Mumbai, April 15: Television's most-touted makeover does not seem to have delivered.
Sony Entertainment Television, where the soap Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahin is aired, may be wondering whether beauty is indeed skin deep.
Jassi, the eponymous 'ugly-duckling' heroine of the serial who was expected to pump up the TRPs of the channel with her image makeover, is a stunning glamour puss now.
But alas! She has lost many of her admirers.
As Jassi began to transform her 'inner beauty' into outward good looks starting in the first week of March, there was a buzz around her that was complemented by top corporate sponsors making a beeline to cash in on the event that was expected to get a stupendous number of eyeballs.
Each component of Jassi's new look was sponsored brand by brand. While health concern VLCC took charge of Jassi's figure and grooming, Kaya Skin Clinic promised her glowing skin and a host of fashion experts and designers took care of the rest. Even Mauritius, the country where the sequence was shot, and Kurkure, the snack, made an appearance as brands.
But it seems Jassi's makeover did not translate into a facelift for Sony, as the TVRs (ratings by TAM, the television viewership measurement agency) in the Hindi-speaking markets show. (See chart)
Last week's ratings are around the 'normal' ratings of Jassi around January, says a TAM spokesperson.
If the post-makeover ratings are gradually moving southwards and stabilising towards the serial's average TVRs during the days when Jassi was ugly, the viewers are more vocal. It is not as if beauty repels. But they mourn the loss of the loveable, not-good-looking girl-next-door with spirit and intelligence who has now become strikingly beautiful, but only as beautiful as any glamorous heroine in a K-serial.
'I still watch Jassi every day,' says Sharmily Maity, a call centre executive. 'I still do. But give me the old Jassi any day. I can't take her in a supermodel avatar.'
Jassi, by being processed into beauty, has lost her identity. 'I used to watch every single episode. But I stopped watching the serial the day her transformation began. It's the same artificial beauty that you see in every saas-bahu. She has abandoned what she stood for ' that brains and a good heart are enough to get on and beauty is not necessary,' says Darakhshan Khan, who works in a media organisation.
Amala Bali, an employee in a courier company, says she used to watch Jassi from time to time. But with her makeover, she has stopped.
Sony, which saw its market share in entertainment jump with the launch of Jassi in 2003, says it is not disappointed. 'Jassi just wants to prove it is not enough to be na've or honest, it is necessary to be worldly-wise,' says a spokesperson. She admits there is a difference of opinion among viewers on Jassi's beauty, but says the makeover was not intended to push up ratings.
On whether Jassi will go back, Sony says that is not on the cards, as the soap's storyline will follow that of the original Latin-American serial it is based on: Yo Soy Betty La Fea.