Small screen got starry, regional and real (2010 in Retrospect)

By Radhika Bhirani, IANS
Saturday, December 18, 2010

NEW DELHI - A host of top Bollywood stars, a fresh set of storylines, a dash of regional India…Hindi entertainment channels became bigger, better and more real in 2010. IANS traces five key trends that ruled the tube this year:

1. Big screen stars: Be it on reality shows or soaps, big names from tinsel town like Amitabh Bachchan, Abhishek Bachchan, John Abraham, Salman Khan and even the reclusive Rani Mukerji graced the small screen either as host or guest.

“A movie star or a celebrity is roped in only if they fit the bill. Of course they come at a high cost, but if they fit in the format, they do help in building the buzz,” Ashvini Yardi, programming head, Colors, told IANS.

While Big B returned as the host of “Kaun Banega Crorepati 2010″ on Sony, his son Abhishek hosted “National Bingo Night” on Colors.

Salman drifted away from Sony to host Colors’ “Bigg Boss 4″, while Priyanka Chopra showed her daredevil side in “Fear Factor - Khatron Ke Khiladi 3″ and Akshay Kumar donned the chef’s hat for “Masterchef India”.

Karan Johar added to the glamour quotient with a new season of his “Koffee With Karan”, chatting up a line-up of stars from tinsel town.

The cherry on top was dancing diva Madhuri Dixit’s comeback with “Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa 4″ as host.

Also, serial scripts gave way to Bollywood stars - among them Rishi Kapoor-Neetu Kapoor, Mallika Sherawat and Ajay Devgn - for in-programme promotion of their films.

2. Real life incidents, characters: Whether a dwarf’s story or a young girl suffering sexual abuse or the reservation issue or honour killings, the small screen was a pot full of stories inspired from real life characters and incidents this year.

“Stories based out of India are a winner on TV these days. I won’t say whether stories based in the rural or urban milieu are working, but TV shows are exploring Indian culture, different places, regions and issues…and this has been one significant trend this time,” said Danish Khan, vice president of Sony TV.

Shows like “Baba Aiso Var Dhoondo”, “Rishton Se Badi…Pratha”, “Armaanon Ka Balidaan - Arakshan”, “Crime Patrol” and “Maano Ya Na Maano” touched upon sensitive real life issues based in two- or three-tier cities of India.

3. No hit formula: If it’s a saas-bahu drama, success is no longer guaranteed! Unlike earlier, there is no winning formula, genre or theme that is being lapped up. Viewers are game for anything and everything that looks fresh and interesting.

“From cop dramas to subtle family dramas, from saas-bahu shows to light shows, from social issues to romance, everything is great for everyone concerned - be it artists, channels or viewers,” says Vivek Bahl, executive creative director, Star India Pvt Ltd.

Saurabh Tiwari, head of programming (Fiction), Imagine TV, added: “Only good stories work these days. No one has a formula.”

Almost all channels believe viewership has become content-driven.

“People are looking for variety. So irrespective of the kind of content, the genre, the star power, people are looking for variety, novelty and quality. They just want good stories,” said Khan.

4. Regional flavour: Rajasthani, Gujarati, Maharashtrian, Bengali or Punjabi - the language, attire, traditions and lifestyle of regional India painted the small screen red.

“Krishnaben Khakarawala”, “Pavitra Rishta” “Gunaaho Ka Devta”, “Apno Ke Liye Geeta Ka Dharmyudh” and “Do Saheliyaan” were testimony to the trend.

“India as a nation is weird. After every few kilometres, you will find a different dialect and culture. It is exciting to explore what’s happening in every culture - the lifestyle, the way of talking, celebrations,” said Khan.

“What TV is doing is exploring the small pockets of the country and bringing them alive for a pan-Indian appeal,” he added.

5. More time for prime time: At one time, channels reserved the best shows for the 9 p.m. prime time slot. But this year, they had quality shows scheduled for tea time. Now some highly watchable programmes start as early as 6 p.m. and go on till 11 p.m.

“A few GEC players extending their evening prime time bands to 6 p.m. and as late as 11.30 p.m. is a very good move for the industry. These launches are symptomatic of a broader change in viewership trends and are an opportunity to grow in the market,” said Tiwari of Imagine TV.

Sanjay Gupta, COO, STAR India, said increasing the number of hours of content has worked in their favour.

“Some shows that were shown during 6 p.m. or 7 p.m. were tagged in early prime time, but even those have become prime time now. Our shows ‘Saath Nibhaana Saathiya’ and ‘Sasuraal Genda Phool’ are doing very well, which proves that viewers are ready to watch good content irrespective of the time slot,” Gupta told IANS.

(Radhika Bhirani can be contacted at

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