Sunday, 22 September 2013

They've all got it all wrong

All of us have been told stories in our childhood and we loved it. Inducing sleep wasn’t the sole purpose of these stories. The little secret being, we all did fall asleep in the middle of the story  but we all took that story ahead  and created fantastic screenplays in our dreams. With the changing times, the art of storytelling has been modified into different elements , books being one of the oldest and television /films being the latest. 

I’m not getting into, the ‘Do films and television have a positive/negative influence on audiences’ zone.  I’d say, every creation should fulfill its purpose. Not fulfilling the purpose of your creation doesn’t necessarily always end up with misuse. It is also wasting an opportunity you are given. Some people would think of it as a misuse if it had a negative influence on the audiences.  However, what would you say  when a particular show/film  comes up with something absolutely rubbish , in other words wastes its opportunity /doesn’t  fulfill its purpose and people still watch it religiously? Is the show fooling people or the people want to be fooled? 

If you ask channel heads or production houses, they will always say, “people watch this nonsense, they like it, so why stop making it?”. So does the audience really like watching absolute rubbish?

When I see people dancing to the tunes of ‘Laila teri le legi tu likh ke lele’ during an auspicious Indian festival and people (photographers, news channels) propagating it as something Indian ,  I think the situation has gone far worse in terms of what to tell whom . It is more like, 'What all to tell who all’, the latter being more like ‘who all’ (lowers the voice and narrows the worry lines). 

But I most definitely want to tell the Indian Television Industry that ‘They’ve all got it, all wrong’. I have watched most of the Indian television shows since childhood and have been an ardent fan of this medium. When multiplexes and malls hadn’t found their way, back then in the 80’s and 90’s ,Television was such an integral part of our lives. Let me point out that people watched television then because they loved the content and not because watching films in theatres was inaccessible or unaffordable.  The shows then, were content oriented. 

Sensible dialogues, acceptable screenplay , appropriate dramatic direction and good actors left audiences wanting more.  Eminent actors and directors were a part of the television industry then. To name a few Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Naseeruddin Shah, Pankaj Kapoor  and many more  were responsible for what television was then. 

In the late 70’s and early 80’s the entire country witnessed all the entertainment on one channel, ‘DD channel’. Shows like, Byomkesh Bakshi, Karamchand, Mungerilal Ke Haseen Sapne, Buniyaad, Wagle Ki Duniya, Nukkad, Jasoos Vijay,Kahan Gaye Who Log, Malgudi Days, Jungle Book had successfully  managed to  take people away from all their daily tensions to a world of exciting stories.  Ask your parents and they will definitely tell you that they miss them.
In the 90’s, as a child I remember watching sitcoms like Hum Paanch, Jabaan Sambhalke, Ghar Jamai, Shrimaan Shrimati, Office Office, Dekh Bhai Dekh, Yes Boss, Tu Tu Main Main  to name a few. 

Serious shows like Shanti, Saans, Alpviram, and Kora Kaagaz too had some excellent performances and not to forget a brilliant storyline.

Why don’t we get to see such shows today?

The channels and PH’s, they should know that when there is parity in the market the customer prefers the worse over worst and that does not make the worse, best. The truth remains the same. All the T.V shows are horrible /unbearable and people choose to watch shows that are comparatively less horrible, but that does not take away the fact that the show  with the highest TRP is HORRIBLE.

The entire family drama and saas bahu saga had gathered impetus with the legendaries  produced by Balaji Telefilms;Kyunki Saans Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi and Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki. Not that this genre didn’t exist before, but  the launch of these 2 shows around the same time at a prime-time slot forced  everybody to watch it, as other shows were way too unbearable, I guess. The industry mistook this no-other-option theory as the only-correct-option-theory. As a result of which even after a decade, family dramas and saas-bahu sagas top the TRP chart.  No, not because they are good but simply because every single channel and production house came up with the same stuff. So, the audiences’ selected the less horrible.

In 2009, Yash Raj films’ much discussed television stint with 5 new shows turned out to be a failed stunt. They did raise some eyebrows but all of them were in the direction of universal questions; ‘What’ and ‘Why’. The technical aspects of these shows; cinematography, editing etc was too good for television standards but with content-less storyline it had to meet the fate it eventually did.

 In the early 2000’s shows like Love Story, Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahi, Remix, Happy Go Lucky, Special Squad, Sanjivani , Saara Aakash  had started off very well. They were totally content driven but later they too lost track. However, I’d say these shows were better.

There was one show which not only matched the standards of old school but raised them to another level, yes I’m talking about Sarabhai v/s Sarabhai. It was the best show on Indian Television, so far.

What makes all the old shows and Sarabhai v/s Sarabhai stand out are its characters.  Your story moves ahead only when a character reacts in a particular way. Now, just because every character in these memorable shows had a finely detailed characteristic sketch that was way too different than the other characters, the show always had exciting storylines.

The shows rocking TRP charts today have more or less the same storyline which is highly unrealistic. Firstly, every show has a huge family which resides in a mansion(understatement). For some unknown reasons, the female characters are always dressed up in flashy outfits which 3kg makeup(not exaggerating). Another striking observation;no one seems to be employed. Yes, all the characters are at home all the time. The audience has to assume that they have a family business and every member of the family is a businessman, but no one goes to work.

Marathi T.V has had some awesome shows like ‘Abhaalmaya’ , ‘Shriyut Gangadhar Tipre’ and ‘Avantika’ . The situation now is the same in Marathi T.V industry as well, infact it is far worse. Daily soaps rock the charts here, as well. However once in a while they do come up with good shows like, ‘Eka Lagnachi Dusri Goshta’. They’ve basically started aping Hindi T.V industry.

