create a show that I’m sure will touch hearts and make each of you smile.”

The rest took off fast as shooting commenced within three months and is presently looking at a long format. However, Bajpai mentioned that they have signed the contract for a year, and the future will be decided as per the show’s performance.

Although it’s an emotional story, the sisters are not shown as overly melodramatic and elicit a positive feeling from the viewers through the bonding. Thus, the feel-good show does not feature any antagonists at all.

Starting life afresh with new dreams and aspirations, the four friends for life are Alka (Neha Pednekar), Anushka (Ishita Ganguly), Devyani (Sonal Vengurlekar) and Peeya (Pragati Chourasiya).

Interestingly, the reel vibes have passed on to the real world too, with the four actors behaving like sisters off screen and helping each other.

Sonal Vengurlekar, who plays the third sister Devyani, had a memorable experience when she learnt that she was to drive a Scooty for the opening sequence and since she didn’t know how to, she had only about 10 days to learn. She still recalls how she fell a number of times before being able to give the shot.

Ishita Ganguly, who plays the role of Anushka, moved from Kolkata to Mumbai for the role.

Looking at the real and reel camaraderie between the actors, Bajpai believed that they have got a good cast and went ahead with some diction workshops to help them understand the nuances of the typical Kanpur language which has been used in the show a lot.

Bajpai added, “During shooting, we spent a lot of time in Delhi. We shot extensively across New Delhi—Lajpat Nagar, Chandni Chowk and Pahad Ganj—to bring alive the storyline. We have tried to incorporate things from a normal family atmosphere and the set is built in a middle-class style. We put in personal elements of each character including books and photos, and our emotional message is that sisters are forever.”

Other nuances that were incorporated into the show were how people know each other very well in small cities, and how you borrow things from neighbours and have small tiffs.

So while the story starts in Kanpur, it will show the sisters shifting base to Delhi within the first week itself. Thereon, Kanpur will be presented through the four girls’ culture, sensibilities and values.

Alka, Anushka, Devyani and Peeya find their lives changing drastically as they follow their father, Narayan Shastri (Rajesh Jais), who gets transferred to New Delhi owing to his government job. Facing the new world head on, smiling through not-so-easy moments of life, the Shastri Sisters become each other’s biggest strengths.

The show will also feature other characters like the do-gooder Delhi-based landlord Mr Sareen (Girish Sehdev), popularly known as ‘Lalaji’ in the moholla, who loves his daily dose of whiskey. Minty Sareen (Neelu Kohli), the snobbish and stubborn wife of the landlord, who is the gossip queen of the neighbourhood and the proud mother of two sons Rajat (Vijayendra Kumeria) and Neel (Sumit Bhardwaj).

Colors has undertaken a 360-degree marketing campaign across cable, radio, OOH including in-train branding, print and television. The channel has also designed a special digital campaign encapsulating an interactive quiz across social media platforms.