This post is dedicated to my friend, and fellow MICAn, ChUcK, for having just gotten into Nautanki TV :) Congrats Bro!
The Indian TV audience has been evolving steadily. This is a fact. Just ask Ekta Kapoor. Personally I think its reached a plateau and the “formula” needs to
be reinvented. There is only so much of Saas-Bahu drama that can be digested, don't you think? Maybe we should go the Obama way and tell the content/creative heads that its time for a change.
Let us examine what comes on the menu.
Saas bahu serials
When cable TV came into India, they did not have much idea what to do in the early days. Initially, they had song and dance shows like Chitrahaar. Then came serials. Then came Ms. Ekta Kapoor, daughter of the erstwhile Jumping Jack of Bollywood movies, and she hit upon the jackpot- in the form of Saas Bahu serials. Now, Ekta means unity, but her saas-bahu serials have actually caused disunity in many families which have been avid watchers of such serials.
Then came quiz shows. These quiz shows, hosted by celebrity actors,would reward participants who could reach the hot seat. Of course, reaching the hot seat by dialling the given numbers was tougher than the tasks that mythological heroes were called upon to perform in the past. These quiz shows in turn were often used to launch new saas bahu serials which followed just after the quiz show.
Now, these channels have hit upon another formula. It is called "reality shows". In these shows,people typically sing and/or dance,and their performances are judged by celebrity judges. After their performance, judges give them marks. A few participants, getting the least marks get
eliminated. Not just the judges, public is also asked to judge the fate of the participants. After the performance, the participants have a message for the audience in which they request the audience to vote for them through SMS.
The presenter of the show takes a sadistic pleasure in announcing which participants are in the danger zone, and then with great fanfare and melodrama that the eliminated participant is thrown out of the contest.
Often, some participants who get poor marks allege foul play and stage a walk out. Not just that, sometimes, one of the celebrity judges also alleges foul play when his favourite participant gets
eliminated, and he too stages a walk out.
Vote through SMS
And there are a huge number of audience who enjoy watching these "reality" shows, but the people who really enjoy it the most are the serial makers and the mobile companies, who roll in megabucks through the millions of SMSes that the public sends to vote for their favourite participants. The revenue thus generated in a matter of hours is easily more than what the sponsors of these serials pour into the coffers of these serial makers.
Getting back to the formula, it seems, the content/ programming departments at all major channels are headed by a bunch of clones. One brave soul decides to venture out and do something original. And it clicks with the audience. What do the rival channels do? Copy it of course. Hey, if its a good idea why let it go to waste just because you didn't think of it first?
The formula basically works like this.
1. Find a show that is a hit. Either on rival channels or even from other countries.
2. Adapt it superficially to suit Indian audiences. My economics Prof called this “apple polishing”.
3. Promote it in other shows and prepare a media glitz for the launch.
4. Get well known faces into it.
5. Broadcast it to the gullible audience who will then ooh & aah over it.
So how does a new channel that is not a news channel launch itself into the already cluttered scene. Simple apply formula and do some borrowing/ stealing from the rival channels programme list. It would go something like this.
1. Take 2 daily soaps. Have fresh faces in one and already familiar faces in the other. Broadcast 5 days a week from Monday to Friday before and during prime time slots. For best results repeat broadcast next day afternoon. Recommend Ekta Kapoor's. For added flavour, celebrity
appearances by actors.
2. Add 1 reality show every 3 months. Must have celebrity judges and/or participants. To
increase viewership, garnish with controversy when public interest is simmering. Recommend using Rakhi Sawant or Rahul Mahajan.
3. Spice it up with a talk/chat show with a host who is not afraid to make an ass of him/herself. B-grade actors-turned-politicians recommended.
4. For the weekends, replace prime-time and afternoon soaps with the latest movies that people are either too lazy to go to the theater to watch, or are waiting for some channel to air it.
5. Alternatively picking up whatever other channels didn't pick up could work.
6. Festive garnishing is theme based. Patriotic movies for Jan 26th and Aug 15th recommended. And no, Deshdrohi doesn't count unless you are a Bhojpuri channel.
7. A major awards ceremony is a must. Even if it is just reruns from the previous years. A fashion show if you can fit it in.
1 to how-many-ever-people-there-are-in-your-family and the dog. Or cat. Or Cow.
Add masala to taste.
And if you think you have a better recipe, or formula please leave a comment to let me know.
And if you think you have a better script, call Balaji Telefilms.