Seema Mohapatra, Regional Director, South Asia, BBC Worldwide recalls seven magic moments of the Indian television industry.
Asian Games in 1982: Colour TVs were introduced in India and TV became an all-India phenomenon. The Indian audience got a glimpse of the colourful world with the Asian Games, which were coincidentally held in New Delhi. The Prudential World Cup 1983 was the next big thing to move TV into the mass space. When Appu and Kapil Dev lifted the World Cup trophy, the entire nation cheered the team on TV.
Ramayana/ Mahabharata: The Ramayana and Mahabharata were amongst the first few major television series produced. These serials created history with unprecedented viewership and the lead characters, TV sets being worshipped.
The World this Week: Prannoy Roy’s ‘The World This Week’ was the only India-based programme which looked out at the rest of the world, though it was quite late in the night, people tuned in to get his view of the world. Of course by this time, global news channels such as BBC World had started getting the world to India.
The advent of choice: 24-hour choices came in 1991. With the liberalisation of the broadcasting industry, the first flush of satellite channels started beaming. Star Network introduced MTV, Star Plus, Star Movies, BBC and Prime Sports in the country.
The real stars of TV: Advertising created an impact on TV. Ad men created household names and countrywide-fame like Lalitaji, the Liril girl, Onida Devil... they continue to do so with the most recent one being the ZooZoos. In fact, the start of brand advocacy and product placement started with Lalitaji getting woven into TV serials.
Kaun Banega Crorepati: Nau Baj Gaye Kya? – TRPs for the first season went through the roof with people glued to their TV screens. Created history with the biggest movie star in India coming to the small screen, which later became a trend; high prize money changed the rules of the game and Star Plus became an undisputed leader in the genre at that time.
Prince Charles and Lady Diana’s wedding: It was then referred to as the ‘wedding of the century’ with an estimated global audience of 750 million. With television sets just beginning to enter Indian homes, the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer in 1981 created equal excitement in India. It brought royalty to the common man’s TV screen and even 30 years later, when the next big ‘Royal Wedding’ of Prince William and Kate Middleton was covered widely in the Indian media, there was a comparison with the original wedding.
(Seema Mohapatra, Regional Director, South Asia, BBC Worldwide.)