Where is the humor? (Comedy shows drying up on Indian TV)

If you are also not able to find humor in our comedy shows then you are definitely in the category where people are waiting for good and ‘clean’ comedy on Indian television and if you have already find it then please share what I am missing. Oh yes… and if in case you ask me to switch on to latest shows on SAB TV then I agree there are two or three good shows which are worth giving time like Taarak Mehta Ka Oolta Chashmah and recently launched R.K. Laxman Ki Duniya. However all the remaining shows fail to impress even a bit.

Apparently the Indian Television industry was expected to grow over 500 billion by the end of 2011 and currently it has over 500 channels broadcasted. But I still find dearth of substance in our tv shows. For example comedy shows which are my all time favourite are definitely way too below the level of good comedy or sitcom shows. Let us take a look at the journey of Indian television in terms of comedy shows in last 28 years.

Yeh Jo hai Zindagi was India’s first sitcom aired in 1984 on Doordarshan. The show written by comedy writer Sharad Joshi was such a huge hit that even box-office openings in cinemas were affected due to the airing of the show because it aired on Friday nights. Then came the ‘era’ in 1993 of two most widely admired comedy shows ever in the history of Indian television: Dekh Bhai Dekh and Zabaan Sambhalke. I am sure that these two names certainly brings a big smile on everyone’s face and those unforgettable characters like Balraj Diwan (Navin Nischol), Samir Diwan (Shekhar Suman), Gareema (Deven Bhojani), Mohan Bharti (Pankaj Kapoor) and many other became an integral part of our lives. Within two years Doordarshan launched another hilarious comedy Srimaan Srimati in 1995 that gave India one of its favourite characters ‘Dilruba’. Simultaneously Zee TV launched its most popular comedy show till date Hum Paanch in 1995. Another hit show Padosan was launched on DD Metro in 1998. All these have left a legacy behind them and I can’t find any show matching up to their level currently or in these all years.

In modern day classics i can count Office Office easily which was launched in 2001 on SAB TV. This hugely popular and admired sitcom was based on corruption and bribery in public offices. The story revolved around Mussadilal (Bollywood actor Pankaj Kapoor) who was often harshly greeted by the corrupt officials. “Mussadilal” was the favourite character of viewers for a very long period and we remember him fresh as ever even now.

Now coming back to today’s topic of this post “Why comedy shows are drying up on Indian television”? Honestly after all these years finally in 2005 I thought that there is a chance that Indian comedy can get back to track when a new reality comedy show “The Great Indian Laughter Challenge” was launched. The Star One’s laughter show won millions of hearts and before we knew there were four seasons in their kitty. The laughter challenge gave way to all these shows on “Comedy Circus” that are aired on Sony TV regularly. However the quality of the comedians and their so called “punches” has deteriorated immensely. In terms of another blogger whose post I read the other day “the contestants of these shows grew up with time and became big-time perverts”. The reality comedy shows today are nothing but a sign toward the hypocrisy of Indian television that call these laughter shows full of double-meaning jokes family shows.

So what is the exact reason? Are we short of good comedy writers, or we are short of good character artists who can do good comedy or it is just the mindset that is not able to accept some clean and good talent? Tell us your views if you have answer to these questions. 🙂

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Once upon a time…..Nation’s favorite channel “Doordarshan”

Yes, this channel once use to be Nation’s favorite channel….  you’ll be surprised to know that that DD India is broadcast internationally via satellite. It is available in 146 countries worldwide.

Well, Doordarshan has been part of our lives since 15 September 1959, but the regular daily transmission started in 1965 as a part of All India Radio. National telecasts were introduced in 1982. In the same year colour TV was introduced in the Indian market with the live telecast of the1982 Asian Games which were held in Delhi. As on today 90 percent of the Indian population can receive Doordarshan (DD National) programmes through a network of nearly 1,400 terrestrial transmitters.

Let me take this opportunity to ask you a question “When was the last time you switched on Doordarshan” ..Well my answer would have been the same as yours….. ” I don’t remember”. There was an era when Doordarshan had some amazing Serials and some amazing shows. Who can forget  Hum Log (1984) , the voice of Ashok Kumar  and the amazing cast. And and Buniyaad (1986–87), a drama-series that was directed by Ramesh Sippy and Jyoti Sarup. As a kid, i used you always hear people talking about these two serials. Soon it was followed by Nukkad (1986 – 87), staring Dilip Dhawan, Rama Vij, Pavan Malhotra, Sangeeta Naik. Doordarshan not only had a series of some amazing serials, but also had the key India’s favorite show Ramayan (1987–88), written, and directed by Ramanand Sagar. Sunday at 9:30am was prime time.. yes….. It was time for the entire family to switch on their television. The same thing happned with  B. R. Chopra’s Mahabharat (1989–90). You would not believe the streets would be empty once these shows were aired. People used to finish all their work in advance, and be glued to the television. Any my all time favorite serial Surabhi , it was a popular Indian cultural magazine show hosted by Renuka Shahane and Siddharth Kak

