Getting bolder & better

Small screen review

Getting bolder & better

If comedy was 2013’s showstopper, the year 2014, riding on a rash of telly talent shows, looks poised to take off with a ‘reality’ check! The year 2013 would actually have been monopolised by the talent template that continued to make much song and dance of reality shows, or to the staple of sob operas from the famed Ekta stable and elsewhere.

First, an overview of trends from 2013’s staple small-screen diet of tear-jerkers, the family ‘ragas’ and the historical sagas. The year saw the small stage further consolidating its status as the ‘run’ bhoomi or ‘rerun’ bhoomi not only for epic episodes, but also family dramas that ran from one season to another. In that sense, 2013 was a ‘leap year’ for the Czarina driving the couch potato’s Big Fat Indian Tear Shedding, Ekta Kapoor. For, the script of Ekta’s hugely popular serial Bade Achhe Lagte Hain (Sony) took a nine-year leap! 

Among the serials ruling the ratings, rib-tickler Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah’s (SAB) continuing popular run only proved that in 2013 the comic genre went all out to be taken seriously in the TVT wars. Detective serial CID (Sony), that has enjoyed a 15-year run and remained in the top 10, further proved to be a shot in the arm for the non-tearjerker soap space. As for the Queen of the lachrymose-triggering K-serials, Ekta, it was more a year of courting controversies than of her memorable characters courting screen romance. Ekta’s epic moment was marred when her magnum-opus Jodhaa Akbar (Zee TV) ran into trouble with the Sri Rajput Karni Sena. Other epics too put up a show, with Mahabharat, Bharat Ka Veer Putra — Maharana Pratap etc going on air, but mythology was also conquered by comedy, cine celebs and the talent template.

This year, the talent template literally looked a lot like child’s play! For, the new ‘kids’ on the reality block were many a reality show for little ones, be it India’s Best Draamebaaz (Zee), Indian Idol Junior (Sony) or Junior Masterchef Swaad Ke Ustaad (Star Plus). The ‘old wine in new bottle’ format saw staples like Kaun Banega Crorepati, Big Boss, Nach Baliye, Jhalak Dikhla Jaa etc, tweaking their formats a tad to trick viewers into thinking they were getting something bigger, better and bolder. 

KBC (Sony), with Amitabh Bachchan taking centre stage as host yet again, upped the prize money to Rs 7 crore, changed its signature tune and made other cosmetic changes. Bigg Boss 7 (Colors) went mega ‘n’ madder with host Salman Khan’s “Jannat ka wow aur Jahannum ka awo”. That Bigg Boss 7 almost stole the show in 2013 had plenty to do with the fact that it came riding on such a high controversy quotient that it ‘raised the bar’ for reality TV. The comic genre did for Indian television in 2013 what the reality template had been doing in previous seasons: It came to rule the post-9 pm slot and turned it into the new primetime. For, the new weekend laughathon Comedy Nights with Kapil (Colors) not only made the 10 pm slot the new primetime, but also catapulted comedian Kapil Sharma into the new hero of humour not-so-sublime. 

A late entrant into Season 2013, leading Bollywood director Karan Johar’s celeb chat show that put in a cameo as late as December, Koffee with Karan Season 4 made up in terms of eyeballs what it may have missed out in terms of timing by virtue of being a tail-ender.If comedy shows were the hottest new platforms for promos of upcoming flicks, with celeb chat sessions incorporated into the format of Comedy Nights with Kapil, chat shows like Koffee with Karan were the hottest new stage for spilling the beans on controversies or clandestine courtships between Bollywood hotties. 

That Bollywood got bigger on small screen was evident from the advent of ace director-producer Sanjay Leela Bhansali on Indian television with the much-hyped magnum opus Saraswati-chandra (Star Plus). Actor Anil Kapoor too made a small-screen debut this season with 24 (Colors). And now, Season 2014 is all set to kickstart with re-runs of the reality and talent template. From Khatron Ke Khiladi Season 5, 10 Ka Dum Season 3, Dance India Dance Li’l Masters Season 3, India’s Dancing Superstar Season 7, to Aamir’s talk show Satyamev Jayate Season 2 or cookery show Masterchef India Season 4, 2014 will see the curtains rising on new editions of popular reality shows. End of 2013 and 2014 opening also see the start of a host of soaps like Main Naa Bhoolungi and Rang Rasiya (Sony), Beintehaa (Colors), Ishq Kills and Daag (Star Plus), Hatim (Life Ok), among others.

So, it remains to be seen if 2014 will give the couch potato merely recycled old wine in new bottle. 

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