Can television reinvent itself?

Can television reinvent itself?

 Apart from the celebrity talk show with Karan Johar, Lift Kara De, YRF TV put on air four shows, each of which sought to break away from the clutter of the current Indian TV shows — Mahi Way, Seven, Rishta.com and Powder.

Ever since Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi happened, Indian television has mostly believed in treading down the corny road, and therefore it was a refreshing change to have four shows which aimed to be different. As YRF TV Creative Head Ravina Kohli puts it, “Apart from the fact that each show had a strong concept, we also wanted to ensure that we had a good mix of entertainment.” In a marked departure from how the Indian television industry functions, each of these shows was going to run for a season and had bound scripts for 26 episodes before they went on floor.

Some of the directors had not done television before, while others had, like Nupur Asthana, director of the very successful series Hip Hip Hurray. Nupur directed Mahi Way — the story of an overweight girl and how her weight influences her life, outlook and relationships. Although the show did manage to garner some fans, it didn’t quite generate good TRPs. Despite this, it’s the only show out of the YRF lot which will be back with its second season.

For Atul Sabharwal (Powder), it has been a long journey since 2001 when the he thought of making a thriller about the activities of the Narcotics Control Board (NCB). The idea evolved over time as he kept researching on his subject, even as there were several rejections, before he found a producer, who according to him, “was interested in producing it and then producing it the way I had intended in the first place.” Despite shooting with sophisticated equipment at actual locations, the gritty thriller didn’t have earth-shaking TRPs, only a loyal viewership.

Atul was disappointed with the channel’s lack of promoting the serial after the initial episodes, and it’s decision to look “the Indian Idol way!” He thinks that “after this hydrogen bomb called Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi that exploded on Indian TV, we still keep getting shrapnel and particles thrown by it in the atmosphere. I hope that the dust settles soon”, he says.

Rishab Seth (Rishta.com) used to “find it amusing how we are always so objective while advising people about their relationships but seem to have absolutely no clarity when it comes to our own!” Ironies like this had always excited him and this became the foundation for the idea of Rishta.com, a matchmaking bureau — “people who are experts at helping other people find life partners but have very little success with their own personal relationships.”

This show about the eternal human quest to find a perfect life partner never had great TRPs but Rishab was never discouraged. “The idea behind YRF TV was to break the clutter and I think we achieved that with a fair degree of success. Besides, I personally don’t have much faith in the ratings system.” Rishab too has a grudge as far as the channel’s promotion of the shows went. He thinks channel concerns should go beyond TRPs and “the goal should be to educate and evolve with the audience while entertaining them,” he adds.

Undeterred by a somewhat limited response to its first phase, YRF TV is now enthusiastically involved in the production of shows for its second phase of telecast. As Ravina puts it, “We will continue to produce the kind of programming we believe in. Without that, there’s no fun!”

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