Crime Sells

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Posted: 13 April 2005 at 7:56am | IP Logged r/feature_crime.php
ex and crime seems to be the perfect recipe for success on the telly in the 22nd century!

'CID': Fighting crime!

Be it fiction or non-fiction, crime seems to be topmost on everyone's mind. Are serials like Rihhaee, CID, Special Squad, influenced by non-fiction shows like, Crime File, Sansani, Chargesheet, Crime Reporter that are aired on news channels, or is it vice versa?

Why is crime as a genre gaining importance on popular television???

"This is primarily because it sells, but it has to be done properly," says Satyam Tripathi, director of Special Squad, adding, "Every detail is taken care of. We experiment all possibilities before hitting on the right one --- like which way the blood will flow if struck from a particular direction etc."

Dramatisation seems to be the most popular medium to attract the attention of the audience --- it is nothing like taking the audiences to the location of the crime and to show how it was committed.

'Special Squad': Inspired by real crimes

On a popular news channel, recently, the murder of a housewife was recreated and presented through the eyes of her young daughter, who had discovered her body. Here is a situation were the thin line between fiction and non-fiction gets blurred.

"Dramatisation is a tool that we employ necessarily when we don't have enough footage to show how the crime was committed," says Anuradha Prasad, producer of shows like Rihhaee, Red Alert and Sansani. "Crime shows do well because peple want to see social issues being highlighted, this is the reason why our helplines are always jammed, " she adds.

Fiction is not far behind in cashing in on the craze. Sony's Rihhaee, concentrates on crimes against women, with cases of rape, dowry, alcohol abuse, sexual harassment at workplace and others. In one of the episodes of Rihhaee,popular

telly actress Rucha Gujrati will play a victim of sexual abuse. Casting for the lead or the host in any crime show is essential in order to sensitively handle these issues. The social welfare body which is shown in this serial is mistaken by many viewers to be real. This is the extent of fictionalisation of a crime. Rihhaee even has a helpline number that is flooded with calls everyday! Imagine harassed housewives calling a fictional organization for help!

So do crime shows help build TRPs?

Sansani : Ghoonghat Baba, caught in the act!

Along with other producers, Anuradha begs to differ on this issue, " TRPs are justified by many other things, like the time band, the slot given to the show etc. It is juvenile to think that just because its a criem based show it will sell," she points out.

Reporting a crime nowadays is not enough, one has to package it is such a way that it is different from the rest --- every channel thus, has to add some sizzle to it that will help differentiate one show from the other. For example, Zee News' daily programme, Crime Reporter, has a helpline segment where viewers can call up and talk about incidents. In this way, the programme itself gets matter for its episodes. In the same way, Zee News' weekly programme, Crime File, talks about the criminals who are wanted by the police in their segment, Talaash Hain.

Drawn from real life situations, fictional shows try to make their content as true as possible. Take B P Singh's CID, for example. He makes his serials as true as possible, forensically. "Although we don't use real life incidents, we do a lot of research as far as the legalities are concerned. We don't want to misguide the audience," says Yash Patnaik, Supervising Producer, CID.

'Rihhaee': Giving women an opportunity to speak up

Another BAG production, Sansani , has created a sensation exposing a widespread racket of fake tantriks in the country. The show did not dramatise any of the happenings, but used a hidden camera set up to record the crimes committed by the 'Godmen' in the name of religion. The footage in one of the episodes showed how a hapless woman was continuously slapped and hit by various members of the family to get rid of the aatma that had taken refuge in her body!

It was really an eye opener! Sansani has garnered about 23 per cent market share already!

Even in the broad genre of crime, most television channels have come up with great innovations --- Aaj Tak's Jurm has a segment, Insaaf Kab Tak, which talks about a major incident of crime that has long been awaiting justice.
Sahara Samay Rashtriya has a different take on the subject, with Chargesheet. Even Star News has Insaaf Ka Tarazu, that deals with the legal aspects of crime. "We try to answer pertinent questions regarding law," says Gopal Kaushik, producer of special shows on the channel. Although in this show, dramatization is not done, but the presence of the two anchors playing out the lawyers from the two sides makes the show very interesting.

What is interesting is the fact that irrespective of the content, and where the programme is aired, crime-based shows are increasingly getting popular among viewers. Is this a trend that is here to stay? Only time will say….

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