Monday, 11 July 2016

Can our Indian Television attune the Western Suit?

Serials on television is now synonymous to the BIG DRAMA ON SMALL SCREEN. So much so, that we find ourselves gripping and riveting about numerous series on television.

The Indian society has always been a devout adherent of the television serials, be it from the time when people literally used to rush to their homes to watch the mythological series, or even now when we find our mothers and grandmothers enthralled to the archaic babble we are obligated to refer to as the “Indian Television”. From the time of BR Chopra’s Mahabharata, the kind of substance showcased on Indian television at present has become deplorable and contemptible. Although, phrasing it so bluntly, may be erroneous but then again with daily soaps like Sasural Simar Ka, Kumkum Bhagya, Saath Nibhana Saathiya, who have frequently managed to grab overwhelming viewers’ ratings, despite their mediocre and ubiquitous plots and characters, makes one contemplate about the mindset and intellect that the makers of such serials assume from the audiences.

It comes as no surprise that our generation finds itself inclined towards the western shows. With us being an admirer of Sheldon’s quirky dialogues, awestricken when Sherlock unravels the most mind-boggling cases, exultant when Daenerys shuts her antagonists and giggling hard at the inanity of members of the Modern Family, how can we sit through the dreadful sadness, saas bahu narratives and outmoded realities as portrayed by our beloved Indian serials?

We are probably looming towards a moot point where one is forced to ponder upon the actuality of whether we are being pulled away by the English channels or being pushed away by the Hindi ones.

When we endeavour at associating our Indian daily soaps with the Western series, we discover that the former falls short in certain aspects pertaining to the TV series paradigm. A conventional Hindi show follows a daily format and is booked for approximately 52 episodes with no systematic struggle to try something novel. They solely depend on the viewership ratings for survival and are inoculated with a dose of twists and turns recurrently so as to keep the audiences engrossed. Some shows such as Sarabhai VS Sarabhai, Khichdi, Anil Kapoor’s 24 etc., which have graced our TV spaces on many occasions, have always been embraced as an appreciative change from the same old drama and have served as a pleasant break from the quotidian daily soaps.

However, we cannot view Indian TV audiences through the prism of the premium western audiences, but this does not mean that we get affixed with the cliché shows with absolutely no new perspective and exemplary. Our audience has become so affluent with the homogeneity and averageness of the stratum that anything out of the ordinary automatically gets rejected. The crux of all the problems lies in the simple fact that the Indian TV serials have to produce an average of 200+ episodes a year, and as a consequence, quality is almost forfeited in the obscurities of quantity. The writers require a change in their perceptions; they need to gain new acuity. Maybe the actors need to augment their characters by intensifying their roles beyond just reciting their dialogues. But then again, I am just an amateur attempting at amassing my expectations from our Indian television series. I agree that there are substantial differences amongst our culture and the culture of the West, but then Pakistani serials also have an upper hand in terms of depicting unusual stories with utmost elegance.

With the West establishing a remarkable platform for innovative and pioneering adaptations and imaginative sequences and series, our television has a long way to pave before the finite but committed audience gets exhausted.

Written by Chhavi Minhas
“A free spirit, dreamer and admirer of this puzzle called life”

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