How often do we pause and ponder about industry issues that have a bearing beyond just our rigmaroles? Share insights that can further the common understanding? Or, at the very least, point at things that need to be set right. View Point - an exchange4media platform, will fill this void and become a source of understanding, action and perhaps some inspiration.
A door to “impact” full media plans
S Yesudas, Business Advisor (Director), Initiative Worldwide, Jakarta
There were those Sundays when we would wake up to ‘Ramayana’ and ‘Mahabharata’. Step outside and the streets would be deserted early morning to watch Lord Rama conquer the evil of Ravana. Ladies would offer prayers, shower flowers and sit with folded hands, leaving all early morning chores of the house for later. Sounds like a thing of the distant past, when I was a kid. I grew up along with the television boom and have witnessed it with keen interest.
What followed the mythological era was what I like to call ‘genre hypnotism’ or, in simpler jargon, ‘programme cloning’ on the television screen. A genre that caught the fancy of people and channels became the flavour of the season. As a natural sperm following the eggs, the TV factory started to produce multiple programmes of the same genre. ‘Superhit Muqabla’ brought in the age-old ‘Binaca Sangeet Mala’ from the ears to the eyes. The early ’90s witnessed the influx of the music countdown show genre. Taking over the baton from the mythological dramas was a single man taking you through the entire 100 episodes! The common thing about these genres till that time was the Sunday telecasts that made it distinctive – when the entire family got together to watch the show on Sunday evening. A proliferation of music-based programmes followed on all regional and national channels, with Zee TV launching ‘Philips Top 10’ around 1992. ‘Oye MTV’ which later became ‘BPL Oye’, as well as ‘Ek Se Badhkar Ek’, ‘All The Best’ were a few clones in different attires targeting the same audience in different ways.
To break this musical journey was the bold and the beautiful of the Indian television industry, ‘Tara’. It was the first official soap of its stature with melodrama. A gamut of emotions – happiness, sadness, separation and envy, as well as vindictive women – this soap had it all. Barring the birth-rebirth and 20-year leap cycles, this show was as original and nearly lasted for five successful years was a small step in the giant leap of the TVkind! That was the birth of the tele-soap genre and it was hypnotism in the true sense. However, the clones did not come in much until a few years later in 2000, when ‘Kyunkii Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi’ (KSBKBT) struck the right chords. There were popular fillers always in the background like ‘Banegi Apni Baat’, ‘Hum Paanch’, ‘Antakshri’, cartoon shows, and English-dubbed programming like ‘The Bold and the Beautiful’. All of them hugely popular failed to ignite passion and moolah enough for genre hypnotism to take place.
This is the time when the almost phased out ‘Tara’ gave birth to its biggest clone in the genre of soaps. ‘KSBKBT’ is the biggest example in my theory of ‘genre hypnotism’. Tons of clones of melodramatic soaps were flourishing all over on all channels. They caught the fancy of the Indian middle class like only ‘Ramayana’ had done till date. A rage across the country and especially with the middle class women, around whom all the marketers spin! Then there was no stopping of the multiple inspired, some lifted and some vaguely similar clones. (So what if they were children of the same mother; they are still not siblings, but as good as clones).
No, I have not forgotten ‘KBC’, the BIG B of all reality shows, which marked a simultaneous emergence of the reality show era. Hypnotism is a mild word to state what this show, with its mega stars, created across the country. And this genre hypnotism showed the practicality of the theory in the coming years. Game shows began with some passion but fizzled out soon when none could face the challenge the big star posed.
Somewhere a new entertainment format of news channels saw an emergence too. It was slow and steady and made a place in the time schedule of people.
Reality shows took shape in perfect cloning, with ‘KBC’ flagging them off, followed by the musical reality shows with ‘Sa Re Ga Ma Pa’ finding new bright playback singers. ‘Indian Idol’ took it to a different level altogether. This show brought in interactivity where audiences could choose their favourite singers. And further followed many Idols and ‘Gurukuls’ and ‘Kid Champs’ and many more such mushrooming on all channels alike.
When the nation had had its share of music, the next round of breakthrough programming was achieved by the comedy genre. Another wind of change, the dose of laughter medicine was given to all the TVkind who, like parasites, clung on to the screens and would get off only when the last drop of laughing medicine was injected to them. This was an extension of the reality show format but of a different nature, and made a strong positioning for itself.
Someone thought of innovation, or maybe just saw some shows abroad. But reality shows took the celebrity route to garner distinction and attract eyeballs. And then this was the guru mantra that everyone wanted to follow. From ‘Bigg Boss’ to dance shows and now music shows with the celebs, they’ve got it all.
What will be the next chapter of genre hypnotism in this world of TV entertainment? Can I see it behind my screen? What will be the next song whose tunes everyone would dance to, the next formula for small screen big success?
I wait and so do the mortals of TVkind. What next shall hypnotise us?
(The author works in Marketing Communications, LG Electronics.)