Most of us would be spending at least a minimum of 10 hours a week in front of television for news, sports, daily soaps, reality shows etc. Let us compare the TV of yesterday and TV of today (Not technology wise, but quality of content wise)
During the early 80’s when the TV wave began, it was more for broadcasting news and other programs that shall help the people like agri based, news reels etc. Then came the cricket matches, songs from old & news films (Chitrahaar on Sunday mornings, Oliyum Oliyum (Sound&Light) in Tamil). There used to be the weekend movies 1-Hindi and 1-regional language. The TV shows started coming in later with Nukkad, Buniyad, Fauji, Circus, Lifeline, Waghle ki Duniya etc which was entertaining and could also connect with people. Some of the other famous serials include Vijay Anand’s Tehkikat, Byomkesh Bakshi, Chandrakanta and who can forget the epics Ramayana, Mahabharata and Tipu Sultan. Malgudi Days used to a house-hold affair for most of the people with the haunting music and cartoons by R.K.Laxman (It was directed by Shankar Nag and his brother Anant Nag used to act in most of them – They were Kannada actors)
There used to be thought provoking shows like Surabhi, Jaldi-Jaldi, Crossword etc. For the kids, you had Giant Robot and a few cartoons. The songs on National Integration had quite a fan following.
These shows gave us stars like Shah Rukh Khan, Renuka Shahane, Simran Bagga (she used to anchor Superhit Muqabula), Siddharth Basu etc
Since there were 1-2 channels (DD National & DD-Metro), there were no wars for remote. The entire family would get around the TV to watch the same.
Post opening the economy, there was an invasion of foreign channels with the likes of Star TV, Sony TV, MTV and the likes. Initially they found the going tough against DD, but with newer formats of programming, using celebrities and ability to screen block-buster movies, the started eating into DD’s share. DD failed to take on the competition and hence is in a bad shape today.
These newer channels churn out soaps like they are a factory. There are production houses which have fascination for serials with “K” to serials where there are certain characters which keep crying. The scenario at the regional level was also at par with the national level. I strongly feel that the “NEW AGE TV” is also a reason for issues in family. If some one wants to see a serial, then its news for others, while its cartoon for the kids.
Look at the channels that one possibly can watch today. With newer technologies from Cable TV, Set Top Boxes to DTH’s the number of channels could be easily between 175-225. Channels are there for Cartoon, News, Sports, Movies, General, Regional, Religion, Home Shopping, Travel, Living & Wellness, Fashion, Real Estate (yes there is a channel called Realty TV) etc.
After making viewers passive participants in shows (like watching a talk show/ sitcom), the TV channels started making them active participants. This I presume started with “Kaun Banega Crorepati”, the desi version of “Who wants to become a millionare”. Participants need to call and qualify to play with Big B the show. It surely did make the channel and Big B crorepati. So did many of the advertisers and sponsor companies go. It also spawned many versions as KBC 2 & KBC 3. Not to be left behind, there were many look alikes like Jeeto Chappad Phadke, Sawal 10 Crore ka etc. These realty shows were replicated in regional channels albeit less success. This also marked the entry of film superstars to the smaller versions.
These reality TV shows then progressed into Dance Shows (the former Indian cricket and football captain too shake a leg in these), Singing shows, Big Brother types to woo the audience. Though there is a market for these, these were found to be getting a bit over board.
The reality TV has gone to the extent that the so called “Reality Queen” is planning to get married on a TV show. She compares herself with Sita Devi, saying if Sita can have a swayamvar, why can’t she? There was 12500 applications received for the show is another news. No harm in trying I suppose. Pehle TV ke samne Biwi, abhi TV dekho milegi biwi.
At the same rate, there could be shows covering child birth, child going to school, life of a house maid, divorce coverage etc.
The biggest of all has been the IPL. More than cricket the coverage has been on brands, cheerleaders, promoting tourism and celebrities. Then from New Year to Gandhi Jayanti, there are block buster movies in various channels. On Gandhi Jayanti movies depicting violence, liquor and all those principle which Gandhi fought for would get drowned in these movies.
When I compare the TV shows of the pre-liberalized era and post-liberalization, I opine that TV has become a burden. Kids practice WWF and Jetixaction moves resulting in injury. There is not even a program rating system like Western countries nor do most TV sets have a parental lock.
There are still some talk shows and certain programs which try to add the “knowledge value” and yes the entertainment factor is also there. But the final word shall be that “TV has made most of us into a couch potato”. The ability to see the news has also to an extent reduced our ability to analyse it since we are flooded with news.
I would like to hear from the readers of this write-up their opinion on TV shows, and what they would like to see on TV.