Kyunki TV Shows, Bhi Kabhi Ache The! : What went wrong? And it isn't just Ekta Kapoor
Are you one of those who religiously watches GOT, Breaking bad, F.R.I.E.N.D.S., etc. and don’t have the slightest trace of what is happening in Indian Television? Why is that we don’t have at least one show of our own, airing now on TV, we could be proud-off? Don't just blame it on Ekta Kapoor, if not her there would be someone else doing the same.
Sideline some of the gems like 'Hum Log', 'Buniyaad', 'Office Office', 'Malgudi Days' (generally all from the past) and you are left with a huge pile of stupidity in the name of sitcoms and daily soaps. Despite the popularity of foreign serials in India and Stellar Attempts like Amitabh Bachan’s “Yudh” and Anil Kapoor’s “24” (we are considering only TV shows and not web-serieses) which was very good, going by the standards of Indian TV but nothing went further beyond that. Why can't we have the same quality of TV serials as US or UK. Why can't we have a "HIMYM", a "Suits", a "Breaking Bad" or anything even headed in that direction? Indian films are gradually becoming more realistic and of high standards but unfortunately the same is not the case with the small screen.
Unlike American or British television series, Indian TV shows are made in regional languages, so obviously they don't have a global audience. Having just 10 or 24 episodes per year wouldn't produce enough revenue that is required for making those shows. And nobody buys DVDs of Indian shows. They have to produce on an average 200+ episodes a year. This is the crux of almost all the problems. They get more time slot than required: On an average they get 150 minutes in a week rather than 30-60 minutes and hence starts the 'crap-filling', they consume so much time for as simple a scene as walking down the steps, let alone a revelation of a truth which might take days (if not weeks), The long shots to capture everyone’s facial expression present in the scene are unnecessary, irritating and ridiculous.
Writing good content obviously takes time and hard work. Quality is almost always sacrificed in front of quantity. The writing is adjusted according to budget issues, for ex: if one of the sets is damaged and the weekly budget has been used up, then the episode is changed at the last minute to be picturised on a different set, whether it makes sense in terms of the larger story or not.
Generally, the serials are made with a complete story before hand with predetermined twists and definite end but same is not the case with Indian TV serials which change the story in accordance with the fluctuating TRPs. A TV serial will go on every week for years to come until the TRPs are below par after which it'll be replaced by another. The system of "Seasons" is absent here.
The T.V. industry in general has no respect for people like the writers/directors/cinematographers/editors etc. The financiers have all the power, if you don't do something the way they want it then you're out. DPs and editors have to follow a specific formula in their work, absolutely no room for experimentation, if you go off the book don't expect to continue working on that show. Similarly writers are expected to write 'dhamakedar dialogues' only, the plotlines have been handed down by the bosses and you just have to fill in the blanks. Also, dont expect to get credit for your work all the time, be thankful that you're getting a salary in the first place.
A huge number of the actors hired are not hired for their acting abilities but whether they fit the 'look'. Now of course this is prevalent all over the world, but it seems to be heightened in the indian tv world. My friend took 3 weeks of acting classes before starting shooting, he was modelling before that. This is the case with most new leads, acting experience in theatre and all doesn't count for shit. They also literally dont give a fuck about their roles, my friend playing a historical character started reading a book on said character but never finished it, and he played the freaking lead!
The core audience for these shows have a very different attitude from you or me. For most of them watching the shows is about routine, like morning shower and evening puja. Hit the right buttons and they'll come back every day. There are a bunch of super fans who are incredibly invested in the actors/characters but all of that investment is based on how they look and what they're wearing, not a single hoot is given about their acting ability. Similarly the audience is so used to mediocrity and homogeneity on TV that anything out of the ordinary is automatically disliked just for having the audacity to stand out, there are a bunch of shows that tried to do something fresh and gave into audience pressure to become the same old show with the same old tired plots.
Meet the author
Cinephile and an aspiring Storyteller. Sharing my views and experiences (before and after watching a Movie) in this Space. Believes in Alfred Hitchcoc's principle of three things that can make a Great Movie - The Script ,The Script and The Script.
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10 July 2019