Today’s generation might ask, what about musical shows….? Did Doordarshan have such shows in those times….. Well, do you remember  ChitrahaarRangoliEk Se Badkar Ek and Superhit Muqabla. They were a huge hit. Mornings were all about Rangoli and its amazing presentation, simple yet effective. So, we are done with Daily Soups, Mythological shows and Musicals show, so what’s next.  Some of the amazing Crime thrillers like Barrister Vinod (starring Parikshit Sahni), Karamchand (starring Pankaj Kapoor), Aparadhi Kaun, PC 1008 (starring Kanwaljeet), Police File Se, Byomkesh Bakshi (starring Rajit Kapoor), Reporter(Shekhar Suman), Tehkikaat and Janki Jasoos, Suraag (starring Sudesh Berry) we part of Doordarshan’s wide variety of series.

Am i missing something, oh yes, what about kids… did they have a great time watching Doordarshan !!! There were Super Hit Shows that were targeted at children like  Vikram Betaal Malgudi DaysTenali RamaPotli Baba Ki (puppet show), He-Man, Knight Rider, Street Hawk and a horror serial Kile ka Rahasya (1989). Do you recollect the amazing disney cartoons Talespin & Duck Tales. Uncle Scrooge McDuck and his great-nephews and their crazy stories. Did I mention about India’s Original Super Hero – Shaktimaan aka Mukesh Khanna and his enemies Tamraj Kilvish and Dr. Jackal. The dialouge “Andhera Kaayam Rahe” was such a huge hit. No doubt Shaktimaan was one of the most popular and longest-running television series for Indian children on the Doordarshan channel…

I hope that you might be trying to get back to your childhood days and relive those amazing days and the time you’ve spent watching television. Do try to catch some of the shows on YouTube, as they are real classics.

BTW, iDubba is planning to have a VINTAGE section on it’s website. How many of you want it? 🙂

New Genres Being Targeted for Television

The times are changing for Indian Television not just in terms of shows based on particular genres but brand new channels being introduced targeting specific genres and categories like age group etc. It is becoming imperative for the producers and the heads of various channels to bring fresh ideas to survive and create a niche for themselves in this competition scenario. With this new avatar of all the channels the television heads are already trying to transform people’s opinion about regular channels.

Today we will give a short glimpse of channels that have been introduced recently or will be launched with such genres and categories.

Sonic (Nickelodeon) – This channel will be introduced shortly by Viacom18 productions. It is based on action loving generation that targets 13-18 year old teenagers. The channel clearly states three main ideas behind the shows’ theme and they are ‘Thrills’, ‘Guts’ and ‘Glory’.

UTV Action – The channel was launched some time back and airs English action genre movies from Hollywood dubbed in Hindi. Even this idea is new and has gained popularity with specific viewers group. This channel is the ultimate Action destination for any fan!

UTV Stars – “Stars” as the name suggests was launched recently that features shows based on Bollywood only. All the gossips, movie reviews, interviews with celebrities etc are the popular sections of this channel.

History – Introduced in collaboration with Network18. The channel roped in one of the highest paid actors “Salman Khan” for the initial promotion of the channel. It is a masala filled version of documentary and lifestyle genres as it features some really cool shows like “Sliced”, “America: The Story of The US” and “Food Tech“.

India’s audience has evolved in terms of TV and its daily dose of entertainment. Many channels realized this fact and shows for every age group, genre etc are on air!!

So which one are you Tuned into?

Which one is your favourite Indian Soap in prime time slot?

Our today’s blog is short and simple guide for you if you are a fan/addict of Indian soaps that air on prime time. I got this idea from regular fights with my mom over what to watch between 9 and 10 pm daily (weekdays) as that is my favourite time too like many others to hook to television along with dinner. Here is a quick synopsis of 4 top prime time channels that airs some of the best soap series in the same slot.

Let’s take a look at all these shows and what they have to offer its viewers:

Star Plus

Starting from my personal favourite, Star Plus has “Diya aur Baati Hum” that airs at 9pm Monday to Friday. This is one of the new shows that the channel has added to its brigade of some really good shows. It is about ‘Sandhya’ and her husband ‘Sooraj’. Sandhya belongs to a well educated family and she always dreamt of becoming an IPS officer but under strained circumstances after her marriage she lands up in a family where education is banned, especially for the “bahus” of the family. ‘Sooraj’ on the other hand is 10th standard pass out and owns a sweet shop. This story is about Sandhya’s struggle to fulfill her dream and a journey where she finds help from the most unlikely quarter – her husband who can make it possible.

The second show that airs at 9:30pm from Monday to Friday on Star Plus is “Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai”. The concept is very simple yet excites you to watch a heartwarming story of a young couple who discovers love after marriage. The show is about ‘Akshara’ and ‘Naitik’ and their effort as individuals to fit into the marriage and accept each other’s families as their own. This one is something that you can relate easily to your own life.

