In order to increase the viewership, some showmakers and channels are coming up with time-bound and meaningful drama. Sangeeta Yadav speaks with industry experts about this biggest transformation on the small screen thus far
With the saas-bahu saga playing out on most Hindi GECs, there are some channels and production houses who are now focusing on a quality entertainment experience for viewers. Be it the adaptation of cult novel Gunahon Ka Devta into a limited episode serial titled Ek Tha Chander Ek Thi Sudha, or bringing the popular Turkey show Feriha, the showmakers are innovating content for the small screen.
After making hit shows like Chidiya Ghar and Lapataganj, Ashwini Dheer will be launching Ek Tha Chander Ek Thi Sudha on Life OK from September 21. It is a classic love story adapted from Dharmveer Bharti’s bestseller book Gunahon Ka Devta. The 20-episode series will feature actors Rahil Azzam and Umang Jain in lead. What makes this show good is that it is an attempt to stay true to the book.
“Ninety per cent of the series is based on the book. We had no intention to change anything yet there are a couple of scenes where we have used locomotive steam engines and shot in Kashmir to add beautiful visuals. When I came to Mumbai in 1990s, I met Bhartiji and asked him if he would like to make a film on this? And if I make a film on this, would you like to script it? He said: ‘When I wrote the book for the first time, I experienced a lot of pain. Now I’ll not be able to bear that pain again.’ If you see this book the first line ‘Iss kitab ko likhna mere liye waisa he hai jaisa ki peedha ke samay sachche mann se prarthna karna’ (For me, writing this book is like one pleads before God when one’s in agony). Nobody else can experience the pain which he went through while writing this book. The aim of making this show is to stay as close to the book and reach out to the people,” Dheer says.
The reason why the director chose this book was because the novel had fascinated him when he read it for the first time in Class XI. He tells you that he read the novel many times and each time he cried.
“This was the first book from Indian literature that I read and from then on got hooked on to reading books. If there is somebody out there who has not been in love, will definitely fall in love after reading it. Every boy will want to be a Chander and want a Sudha in his life. Every girl will want to be like Sudha and have a Chander,” he says.
When Dheer approached Pushpa Bharti (Dharamveer Bharti’s wife) to buy the rights of the book, she had some terms and conditions.
“When we brought the rights from Bharti, she strictly told us that if you want to make a TV show on this book, you have to be as true to the book as possible and not tamper with the storyline. After finishing the series, we went to her and showed her each episode to get the final approval from her. Everybody was scared. We put in a lot of money and hard work if she refused, we would be in great trouble. But she loved it,” Dheer tells you.
Another channel Zindagi, which started the trend of finite and realistic drama on Indian television with Pakistani shows, is taking big leap and will be airing a Turkish show — Feriha a popular TV show in Turkey. After the success of the show, it was dubbed in various languages including Hindi and aired in 14 countries.
“Feriha is a story of a beautiful young girl who comes from a lower middle class family. She is very aspirational, wants to achieve great heights and support her family. You maybe culturally different, speak different languages and dress differently but the beauty lies in the emotional connect and keeps the viewers attention,” Priyanka Datta, Business Head, Zindagi says.
When the channel brought the rights of the show, they had to search for the voice-overs that would fit perfectly to the characters.
“Translating into Hindi has been tedious. We had to audition to find the right voices for each character. We had to keep in mind the personality of the characters and if the voice is compatible and their tone modulation is right or not,” Priyanka says adding that the show goes on air from September 15.
The channel also went into making a reality show— Shukriya made in India. They are also planning to produce some home grown quality finite shows.
“We started non-fiction show which is in a very different space and grain, away from anything that you see on TV today. Strangely enough, you’ll see all sorts of genres and emotions like violence, crime, thriller, romance, family drama but the biggest emotion of all is the gratitude which is not explored at all on Indian TV. We are working on producing some really good Indian made content that will be aired by the end of this year,” Priyanka tells you.
Then there are popular sitcoms like Tarak Mehta Ka Ulta Chashma which is adapted from a Gujarati show. Even mythological shows like Ashoka and Bharat Ka Veer Putra…Maharana Pratap, are all about quality entertainment that one can watch with the family.
“The problem is that daily soap in India goes on forever. The content on TV is going from bad to worse. The depiction of characters and situations is exaggerated. Showmakers are not making TV serials, they are making projects. TV has become the medium of earning money through entertainment. Instead of that, showmakers should focus on making good shows. Today, viewers don’t have much choice so they watch the usual serials. But given good shows, they will prefer to watch them,” Dheer asserts.
But Priyanka tells you that the era of daily soap exists because the viewers want it.
“In the next few years, all sorts of content will be aired. There will be space for everything. There was a time when people enjoyed shows like Nukkad, Hum Log, Astitva, Hasratein, etc. They had a good storyline and realistic drama which matched the viewer’s sensibilities. When expansion happened, people started enjoying saas-bahu saga. There is a set audience that wants to consume content like this. I don’t think this should change because that is something a set of audience is enjoying. As long as the audiences keep enjoying that, it will keep happening.” Priyanka concludes.
(The article was published in The Pioneer Newspaper on September 13, 2015. http://www.dailypioneer.com/show-time/meaningful-shows.html#).