Posts Tagged ‘Mahabharat’

Present Day-Today. It is the best of times; it is the worst of times.

In the days of 80’s, life was simple. Almost at a standstill, as compared to today. Middle class was into jobs which released them early to enjoy evenings with family. Fathers usually returned from offices by dusk and after a relaxing evening tuning in to the radio over cups of tea and Indian snacks, discussing events at office and daily life, politics and cricket with neighbors. This changed with the TV arriving in India. In those times the evening news was sacred and so were the cricket matches. For those who came in later, we had just one channel- the Govt sponsored- Doordarshan.

Serials and pieces were made to entertain with values and there was no craze for TRPs and ads. It was the time for Buniyaad, Hum Log, Ramayan, Chitrahaar and programmes in the early 90’s like Bharat ek Khoj, Malgudi Days, Waagle ki duniya, Neev etc. Those serials employed the best talents available, who are present day big shots and the production was usually Govt. funded and hence were based on values and culture. Home entertainment was in its infancy. This went a step further when ZEE and Sony put their foot on the door and took it to another level in the 90’s. Scenes of Bush bombarding Iraq and Kurds running for their lives while oil wells burned in Kuwait was there right in our drawing rooms. CNN and BBC were introduced to us while Mudroch’s Star prepared for the real assault.

With the economy being liberated by Shri P.V Narshima Rao , markets opened up to bring in more corporate jobs, which demanded people to put in longer hours at offices, and hence TV lost out on sizeable office going male viewers towards the late 90’s. The Colour Television with remote control was available for longer hour, especially the whole afternoon for gossip weary females at home. (Moreover, with more money coming into the house, maids were employed who saw to the house hold work.) Corporates, Brands, channels and production houses saw a brilliant opportunity for a virgin market. DD held fort till the mid decade, but finally when the revenues dipped, so did the quality and content. Serials like The Jungle Book, Stone Boy, Mahabharat, Chandrakanta, etc still had some value on content. But then the economy changed, and so did the TV sector. Newer talents were encouraged to try out TV as actors, script writers, and production units. Experimental serials like Shanti, A Mouthful of Sky, Swabhimaan were launched in the latter half of the decade and became instantaneous hits, thus paving way for independent production houses like Balaji Telefilms to make a mark.

The advertisement sector, which usually rested on its laurels by making just a couple of ads for a client in its countable list of limited clients, now had switched gears.  Entry of Pepsi and Coca Cola, started the newest cold war. “Nothing Official about it”, but ads and campaigns changed every quarter and bought in more revenue for the high TRP rated serials. Newer genres like horror, science–fiction, musicals, comedy and game shows were experimented with success. News still was not sold, had quality and was unbiased to some extent.

It was during this time the Gen X were growing up and completing their studies in the numerous upcoming Engineering schools and MBA Colleges. 2000 saw IT recruitments weaned away these people from home away to far off metros and made the remote control even more un-fought for. The limited viewers didn’t have any different occupation to engage them and watched TV serials to wile off time. They were literally helpless, option less and had nothing else to do. It was during this time they were bombarded with repeat noon slots of yester night’s still foaming soap, which had no repeat value and lots of ads.  Stories with content were somehow dying away. Soaps like Kyun Ki.. Kasauti..Kusum, KumKum, etc didn’t seem to have any ending. In show subtle advertisement started being in your face. Wardrobe and jewelry were sponsored by branded houses. An hour slot had 20-25 minutes for ad breaks. But who cared, when one has captive audience gone dumb, and the producers gone deaf with the rustle of big fat cheques.  During the later 2000’s it became worse. No doubt newer sector and avenues for employment opened up providing plethora of jobs to numerous cross sections of talents related to TV and motion production.

But the new story was based on Women’s Liberty. Strong women characters were especially developed. Vamps were a special breed and always on move with thousand schemes, which invariably failed before the good woman. This was lapped up by the office going but home early women folks and the bechari option less housewives, probably because it provided wings to their unrealized aspiration values. In these winners of good female modern corporate bosses yet managing homes nicely characters, people identified with their hidden unconscious aspirations. They too wanted to be liberated from the confines of their homes and breach the glass ceiling in their climb to the top of the corporate ladder. They too aspired unconsciously to succeed in managing office and Home with aplomb.

The hitherto vanished males returned in groups to catch up foreign productions and unrelated one off episodes of serials like- Friends, Sienfield, BattleStar Galactia, The Office, Lost, Star Trek, etc. Fan clubs were formed to take out time to follow F1 n EPL. Mujhe is Jungle se Bachao, Bigg Boss, Roadies, Emotional Atyachaar, etc too tasted differential level of success, as they tried to touch the rough side of life behind the cosmetic smiles. People, who now are so busy in life, wanted instant gratification- Test cricket gave way to T20. Consumerism predicted kids and teenage students and youth loved to see their stars and their façade ripped off in public. Sting Ops and scams were cooked up and exposed. Old diluted wine was re packaged and re repackaged and presented with new platter. It was no longer the days of creativity and content value, but salability of the entire package. Economics decided art. The simple theory of demand and supply ran riot, while content was thrown out of the window, and advertisers called the shots. Many even copied foreign concepts, like Kaun banega Crorepati( Who wants to be a Millionaire), Big Boss ( British Big Brother), A minute to win it, Biggest Losers. Interestingly, concepts like Twilight were Indianized in Pyaar Kii Yeh Ek Kahaani and Princess Diary in Dekha Ek Khwaab and bought the true idea of art without borders to rural India too. The well researched production houses now started making serials based on strong regional accent which have predominately Jat, Rajasthani, Gujrati flavor, to reign in their fan base.

The industry was growing at a rapid speed, with few real gems making the successful transition from serials to big screen and back successfully. SRK , Vidya Balan, Sekhar Suman, Gracy Singh, Rajiv Khandelwal, P Desai are a few names. Huge sums were spent on lavish sets, wardrobe, costume, jewellary, production and of course songs and dance in serials. Reality shows, became a launch pad for movie promotion and earned extra value and money. Present day, TV serves total commercial interest only. Its an Industry in its own right, with its own audience and fan base. The Pay was good as was the revenue and fame generated. TV had made hitherto unknown faces into household names. Babies were named after TV Series characters.

Today the most awaited and salable product of Sony Set Max is IPL. Nothing sells like cricket in India. Moolah raked in 2 months is instant and enormous. Followed by Dance India Dance and many reality Song Shows.

Everything seems to be in a fast forward mode today. Teenagers & males don’t agree to have watched soaps, and prefer to spend time on video and computer games. Females discuss soaps on Trains and busses. Everyone moans that serials are a waste of time and yet TRPs and Revenue tell a different tale. People still watch. Even spirituality is available at a flick of a button. To each his own Choice. Every channel has its followers. No Doubt Baba Ramdev is a brand & Brahma Kumaris a growing cult. People even watch India TV for comic Relief. Such is the state of affairs. But did we have time to sit back & look at the scenario from a different angle?

It wouldn’t be out place to say that we are the Idiots and are being governed by the box. News channels produce and sensationalize news to motivate and create hysteria while the soap ladies decide the latest fashion trends and lifestyle of the middle class. With blogging and social networking sites bearing proof that the modern audiences demand changes fast and is getting complex. Media and TV controls us and we are unconscious of it. May be because we are being led into believing what we are seeing.  Where to draw the line is the tough part but when it comes to the Indian Television Industry which is now a proper Industry is tough to stop. The blitzkrieg of new channels and their content is highly questionable. This is a time that we need to decide whether we want to see what we get or we choose wisely and caution the media to show what should be aired. The question needs to be answered fast. Are you listening?