Television is a great source of comfort to me. When I have time for TV, it means that I’m at my base state, with enough mindspace to spare from my life, from whatever is occupying my days. Luckily there have been many such days, many such periods where I’ve followed series with great relish, bemoaning the trends in themes and programming, or merely sighing over whatever current ship I’ve been floating on.
Ekta Kapoor, of course, reworked the television landscape to an unrecognisable extent. Balaji Telefilms may have passed its prime but the effects still linger – when the Indian TV industry is in doubt, it still falls back on Kektaisms. She brought in the saas-bahus, she brought in the daily soaps, she turned everything on its head so comprehensively we could see no other way to do it.
What has me excited now is Sony TV and its new batch of programming, because we may be seeing the return (fanfare...) of the weekly show. When was the last time we saw one? I can’t remember watching any after Hotel Kingston on Star One. Many reasons to welcome the trend, of course – once a week means there is a possibility for diverse genres; that the story is treated differently as far as pacing, editing and cliffhangers go; the series is bound to enjoy higher production standards, cater to different audiences and simply BE better because the creative team has more time over the episode they’re presenting. Even in the case of your standard romance or soap-like plotline, hopefully it is possible to create story arcs that can be treated more naturally than they are in daily soaps, and to actually end plots that are wanting to end.
After Indian Idol and the highs of Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahi, Sony TV fell into the most depressing slump. I have of late been appalled by their schedules - back-to-back episodes of their one truly enduring series, CID. The investigative drama is fun but how much of it?! But new things now. Yash Raj Films now has a subsidiary wing creating content for Sony TV to be aired on weekends. Karan Johar starts a new talk show, Lift kara de with (who else but) Shah Rukh Khan and there is a thriller about cops on the drug trail called Powder. Now these two don’t interest me at all. Karan Johar I can leave with pleasure, and although I watched Doordarshan’s Subah with wide-eyed fascination, gritty dark dramas of this sort are not really my thing. However there are two rom-coms, Mahi Way and Rishta.com and, finally, a homegrown fantasy thriller called Seven, a superhero series apparently on the lines of Heroes, which I desperately hope is a hit, if only to inspire more of the sort.
I’m slightly disappointed that Sony, having decided to buck the trend, went with only one content provider to produce all these shows – another monopoly when we need diversity. Also Yash Raj, I have been feeling, has become rather too cynical, too formulaic a player under Aditya Chopra. In spite of the reservations, though, I’m happy with the beginning. If it takes (and it should seeing there’s such a hole in programming over weekends) every channel will follow suit and that means a sea-change all over again. Very exciting.
Oh, I found this title song for DD’s Subah, in case anyone’s feeling nostalgic: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6g0egugUNI