Colors

Phulwa”, a new show on Colors airs at 9pm from Monday to Friday. The show has started recently but has gained good viewership as it entails a story of a young and sweet girl who loses her innocence at the tender age of 11 in order to fight the injustice created by Thakurs of her village. It is a saga of lost innocence, of shattered dreams and unfulfilled promises all seen through the eyes of spirited eleven year old, who was forced to grow up much faster than her age due to the societal pressure levied on her.

Colors’ 9:30 pm slot has taken over the viewership of all the major channels with “Parichay” that was introduced few months ago. We also featured this show in one of our previous blogs as it has gained a lot of popularity not just among the regular soap fans but with the males and females of age group 25 and above. This show is a massive hit with masses mainly because of the role portrayed by male lead Samir Soni as “Kunal Chopra”, who has lost his interest in life due to his failures and continues to lead an indifferent life.

Sony TV

Sony TV has added two brand new shows in its prime time slot. However instead of usual 9 to 9:30 the first show starts at 8:45pm. The show “Dekha Ek Khwab” is about the lead character Muniya (Priyal Gor), a simple down to earth girl who wishes for her own princess story. Muniya’s dream of turning into a princess has come true, thanks to Rajmata Mrinalini Devi and Maharaj Brijraj Singh. But will her luck stick around for long?

Parvarrish” which airs at 9:30pm from Monday to Friday is a family drama about two sisters – Sweety Ahluwalia and Pinky Ahuja. They compete as rivals to become better parents. Both families have different sets of beliefs and approach to raise their kids. Pinky believes in becoming friend with her children while Sweety believes in becoming a disciplinary mother. The concept of Parvarrish is simple yet attention-grabbing. The positive point is that this show caters to a lager section of audience in respect to age.

Zee TV

Zee TV has not added any new show to this particular prime slot. “Pavitra Rishta” at 9pm is one of the oldest and popular soap series of Zee. This show is about ‘Archana’ and ‘Manav’ and their continuous and what seems to be endless battle to be accepted by their families. The show doesn’t give a kick to a point when all we can see is that almost every character is trying to put Archana and Manav down with constant conspiracies against them including Manav’s own mother.

The 9:30 pm slot has another oldie “Ram Milaye Jodi” which is about ‘Mona’ and ‘Anukalp’ who fell in love and got married in spite of the inevitable and huge cultural differences between their families. It is an interesting bittersweet tale of coming together of two culturally divergent families – both fiercely protective and assertive about their cultural identities. On a larger canvas, the story represents the dire need for tolerance and co-existence in our society as well.

So pick your favourite and tune in every night!!

How shows like Bade Ache Lagte Hain and Parichay can revolutionize Indian soap opera?

Since it’s inception TV soaps are known to target only home-makers, but not any more! With soaps like “Bade Acche Laggte Hain” on Sony and “Parichay” on Colors this might change (and it’s already changing) very soon.

Recently these two soaps have grabbed our eyeballs (yes, we do not watch any other soaps on TV :D). This is what we have observed –

These shows have dared and been successful so far in catering the audience of age group 25+ Males in addition to the usual 35+ Females, which is the usual benchmark for any Indian soap opera show.

My only question– Was this intentional? Did Ekta actually gave this a thought (that she can hack the minds of nomads like us)? Or is this because youngsters like us are not getting anything worth to watch?

Well it will take some time to really understand the true reason behind this. So why am I talking about this today?

Well, I might have never touched this genre but was compelled when my 30 year old married brother mentioned it last night that even he watches these 2 shows on TV every night. I was shocked. Why? Coz like us he hates all other soap operas.

Coincidentally both these shows have been produced under Ekta Kapoor’s banner of Balaji Telefilms, who is undoubtedly the queen of Indian soap operas. “Bade Achhe Laggte hain” which was launched a little earlier than “Parichay”, has Saakshi Tanwar and Ram Kapoor in the main lead. The show has been in lime-light because of the extraordinary storyline where Saakshi who is in her early thirties and Ram who is in his early forties get married for the sake of their families and then the show depicts their struggle to adjust with each other. Also how they both start developing affection for each other. The show entails a hilarious bickering between these two which is the most interesting part to watch as many couples in the same situation will be able to co-relate themselves.

Parichay” was launched in August which has Samir Soni playing the male protagonist as Kunal Chopra, who has lost his interest in life due to his failures and continues to lead an indifferent life. Life takes a major u-turn when he loses his brother in a bomb blast on the day of his wedding and he is forced to marry his deceased brother’s fiancé, Siddhi Kunal Chopra (role played by Keerti Nagpure). The story has been given very typical treatment but the role essayed and portrayed by Samir Soni is what keeps the viewers glued to the show. The show is a major hit and has already beaten some of its competitor shows in the same time slot on other channels.

Both the shows have lead couples with awesome chemistry and that is one of the most compelling reasons for millions of viewers across the country to get hooked to these shows. Either they will create a niche for them and will be one of the few shows that cater to a larger audience. However we also feel that if they continue to be in the same league they will survive otherwise if they introduce the regular drama/ or not required turns then they will also fail with the new created audience just like any other soap opera shows in India.

Are we going to see more of such soaps targeting youth?