If it's prime time, then you can get set for some visual poetry in your living rooms, via mythologicals/ costume capers — majestic palaces, harsh battlefields, gods and goddesses in elaborate costumes and hair dos, and a storyline that many of us have grown up on, with some very basic modifications! In the 80s streets in urban India used to wear a deserted look on Sundays when Doordarshan used to telecast serials like 'Mahabharat' and 'Ramayana'. Even now, things are no different on small screen — that magical charm of costume drama still lingers.
That explains why GECs are dishing out soaps like 'Ramayan', 'Devon Ke Dev... Mahadev', 'Jai Jai Jai Bajrangbali' and forthcoming 'Mahabharat' for the audiences. Even in the recent past, shows like 'Mahima Shani Dev Ki', 'Krishna', 'Dwarkadheesh — Bhagwan Shri Krishna', 'Ramayan' (2008) managed to strike a connect with viewers.
Why are these period soaps suddenly so popular? Nikhil Sinha, producer, says, "People always connect to characters who have been a part of their lives. And these epics are a vital part of our Indian culture." How has advancement in technology enhanced mythological soaps? Does that attract the audience too? "Technological advancements have made 'Devon Ke Dev... Mahadev' look contemporary and has generated interest among young audiences too," shares Sinha.
Do mythological shows really help GECs get more TRPs? Sukesh Motwani
, fiction head of a GEC says, "A mythological/period show offers stories with many layers and it's also an interesting narration/retelling of our rich and diverse culture. We can recreate an epic without adding extra element of drama. Its originality is what attracts the audience."
Of course, a historical/ mythological show means a lot of research goes into the scripting. "Earlier shows used to portray important nuggets from the epic. Now, we add emotional moments in the show because our audiences love the emotional connect with the screen characters. So, this makes us to do an intensive research. Besides, mythological/period flicks mean lots of investments. The sets depict a particular era in the past, lavish costumes, jewellery and locations have to look authentic to strike an element of connectivity. And, these shows are targeted towards all age-groups and that is why they are popular even now," says Sukesh.
And how do actors who take part in such shows feel? Neha Sargam
shares, "I never thought that I would ever get to play Sita. It came as a pleasant surprise when I was offered the role. I feel blessed." Mohit Raina agrees, "I'm happy that audiences have accepted me as Lord Shiva and the show has become so popular. The show is based on the Shiv-Puran and is authentic."
Considering these costume dramas are garnering above average TRPs, for now this is a formula that's working.