Harish Jharia

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29 September 2011

Indian TV: Soap Operas, Serials and Programs Are Manufactured and Not Created

Yes, the Indian TV programs inclusive of soap operas, reality shows and news bulletins are commercially manufactured rather than being created based on intellect, art, culture and technology. The makers of these programs are not even following the common principles of direction, editing and cinematography. These programs are made simply by applying the cheap formulas and mindless spices (masalas) for attracting crowd on the channels and eventually inflating the controversial TRPs.  Nevertheless, it does not appear that these manufactured programs are really attracting viewers and keeping them attached to the TVs.  Had it been so, then people like me and all of my friends and relatives would not have disliked them and kept changing the channels in an unending search for a better show. I have hardly any doubts about my readers having similar impression and feelings about the Indian TV shows.

Let us discuss the formulas and spices that are being used by Indian TV channels for inflating TRP rankings and earning maximum revenues out of sponsorship. On observing Indian TV shows keenly, we may list out the following formulas or spices that are being used for the success of the shows:

  1. Woman and glamor for attracting viewership: Women have always been used by the media for glamorizing their products and eventually inflating sales of the same. Makers of TV commercials and soap operas are using women like commodities just for portraying them as showpieces for attracting viewers and enhancing their TRP ratings. We find as many as 6 to 8 main women characters in each serials spanning from a 5 year girl to women of the status of grandma. Nevertheless, the grandmas would look like young women because the roles are played by women in her thirties. Moreover, all the women are decorated with latest, trendiest, colorful and heavy outfits. All these TV serial women are shown with blow-dried groomed hair and heavy makeup 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.It is just not possible for us to remember the names of these women because of their thick crowd on the screen. We find these glamorous characters in each and every frame of the serials. Male characters are rarely shown on the screen and if shown they would be merely flashing emotions like smile, fear, surprise, gloom and sometimes found crying. Male characters are rarely given any dialogue to narrate and never shown shouting on anybody and expressing anger because they are not allowed by the director to dominate anywhere in the scenes.
  2. Wealth and power for luring viewers: There are stories of wealthy and powerful families portrayed in Indian TV serials basically for taking advantage of the wishful thinking of the Indian middle class  viewers. We, as TV viewer usually identify ourselves with the characters of the stories shown on our TVs and live the lives lived by them in the serials. Thereby, we subconsciously enjoy the aristocratic lives filled with big bungalows, cars, foreign trips, star hotels, romancing, dancing in night clubs, throwing big parties, sipping foreign liquors, firing guns and quenching all other desires that we dare not disclose to our families and friends, just by merely watching all that being done by the characters in TV serials.
    The makers of TV serials take advantage of these instincts of the middle class Indian viewers and sell their products stuffed with illusions of materializing day dreams, adventures and secret desires of the masses.
  3. Broken marriages and repeated incidents of failures for adding tragedy:
    Tragedy is a part of the lives of the people in developing countries; because, their feelings are incomplete without the sorrows of adversities of their hard lives filled with struggle. The makers of TV serials use to show sad incidents and unsuccessful romantic stories of human lives for taking advantage of such pessimistic nature of the middle class masses.
    I watched all the recent episodes of a serial ‘Parichay’ being shown on Colors. The makers of the serial showed repeated failure of relations between the two main characters Anand and Siddhi. They first showed three consecutive cancellations of the marriage proposals between them spanning across about 5 episodes. Eventually, the story took an unexpected rude turn when Anand died in a terrorists’ bomb blast. The story of Anand and Siddhi got an abrupt short closure that looked quite unprofessional of the story teller and deceptive with the viewer’s angle.
  4. Unsolved mysteries for endless stories: It is an accepted norm followed in story telling that one or more problems or mysteries are portrayed in stories and solutions to them are suggested in the climaxes of the same. But in Indian TV serials it is followed in an ‘other way round’ way. The problems and mysteries are kept unsolved throughout the serial.  As such the mysteries are never solved and the serial continues endlessly keeping the viewer confuses all along.
  5. Repeated video clips for minimizing shootings and increasing profits: I have observed that in each episode the serial is shown only about 15% to 20% and the remaining period of the episode is filled with commercial breaks repeated display of various video clips. There are ‘coming up’ clips that are the replays of the shots that are going to be shown in subsequent parts.  There are ‘recaps’ that are the replays of the shots shown in the previous part. Then there are ‘tomorrow…’ that are the replays of the clips that are going to be shown in the tomorrows’ show.
    This policy is followed by the serial makers for keeping the viewer glued to the TV and at the same time reducing the volume of the end product delivered to the TV viewers in each episode. This also saves the huge expenditure on 85% shooting the serial that would have been incurred if the episode was shown in full length.
  6. Excessive number of main characters for keeping the viewers confused: We find dozens of characters in each episodes because the makers of these shows always keep the viewers confused. They fill the serial with all the formulas and spices in order to keep the TRP rating at higher levels.
  7. Violence, sex and cruelty are used as appetizers: With the recent spurt of violence, sex and cruelty shown in TV serials the TV sector has found diversified crowd of viewers. The TRP might also have increased slightly. But an equal number of viewers might have gone away from the viewer’s count.  Nevertheless, in spite of the threat of exposure of families and children to the adult contents, the TV channels are using these indecent spices as appetizers for selling their products.


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