Fiction shows in the Hindi GEC space have come a long way from sticking to their usual tried and tested content. Channels today are experimenting with a variety of genres. An emerging trend is the rise of crime-based shows today. Shows such as ‘Savdhaan India’ on Life Ok, ‘Gumrah’ on Channel V, ‘Crime Patrol’ on Sony Entertainment Television and the recently launched ‘Shaitaan’ on Colors are clear indicators of the growing popularity of this genre among the television viewing population.
This genre has been around for quite some time now, however, there has been a recent upsurge of crime-based fiction shows which are inspired by real-life crime stories. Though such shows make for an interesting watch, sometimes they have also been deemed controversial due to the nature of the content that is depicted.
This brings forth the question on what this genre is actually doing for television viewers.
Are the crime-based shows glamorising crime?
Unlike content that pertains to other genres such as family drama, comedy and so on, which have never been believed to influence people in a negative way, crime based shows have always raised questions on how much is too much and when should one stop.
Anil Cheriyedath, Business Director, Maxus felt that certain shows are glamorising crime through their over-the-top depiction of events and added, “Earlier, such shows used to be limited only to the weekend time slot. They have been further extended to weekdays, resulting in higher exposure compared to before.”
On the contrary, PM Balakrishna, COO, Allied Media said that crime shows are not propagating crime. “Even though such shows might be based on real-life incidents, the motivation factor of such shows cannot be questioned. It is important to realise that the viewers today have evolved and are much more intelligent than their previous counterparts,” he maintained.
According to Balakrishna, such shows spread the message that crime doesn’t pay. At the end of the day what is of significance is how the audience interprets these shows and the consumption pattern of the audience. Viewers watch such shows for the entertainment or the information factor, and if these factors are leveraged, there is nothing wrong.
Crafting programming content
One important aspect that needs to be kept in mind is the way the programming content is being crafted. The visual representation plays a significant part here and is crucial to the flow of the story, but it should be done with sensitivity. Sometimes such shows are watched by children and in some cases might prove disturbing for them.
Elaborating on the same, Balakrishna remarked, “The intensity of the violence depicted should be toned down since television is different from other medium such as movies. Hence, a sense of responsibility must be maintained when dealing with such programming content. If something is important for the storyline, it is acceptable, but violence per se shouldn’t be used to push a programme and used as a strategy.”
Balakrishna also shared that the numbers clearly indicate the fascination of the audience towards this genre. “Shows such as ‘CID’ have always enjoyed a high popularity among its viewers,” he added.
Slightly deviating from the above thoughts, Cheriyedath believes that though these shows have been appearing in various channels, none of them can reach beyond a certain level. According to him, many such shows have moved from the Hindi GEC space to different news channels as well, which are clear indicators of the fact that such shows have very limited viewership. Also, the genre has observed low ROI compared to the shows in other genres.
Hence, it could be concluded that though channels are foraying into the crime genre, these shows are still on the receiving end of mixed reactions from the industry. Though, on one the hand, it presents the audiences with a selection of content which is different from the usual ‘saas-bahu’ saga, it also raises certain issues that also do not have any definitive answers. Also, crime is a popular genre not only on TV, but also when it comes to books. Only time will tell what the future holds for this genre, but for now it would be safe to assume that the advent of ‘reality based crime shows’ has clearly begun.