Ratan Singh is still in danger, and Diya is still hovering around him protectively, working hard to protect him from his enemies.

In the Sony Entertainment Television show Pehredaar Piya Ki, Ratan was a nine-year-old boy from a wealthy Rajput family and Diya was his 18-year-old guardian who eventually married him to protect him from his rapacious relatives. Pehredaar Piya Ki was taken off air on August 28 following numerous complaints about the romantic track between a child and an adult woman and its endorsement of child marriage. Producer Shashi Sumeet Productions has returned to Sony with Rishta Likhenge Hum Naya, which shares with its predecessor a similar premise, the same sets and locations, and lead actress Tejasswi Prakash Wayangankar.

“We were very disappointed with the backlash that Pehredaar Piya Ki received,” producer Sumeet Mittal said. “The cast, crew and technicians had put in their finest efforts. The idea was that they should not be disheartened and that they should come back with a better, engaging story which could draw the attention of the audience rather than going haywire on controversy.”

Diya rescues Ratan from a crocodile in Rishta Likhenge Hum Naya.

The new series went on air on Sony on November 7. Its basic plot is broadly the same: a dying Rajput patriarch asks 18-year-old Diya to look after his palace and business until his nine-year-old son comes of age. The former royal suspects that someone from his family wants to kill Ratan and get hold of his inheritance. The difference is that Ratan is now a 21-year-old graduate, who returns from London, where he has been studying, to stake his claim to his wealth. Ratan is played by Rohit Suchanti.

“The first thing we told our writing team was to think of it as a new show,” Mittal said. “We changed the name of the show so that audience get a fresh perspective and at the same time get a whiff of Pehredaar Piya Ki as well.”

The revamped plot line has resulted in the recasting of Diya’s character. Unlike in Pehredaar Piya Ki, Diya is far more confident and combative and has evolved into an action heroine. She wrestles men operating drone bombs, rides a horse into the desert and gives the villains a chase while dressed in a very heavy lehenga.

In the first episode, Diya stages Ratan’s homecoming even as other members of his family start plotting his murder. Diya is one step ahead of the rest. Her traditional finery conceals her armour – she pairs her earrings with a Bluetooth handset – and she sets up CCTV cameras across the palace.

“Diya was very well appreciated by the audience, and we thought it was good to have the same heritage in the storytelling,” Mittal said. “Earlier she was the darling daughter of her parents and did not know how to react. Now that there is a leap of 12 long years, she is obviously much more evolved. It is her independent journey, where she has faced a lot of trauma and undergone sacrifice.”

Rishta Likhenge Hum Naya on SET India.

Some of the other actors are from the previous show, such as Jiten Lalwani as Bhuvan Singh and Girish Sachdev as Sajjan Singh. “We could have taken Pehredaar Piya Ki very gradually if it had stayed on air,” Mittal said. “In those 12 years, we could have done so many things. If you tell a daily soap maker that you will take away one year of the story, he will die and tell you not to do that. Of course it was difficult.”

The age difference that persists between Diya and Ratan – she is 30, while he is 21 – makes a romantic sub-plot a possibility that is far less criminal than in the previous show. Mittal had previously told Scroll.in that Pehredaar Piya Ki did not promote child marriage, but was about a “rare bonding”.

Mittal remains convinced that his intentions have been misunderstood. “We have always given a good reason and a good side for the story,” he said. “The kid did not have anyone and was surrounded by evil men and women. All the scenes of Diya and Ratan happened in the kid’s space. We always treated Diya as a nine-year-old girl instead of treating Ratan like an 18-year-old boy. But it was not liked by people. So rather than proving our point, we wanted to come up with a new show.”

The previous show also had numerous fans, and Mittal hopes they will return for the new version. “It was a different breed of audience who spoke about [Pehredaar Piya Ki] negatively,” Mittal said. “The hardcore audience watching the show still liked it and the controversy did not bring any change in the ratings. It should have shown descending numbers, but it didn’t. The internet audience is different from the real audience.”

(With inputs from Sanjana Venkatesh).

Pehredaar Piya Ki on SET India.