Jamshedpur girl is India's most popular bride - 16-yr-old Pratyusha beats contestants from Mumbai, Lucknow to play Anandi in Balika Vadhu

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  • Published 26.07.10

Jamshedpur, July 25: The verdict is out. Jamshedpur girl Pratyusha Banerjee is nayi Anandi in the mega television soap Balika Vadhu, a take on social malaises such as child marriage. And she has social networking site Facebook to thank for.

Sixteen-year-old Pratyusha — who beat two other finalists, Lucknow’s Nivedita Tiwari and Mumbai’s Ketaki Chitale, to replace young Anandi Avika Gor — told The Telegraph that she decided to join the fray after a friend on Facebook told her about the talent hunt.

“Keeping yourself updated on social networking sites can be of immense help. A Facebook friend told me that a production house was searching for a fresh face for a television serial set in rural Rajasthan. The name of the soap was not disclosed. I came to know details in June while auditions took place in February,” the former student of Kerala Public School, Kadma, said over phone from Mumbai.

Pratyusha was already working for a Punjabi serial on Doordarshan, Jalandhar, when she went for the auditions and was shortlisted from among about 70 contestants. She made her small screen debut as Anandi on July 22 after viewers voted her through SMS.

According to parents Shankar and Soma Banerjee, who are both social workers, Pratyusha had a knack for acting since childhood. “She used to say she would be the ‘No. 1 actress’ one day. Friends and relatives had little doubt given the way she carried herself,” said her doting father.

Her parents had always wanted her to complete her plus two studies before delving into a career in acting. “But that was perhaps not her destiny. She believed in herself and has proved it again,” he said, adding that Pratyusha intended to appear for her board exam through National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) in Mumbai.

The gutsy and very candid teenager said she was thoroughly enjoying her new role. Between shots, she said she read and rehearsed her script. So, is she comfortable playing a child bride?

“I understand the character well because I had been watching the soap on television from its very beginning. Besides, acting is something I love. And here, I get a bonus in the form of beautiful lehenga-choli sets and colourful bangles — my dream attire since childhood,” she chuckled on the phone.

A nine-to-nine schedule notwithstanding, Balika Vadhu’s nayi Anandi is beaming with enthusiasm. “I do not feel the pressure because I enjoy doing what I am doing,” she said.

Earlier, Pratyusha had signed for a role in another television soap, Rakta Samman, which, unfortunately, did not take off in her favour.

Currently, she wants to fix her focus on Balika Vadhu. “I want people to recognise me and love me as Anandi now. Bollywood can happen later,” she added.