Posted: 09 May 2011 at 11:29pm | IP Logged
OUT OF THE BOX
Prime time shows are trying out unusual concepts in a bid to wow the viewers and grab eyeballs
For those of you who thought zara hatke was a word associated with Bollywood films, think again. Even tellywood's top makers are now following the variety is the spice of daily life mantra in their prime time dailies. So, instead of the usual saasbahu tearjerkers or mushy candyfloss romances, you have shows with protagonists who are different from the run-of-the-mill screen characters we were used to. In Baba Aiso Varr Dhoondo, the protagonist is a young dwarf and the show revolves around her trials and tribulations in her quest for true love. In Krishnaben Khakhrawala the leading lady is a tough woman who rules her home with an iron hand and is also a small-time businesswoman; in Looteri Dulhan the female protagonist marries and dupes older men for a living; Pyaar Kii Yeh Ek Kahaani is about vampires, Gulaal is about a woman with a lucky charm, Gunahon Ka Devta is about a reformed rebel and how far he'll go for love, Phulwa is about a young dacoit and Chhoti Si Zindagi is about young children living in an orphanage.
So, what makes General Entertainment Channels (GEC) try out unusual concepts? Is it just for variety or some sort of creative experiment? "Making a show based on an unusual concept is a risky decision, but it is important to experiment. We try and strike a balance between experimental and regular shows. Sometimes the novelty factor works, sometimes it doesn't. It is important to try four to five concepts every six months," says Saurabh Tewari, programming head fiction of a leading GEC. However, writer-producer Raakesh Paswan, who's producing Baba Aiso Varr Dhoondo, says that he didn't "deliberately" set out to do something different. "I don't attempt different shows to make a point, I prefer to work on a story that appeals to me or touches my heart," says Raakesh. Is it risky, as other showmakers are doing soaps based on predictable formats? "There is no set formula for success, that's why makers churn out shows based on concepts, which have worked in the past. But, I feel one needs to experiment and make some changes," says Raakesh.
Actors who essay the role of the main protagonists in these shows are also taking a professional gamble. If the show doesn't grab the required number of eyeballs, channels pull them off air. So what makes actors take up such shows? "My show is about a widow with magical powers who marries her much younger brother-inlaw. Only if we change the dynamics of what is happening on television can we get different content," says Manasi Parekh Gohil.
"Initially I was sceptical about playing a vampire and making it appear different from the ones we have seen in horror films, but I've been able to make the character appear convincing. As an actor one needs to take up new challenges," says Vivian D'Sena.
"The audience wants something new and we have to cater to popular demand," says producer-writer Asit K Modi.
While show makers are a cautious lot, unwilling to take too many experimental turns, in the end what matters most is how the audience reacts to new concepts. For the hand that holds the remotes calls the shots in the TRPs game.
(Clockwise from top right) Pyaar Kii Yeh Ek Kahaani, Baba Aiso Varr Dhoondo, Krishnaben Khakhrawala and Looteri Dulhan