Has Indian Television Become A Glorified Recycling Bin?

Posted by Suchismita Tripathy in Culture-Vulture
March 1, 2017

It all started when my mother switched on an all-time favourite, much-hyped broadcasting channel one afternoon and I decided to sit through her session of so-called daily “entertainment”.

A teaser followed the regular dose of weird antics spoon fed to countless naïve house-wives and grand-mothers who are anxious to see whether the mother in-law wins or the daughter in-law while the sister in law makes ridiculous comments demeaning her own gender.

And the came, a flawless rip-off of the teaser of Game of Thrones season 5.

Was it a necessary element in the story that explained the story-line? No.

Did the so called “fans” realise it? No.

Did it make any sense at all? No.

Do I need to name the show? No.

Other than devastated GoT fans all over India, embarrassed that an iconic plotline of the series was misused, a bunch of hilarious tweets and Youtube rants (that was one way the creative directors brought their serial into focus), there was absolutely nothing that made a difference.

That was followed by the soap Udaan. The show swooped from being about a struggling athlete and student with a possible bright future to being a whining melodrama of a girl suffering the torment of a “dictator” chief of a village who is obsessed with bandhua majdoor (debt-bonded slaves). For the whole of 15 years of the time leap, the dictator “chief” then enslaves his own son because he is “evil”… (ehhh… Maketh no sense!)

Do they not know this is 2017? Are they stuck in some kind of ridiculous time warp?

While we have the classic evil side-characters, we also have main characters who are turning evil, yeah, big twist ahead.

So the latest attraction called Swabhiman (self-respect) is about a mother who struggles to raise her daughters to be toppers in IIMs only to beg people to marry them, because irony.

So the daughter decided to seek revenge from her in-laws because her mother’s swabhiman got hurt in the process. Did she have no idea her mother had no money? Did she not get employed even after topping IIM? Recession, I suppose. But she will definitely get married to the same guy because… TRP and sanskar.

I still have no idea how further twisted the whole story will get and have absolutely no interest in finding out either.

Another show, I recently came across that caught my eye was Dil Se Dil Tak which was being advertised rather aggressively everywhere on the channel. After a few episodes it struck me that the story was a perfect rip-off of the movie Chori Chori Chupke Chupke. The film was originally a sad mockery at surrogacy (the story still haunts me).

But the TV show version has promise. If tastefully made and properly executed, it can reveal a lot of social issues in India. If not, it can be added to the list of sad attempts like Kasam (Karz and Om shanti om), Shakti (Social melodrama about a girl belonging to the community of transgenders) and Sasural Simar Ka (I guess I shouldn’t even start).

Light At The End Of The TV

But that’s not the end to Indian TV channels. Star Plus recently decided to change the complete format of the shows and the change was strangely refreshing. The regulars stayed the same but the series like Beyhad, Mere Angne Me, P.O.W Bandi Yudh Ke and Ishqbaaz have shown refreshing outlooks.

However, the only show that came up in the light after a long time was Bhabhiji Ghar Par Hain which quickly rose to fame due to it’s weird characters and quirky comedy.

Sab TV was once famous for it’s comedy timing and content, but has now taken a backseat as the quality of comedy keeps going down, Also, a lot of amazing shows were pulled off air and the classics like Tarak Mehta Ka Ulta Chashma have now become a sad drag filled with repetitive forced antics and overtly innocent adolescents trying to act funny.

Not to mention the show Icchapyari Nagin which is a parody of the supernatural show Nagin which preceded Nagin 2, another sad failure. Except for reality music and dance competition shows and the Kapil Sharma Show, there is absolutely nothing decent to watch anymore.

The only channel in this whole mess that has continued to experiment and diversify the content on television is the lesser known Zindagi TV.

It started airing controversial yet realistic Pakistani TV shows, and now has ranged from English, Turkish to South Korean (We are not going to blame them for the bad dubbing, only thankful they didn’t remove the OSTs) has now given us a glimmer of hope that someday Indian shows will shine as much as English, South Korean and Taiwanese already have.