Indian television offers the viewer an addictive concoction of reality shows, game shows and even saas-bahu sagas, satisfying the appetite of the average Indian viewer. We spend minutes praying for a contestant on Desi Girl or biting our nails wondering what could happen to Suguna after badi jiji’s’ exit in Balika Vadhu. Plots thicken in soap operas, movie stars take over as game show hosts and the bar is raised with each new season of a reality show. But can this alone be enough?
Is it unreasonable to expect more of entertainment-based television? Is there room for contemporary, social issues? Can we take a break from these tried and tested formulae? Or is it just plain risky business to venture into content that is bereft of tears and melodrama?
While you ponder over these questions, Channel [V] has dared to enter the great unknown with a new format of entertainment. Tread with care, everyone as a fiction-based sitcom has hit the small screen as of yesterday. Based on five college kids who share an apartment, their joys, fears, clothes and toothpaste, the sitcom Roomies, tries to deliver on two main intentions — drama and humour. Character sketches have been created keeping the two in mind.
Adi is a complete mamma’s boy. Always has a love story playing out in his head. Adi is the one who keeps the group grounded and ensures that matters don’t go haywire. And of course, he is the quintessential prankster! Jessi is the typical flirt and is frivolous, confused, and athletic; wears his attitude on his sleeve. Nuts is a drama queen but organised and practical. She is highly competitive. Monica anyone?
Zizou is married to his television. Seems to be the central character, from the looks of it. Mimi is care-free and idealistic. She is uber fashionable and joins the team all the way from the US.
The five can be seen, over the next 13 episodes, one hour a week, spending
time arguing, joking, sharing dating dilemmas and career conflicts. Call it a reflection of India’s youth or a just another form of entertainment, the show has already got hundreds queuing up on its Facebook page to comment, vote and ‘like’ the concept.
“The concept of college kids living together is not unheard of. So why
not make a series based on that? The youth are going to love it,” says Prem Kamath, Head of Programming, Channel [V]. The idea was given wings when a study from Channel [V] threw up some interesting hints on what made the Indian youth tick.
After pioneering hit reality shows like Dare2Date and Lovenet, the team behind the fiction-based series hopes to make another killing with Roomies. “If the first season goes well, we may roll out Season 2 very soon,” adds Prem, optimistically.
Didn’t we happily lap up every episode of Friends with unquestionable commitment? We even continue to make time in between busy schedules for the re-runs. What is it about the 10-part, American series that has every urban teenager and young adult naming themselves after the characters? We have shamelessly fought over who should get to be Ross and who should get to say Phoebe’s funny one-liners. What made Chandler, Joey, Ross, Monica, Rachel and Phoebe so easily identifiable? Definitely not the New York set-up or the fact that they could spend all day chatting up in a coffee shop.
Friends confidently blurred the differences between Indian and American social mindsets by simply presenting what we aspired for in the form of six 30-year olds and their lifestyle choices. Roomies offers you just that with five college kids and their ‘devil-may-care’ attitude.
While you may be tempted to draw more parallels between the US-based show and Roomies, it is fair to say that the latter stands out from other shows that is currently available on air, with it’s singular treatment and style. Whether the formula will receive the love and commitment shown on the former, is yet to be seen. But this sure looks like the start of a new era of Indian television, served hot with a generous sprinkle of humour and drama! (Though don’t hold your breath!)