Indian TV: Going round in circles


(Posted on 6 October 2006)


Ever so often, the television industry in India laments the paucity of good scriptwriters in the country. Is that why so many of the shows currently on air seem to be going round in circles, beating around the same hackneyed bush?

Or is it the creative brains at the production houses and channels, who, supposedly with their finger on the pulse of the watching public, that are responsible for the lack of originality in so many soaps? With the exception of a few, (and these honorable few seem to be all on Zee currently) too many serials are fast falling in the 'predictable' category.

Just last week, this column pointed out the similar tracks followed by Thodi Si Zameen Thoda Sa Aasman and Dulhann, both treading a path set by Koshish Ek Asha some years ago.

Will Ekta take responsibility for her meandering soaps...?

But it is the long running Balaji shows that seem to be copying tracks taken earlier by those from the same production house.

Accidents, miraculous resurrections, second wives, the suffering first wife... Ask any avid follower of the K soaps and you will realise that the sense of deja vu is hitting with a greater frequency than before. Particularly in the last few weeks.

If the Balaji creative head takes a personal interest in the tracks of her shows, will she also take responsibility for her meandering soaps that may still be getting the eyeballs, but are miles away from the earlier engaging stories she had the nation hooked on.

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Getting feverish

News channels this week got into a fever over the outbreak of dengue in the capital and other metros. Over breakfast or dinner, the channels have been painting a grim picture of the scenario outside the AIIMS hospital in New Delhi slums in Santa Cruz in Mumbai and elsewhere. On air, they have also been decrying the administration's apathy and castigating it for blaming the media for creating a 'dengue panic'. In the absence of absolute statistics however, all we have are speculative estimates of the exact number that's been afflicted by the disease. With a slightly better coordination between the authorities and the media the picture could have been better for the viewers.


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Jhalak ... so far, so good

Despite my initial bias against Sony's latest celeb talent hunt, I continue to enjoy Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa, if only for the remarkable performances put up each time by the participants, now down to four. The idea of having the choreographer perform in sync with the celeb has turned out a winner, and the teams have been coming up with innovative ideas to beat each other. One could only wish to shower similar praise on Nach Baliye's second season. There's nothing that's wrong with the show, except that it's too much like the first and everyone has had enough of the first helping. It will still get the eyeballs from an entertainment and celebrity starved audience, but the lustre is clearly lacking.

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While the rest of Zee's new shows seem to be heading in the right direction, the only mis-timed one appears to be Johny Ala Re. With so much original rib-tickling stuff available just a hop across at Star One's The Great Indian Laughter Challenge that culminated last Friday, Johny's often tired humour may not raise the requisite laughs. TGILC (again, another original format) lived up to its standard even in its second season, breaking the jinx that accompanies many sequels on Indian TV. With its champions now gearing to host their own show from next week and permeating The Great Indian Comedy Show as well, Star One might just be the one to laugh all the way to the bank.

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Satire, at its best

Zee Marathi's Ghadlay Bighadlay (it's happened, it's messed up) continues to charm with its unique brand of political and social satire. The daily half hour capsules, now over two years old, are still fresh with their folk approach and well timed anecdotes. If only some of the national channels would think of adapting a similar format. It would work wonders, in place of drab news coverage, 24 by 7.

Zee Marathi has also successfully incorporated the Sa Re Ga Ma Pa format into Marathi getting Pallavi Joshi (who disappeared from mainstream shows) to anchor it. The talent, the astute judges and a fair ranking system that the original Sa Re... had are also in evidence, although it still hasn't succumbed to the on-air fights that the original had its share of. For those who can latch on to the language, this is a show to watch weeknights.

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Couch potato tip of the week - Times Now will soon launch ace economist Swaminathan Aiyar in his own show, Swami Talks. If the guy hosts as well as he writes, the show should be something to look forward to.

(The views expressed here are those of the author and indiantelevision.com need not necessarily subscribe to the same)

 
 
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