Even those who don’t care for Indian television know that Sony’s Pehredar Piya Ki — a show about the love story of a teenage girl and a 10-year-old boy — was recently pulled off air. Reason: the audience has no time, nor tolerance for bad content anymore. So is our television industry finally on the brink of change? We think not!
TV Serials: Then & Now
Back in the 80s and 90s, there were but a few TV channels and fewer serials.
Still, they managed to form a connect with the audience with their simple, honest scripts.
Remember Nukkad, Dekh Bhai Dekh, Saans, Hum Paanch and Malgudi Days? On a warm Sunday morning, you could hear the soundtrack of Mahabharata playing in every house.
Today, we have innumerable channels and serials, but so little to be proud of.
Megha Gupta, 33, a piano teacher based out of Gurgaon, agrees, “The quantity killed the quality. I remember when cable TV came to India in the 90s – there were only a few shows, but they had a lot to offer. Now, the choices have increased many folds, but the urge to watch them is no more.”
Rise of the ‘K Serials’
Hindi television in the 21st century took a rather unfortunate turn thanks to Ekta Kapoor, the mega mind behind the famous ‘K serials.’
These shows were characterised by a K in their names (Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki, etc) and an over-dramatic saas bahu theme.
All of them had the same plot and similar characters, yet their initial success led to the production of many more baseless dramas. And the trend continues till date.
As Girish Jain, 30, tells us, “These TV soaps are aired six days a week – day and night – and have entered a monotonous phase. I wish they had some sort of a message or excitement, and not just melodrama.”
Well Girish, we hear you. Hindi serials these days go down the same beaten path of melodrama, family feuds and conspiracies.
One of the leading serials actually showed the protagonist turn into a housefly because the writers ran out of ideas to pull TRPs!
Change Is Possible
The current audience for Hindi TV soaps is women in the age group of 35 to 60 — a mix of working professionals and housewives. They seem to like the run-of-the-mill dramas, and who can blame them? There’s nothing better on offer.
But TV channels need to consider the millennial generation — men and women in their 20s and early 30s. Are they going to consume the same content? Nope.
They’re already clued in to top quality content thanks to Netflix India and Amazon Prime. If Indian television offers creativity, they will embrace it with open arms.
And we’ve seen that happen with good Indian shows like Rensil D’Silva’s 24 starring Anil Kapoor. Gen Y’ers loved it!
Banker Bharti Mitra, 27, tells us, “I wish our TV serials had a pre-planned storyline and they stuck to it. But the fact remains that, if the demands of the viewers don’t change, the television industry just won’t bother to change.”
Now that Bollywood has been accepted in its new avatar with bold, intelligent cinema, why can’t TV follow suit? Here’s hoping that millennials ask for more – and get more – from Indian television in the years to come.
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