Ohh, how can I forget the music channels. Gone are those days when we had talented VJ's like Cyrus Broacha, Malaika Arora etc. Who is the last nice VJ you remember? In fact do they have VJ's today? No, they don't. How will they? When music channels have come up with daily soap type shows , where do you expect VJ's to show up? And the reason is- 'Back then , songs weren't available online . Now that today everyone has access to music online who will watch music shows? Well, well..well, what about COKE STUDIO? If you come up with a nice music shows instead of unbearable reality shows and daily soaps, music lovers will watch your channel. No one, ever wanted to see MTV and Channel V in the GEC list.

However,the new trend   which most definitely needs a reality check  is ‘reality television’. What the hell are they doing?  Roadies was fine till season 4, after that it was a podium for fame hungry struggling actors who screamed, fought, abused and did a lot of unmentionable things just for the heck of appearing on T.V.. Later shows like, Bigg Boss, Is Jungle se Mujhe bachao etc  served as  a podium for established failed actors who again screamt, fought, abused and did a lot of other unmentionable things, for the sake of creating more drama in the name of TRP’s. This is how it works, they ask audiences to vote which is never  taken into consideration while deciding the winner of the show. Infact,the one who creates more drama is the one who isn’t eliminated. So, all the contestants fake it. How is it reality television then?

Reality Talent shows like Indian Idol, DID opened doors to other talent reality shows on the same lines of dancing and singing.Though the winner of these shows is based on audience votes, every show has 3 judges.What is the significance of these judges would be an explorative thesis the way, there is also a set pattern for judges. One judge will be someone who has some knowledge of the talent(singing/dancing), the second one should have no knowledge of the talent and should make a fool of oneself for the sake of creating unwanted drama and the 3rd one should not be a fluent hindi speaker. Channels have come up with the junior version of the several shows, for children, in the name of ‘Junior ABC/XYZ’. 

What  surprises me , are the parents who bring their little children to participate in these reality shows.  Every single child, too wants to appear on T.V.  I wonder when these children go to school. We have so many so called child celebrities, that I wouldn’t be surprised ,if just  like other shows , one day there is a  'BIGG BOSS JUNIOR'. Shows like these, accelerate the ‘Extinction of Innocence’ process.

Not to forget  the forced comedy shows. ‘Tarak Mehta ka ulta Chasma’ had started off with a bang  but later it too lost its track. ‘Comedy nights with kapil’ has the highest TRP today in the non fiction category and a lot of people seem to like it, but again it is also forced comedy. Some Punches are really good but on a whole, no. It is a show which invites people on stage who are classified as not normal  by the self proclaimed  behaviour setters of society and made fun of based on their physicality. Now, obviously the channel pays them to make fool of themselves. But how evil is it to propagate any message around physicality. And if the audiences are liking any such show that demeans people then we seriously need to get a reality check. Moreover,  we all know how witty and talented #KapilSharma is. He is capable of doing much better. So, are we lacking at funny content too, to finally take aid at poking fun at FAT, BALD, BLACK, SHORT, GAY  people?

In the comedy genre no one has come near Marathi shows like, ‘Fu Bai Fu’ and ‘Comedy express’. If there can be content here why not on Hindi television?

Let us look at it this way,  most Masala movies aren’t working these days .The audiences are getting more inclined towards meaningful cinema. Hence, we cannnot blame the audience. Because, if  there has been such a massive shift in cinema viewership then the same is definitely possible in the television industry.  With the availability of You Tube and other  online production companies , the urban/educated audience  is no more watching  any of the T.V  shows.

If it continues this way,soon, someday even the rural/uneducated audience because of whom the shows bask in glory of good TRP’s will shift their focus, too.  When this audience too will shift to online forces , television will be extinct.

The viewer has the capability to change the entire industry dynamics. So, be very careful as to what you watch .

Just like our initial films inspired by Hollywood flicks,  which eventually triggered some original concepts and  raised the standard of Indian film industry, I do have some hope from ‘24’ (a new television series  going on air in 4th oct.2013), even if it is a Hollywood show adaptation. 

The reason why Hollywood shows are good is because they already know how many episodes they are going to make. They go on air with a set content. 

In India the content is stretched and modified after the show goes on air. Sarabhai v/s Sarabhai was episodic and was a weekly show, which is why they had  time to think, revise and  pen  down the storyline of each episode. If we come up with several shows like these either weekly or with a specific number of episodes and a set pattern, I’m sure the Indian Television  will get their audience back , like never before.

It is only when we demand content we will get one.  If there can be a change in cinema , there definitely can be one in television.  So, choose what you watch.


  1. nice piece.. u hv covered almost everything n i agree wid most of the things u sd.. bt i think u missed out on tv shows for children.. dat wud hv made it complete.. or wud u like to hv a diff blog on dat :)

    1. Yes, I didn't mention children shows because that is entirely another issue. For children, today, I feel bad. They have no nice cartoons to watch. Cartoon shows like Doraemon, Ninja Hatori and Shinchan correspond to the standard of daily soaps in our Television. When i was small, we used to watch Scooby dooby doo, Tom and jerry, Road Runner, flintstone,Duck tales,Mermaid, Powerpuff of girls, Johnnny Bravo, Popoye etc. Now there's nothing of that style. These days children don't even step down to play. All they want to do is play Video games.
      It will be another post itself.
      Thank you so much for writing to me.

  2. Very nicely written. I agree with all the points that u have mentioned and yes u are also correct that there are no such nice cartoons as of now to watch....

  3. Hi, Really great effort. Everyone must read this article. Thanks for sharing.

  4. I hope you will keep in submitting new articles or blog posts & thank you for sharing your great experience among us.

  5. Blogging is the new poetry. I find it wonderful and amazing in many ways.