Tuesday, March 27, 2012

From the archives

This was written in Dec, 2008, one of my first articles after I started writing. Was cleaning my drives and made me think of my first writing job....

There was a time when a serial on Doordarshan meant the penultimate glory. Family functions were postponed, meal timings were arranged in such a manner that no one missed any minuscule portion of a serial and television became the nation’s favorite pastime which was both addictive and alluring. From the charming Chitrahaar to the humility personified Hum Log, these reel life entities transcended their boundaries and loomed larger than life. The actors were real and wholesome entertaining was given the pride of place. Buniyaad, Fauji, Shanti, Swabhimaan, Dekh Bhai Dekh and Shriman Shrimati were only some of the serials with which people could identify with, chatter about them at impromptu places and relate to them as if they were an extension of their own life. They moved people with their piquant narration, had them in splits over innocuous humor and moved them with the compulsive play of human emotions. It was truly the golden era of Indian Television.

With the advent of cable television Zee took the reigns from DD becoming its legitimate heir, although it did not do such a holistic job, it did manage an enviable task-that of presenting to people the power of change. Serials like Tara, Banegi Apni Baat and Rishtey not only were path breaking but were also hugely successful in breaking stereotypes. They did not limit themselves to pose questions but also demanded answers. Breaking away from the moulds of propriety and chauvinism they played an instrumental role in the coming of age of Indian Television. With an assorted and assiduous range of soaps like Sailaab, Teacher, Campus and Hip Hip Hurray they succeeded in not only retaining viewers but also in attracting new ones. It was a path breaking era and one that explored hitherto virgin territories with finesse.

Circa 2000, entered Ekta kapoor with a magic wand and with her brought a change which would strip Indian Television of its simplicity and naivety. With Star Plus as home ground, she revolutionized television with her unprecedented success and a blitzkrieg to rival that of films. Garish saris and grotesque facial expressions became the order of the day and men became the weaker sex of the small screen. Kyonki, Kahani, Kahin Kissi Roz, Kahin To Hoga brought in TRP’s and money at an unparalleled rate. While the heroines became saintly and god like, vamps became meaner and more menacing. Idealistic Bahus were virgins, voluble and virtuous, capable of enduring inhuman agonies and anguish with a silly smile. It was a phase when Indian television changed forever.

Currently we are in the fourth stage where an alarming 63 channels jostle for attention, Real life Drama, expletives and abuses are all a part of an actor’s ensemble. There is no clear victor and the poor viewer is bereft of choices. Innovation is dead and formula is in. There is no clear winner today, everyone loses! The best entertainment is provided by 24/7 news channels!