Television shows like ‘Modern Family’ and ‘The Big Bang Theory’ are the rage among serial viewers in India but how relatable are they? While we can’t get enough of them and try to identify with many of the characters and scenarios on such shows, are they any kind of representation of our life? With Indian web series becoming popular, many youngsters are questioning the hype around Westernised scripts.
Unlike Indian television shows, web series have found a way to cater to the youth with their realism and relatability. Kshitija Jayanth, who is in between jobs, says she loves shows like ‘Friends’ and ‘How I Met Your Mother’ but doesn’t find them relatable. “I am a huge ‘Friends’ fan; I’m crazy about it and ‘How I Met Your Mother’ as both shows talk about friendship and dating. But no, it’s not about relating to them. The various sitcoms we watch cater to a Western audience. But we are brought up in a kind of culture that has a colonial hangover and we can’t seem to let go of it so they are a part of who we are. On the other hand, the Indian web series that are coming up are shows for the Indian youth.”
Kshitija hasn’t watched too many web series but she likes ‘Pitchers’ and ‘Baked’. “The plot is fresh and the characters are funny,” she says. There are many in urban areas who would sneer at the thought of watching an Indian show but this generalisation is slowly being destroyed. “I know people say things like ‘Oh my god! They are Indian shows’ but I don’t listen to such people. The upcoming web series are really interesting, funny and easy to relate to. We have a major colonial hangover, no matter what, but shows about 20 somethings sitting by a ‘chai patri’, drinking ‘chai’, smoking a cigarette, having an account with the ‘chaiwala’ is something I can understand and relate to easily. As youngsters, we need shows that talk about how it’s okay to be young and broke in Indian cities,” she adds.
Another youngster, Maitri V, who graduated from St Joseph’s College this year, watches shows like ‘The Big Bang Theory’ and ‘House of Cards’ whenever she has the time, and was a bit sceptical about trying Indian web series, but enjoys them now. “I have only watched the first season of ‘Permanent Roommates’. I decided to try it because I wanted to finish my internet pack, which was going to expire that day, and my friend had suggested it. But after the first episode, I was hooked and completed the first season that day,” she says.
But Maitri doesn’t distinguish between television series and web series because she watches everything online.
“The only difference is that web series are legally available on the internet, while I use torrents for everything else. Since every show gets downloaded on the net, it’s better if they were web series,” she says. This fine line between what is legal and what isn’t is another aspect that makes web series popular. And unlike the dramatised soap operas and dramas that are popular on Indian television channels, these, she thinks, are more accurate representations of life.
Right from acting and scripting to editing and the cinematography, everything has improved in these web series.
And they explore concepts that the urban youth can relate to and are otherwise considered taboo. Vivek G says that this understanding, on the part of the creators and producers, of the young audience is something that makes shows like ‘Bang Baaja Baaraat’ appealing.
“It shows how urban relationships are evolving and the chaos and confusion involved in weddings. There is humour and it mocks traditions that otherwise go unchallenged.” With a variety of web series coming up, youngsters find no dearth of choice when it comes to entertainment.