#NoSurbhiNoIshqbaaaz continues to break all records
Yesterday, after it was reported that Ishqbaaaz is heading for a generation leap, social media has been in an uproar. The #NoSurbhiNoIshqbaaaz tag has been trending for over 12 hours straight. It has garnered a quarter of a million Tweets within 24 hours and the trend shows no signs of slowing down. Many fans claim that they’d rather have Ishqbaaaz end with Nakuul Mehta and Surbhi Chandna as Shivaay and Annika, respectively. Much of the viewership is resolutely against a generation leap with only one of the actors being retained going forward.
On the surface it may appear that this is more about the lead pairs’ chemistry, however, there’s more to it. For many of the viewers, it’s about the character arcs, especially Annika’s.
Fans react to the future of Ishqbaaaz
“One of Annika’s main conflicts was that she was always afraid of happiness, love, care, and calling someone her own. But most importantly, happiness. There are many dialogues that allude to this. Annika always cursed her fate, often referring to it as ‘2 rupees’. She had so many insecurities and fears that wouldn’t ever trust in her own good luck. She had always been afraid of the possibility of fate playing games. It’s why she has a grudge against God. So, when Shivaay fell in love with her (and vice versa), she finally got past her insecurities. She had her initial apprehensions but she let them go because she found security and love in Shivaay. It such a process for her, but she finally came through and embraced it all. It is part of her character progression, which is the heart and soul of Shivika. Their spotless progression. Killing her off is like diminishing that entire journey and growth.” — Sam, @samrin_s (Twitter)
“The viewers deserve to see that Shivaay and Annika lived a good life. That their love brought them joy and peace. They as characters deserve to be in a space free of external troubles and just living. Killing them off and having them ‘meet’ in heaven is far too archaic. Star Plus is supposed to embody Nayi Baat. What’s new about killing off characters?” — Sid, @starlightsidx (Twitter)
Why do fans wish for Annika to be retained?
“In a society where men are the symbol of strength, the way he speaks about Annika is refreshing. He constantly, casually and comfortably admits his wife Annika is the cornerstone and foundation to his Great Wall of SSO. As a lover, he’s naturally protective towards her, but never once doubts her strength. Instead, he credits her for his own. Annika is the first woman on ITV to be straightaway recognized as a source of strength. By killing her character you’re giving the wrong message about her, and women in general.” — Fay, @fayslay (Twitter)
“By killing Annika, it sends the message that after being beaten in the dark as an orphan, she would never find the light at the end. By killing Annika, the message is that Annika despite being self-sufficient, couldn’t even save herself. By killing Annika, it promotes the idea that if you will continuously suffer in life. By killing Annika, it sends the message that after everything regaining everything she lost, she will lose it all again. By killing Annika, you are destroying the notion of hope. By killing Annika you are butchering her whole arc of overcoming her fear of happiness. You contradict Shivaay’s believe that he can protect Annika. Annika didn’t let her walls down, only to be killed.” — AJ, @moonstruckswans (Twitter)
The future of Ishqbaaaz
Evidently, for viewers it’s not just about the actor but the characters too. However, there is an argument to be made for retaining the original actors. In general, replacing a lead actor has not been well-received in recent years. In Saath Nibhana Saathiya, the departure of Mohammad Nazim was not well received and ratings were affected. Consequently, they had to bring back the actor and the show once again saw a surge in popularity. Likewise, Kasam Tere Pyaar Ki replaced Kratika Senegar and the ratings were adversely affected, which prompted Kratika’s return. Similarly, Madhubala Ek Ishq Ek Junoon saw its numbers take a dip when there was a generation leap. The show’s male lead Vivian D’sena was replaced but he returned owing to the dipping numbers. In the last five years, generation leaps have only worked with a complete cast change. This was true of Ek Tha Raja Ek Thi Rani, which only surged in popularity after it’s generation leap. However, in that instance, the original leads had not been able to cement their legacy as their characters. This made it much easier for the second set of leads to establish themselves.
Why it is unlikely that a generation leap will work
In the case of Ishqbaaaz, it seems unlikely that a show with only one of the leads taking the show forward post generation leap would work because of the legacy that Shivaay and Annika leave behind. While Qubool Hai was able to move forward with a generation leap, the surround circumstances were different. By the time the first generation leap took place, the male leads had already been replaced twice. Karan Singh Grover was replaced by Raqesh Bapat in just over a year of the show’s tenure while Rishabh Sinha had been replaced by Vikrant Massey earlier. Thus the audience most likely found it easier to accept a new lead opposite Surbhi Jyoti.
Regardless of where Ishqbaaaz is heading, one thing is clear. If the show moves forward by concluding Shivaay’s and Annika’s characters with an unhappy ending, it will likely undo all the narrative momentum. When the redux was introduced, the showrunners said it was done so to maintain the integrity of the original characters. However, by introducing either a generation leap or reincarnation story, it presents significant issues. In both instances, the writing is in stark contrast to Star Plus’s new ethos. It also further diminishes the credibility of the showrunner’s and their promise.