A site for soaps
|What started as a one-man forum to discuss Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahin has now evolved into a 30,000-strong online community that is solely devoted to television serials, writes Subha J Rao |
HOOKED ON TO SERIALS A still from Kahiin To Hoga.
It is just half an hour since the credits have rolled on Zee T.V's blockbuster soap Astitva - Ek Prem Kahani
, Star Plus' Kaavyanjali
and Sony's Kkusum
. But, three serial-loving people from across the globe, all coolbies (members who post daily updates) are already at their computers typing in a brief about the day's episode.
This provides the fodder for the 30,000 members of this website (www.india-forums.com
) , to discuss everything from the acting to the storyline to the costumes to hairstyles and the progress of the serial as they envision it.
Started by Vijay Bhatter, who runs Kolkata-based Cyberaxtech, a software development and web solution company, in the initial days of the path-breaking Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahin (
JJKN), this forum has grown by leaps and bounds in the past two years. What attracts its members, ranging from a 12-year-old kid to a software engineer to a chartered accountant to a homemaker, is the no-frills site and the posts which do not cross the limits of decency.
Vijay's enthusiasm to discuss JJKN, which he believed was different, provided the initial momentum. Starting off with daily updates, the forum grew in strength, and added on other serials from across channels, even Pakistani soaps.
"I just felt we had to create a universal discussion board for Indian television. It was fun as, then, there were no forums which allowed people to discuss TV shows," says Vijay. Now, the top shows avidly discussed are Kaisa Yeh Pyaar Hai
(Sony), Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahin
(Sony) and Astitva
The coolbies, viewbies and moderators (all members of the 35-member core development team drawn from India, the US, Canada, the UK, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and the UAE) are all active members who take pride in their work. They have been appointed based on their contributions to the forum and problem-solving as well as leadership skills. They work fast to ensure all obscene posts are censored or deleted. But, the odd case of abuse does occur. The website has an added advantage since the moderators are from different time zones. So, the team works round-the-clock to handle situations.
The site hopes to reach 1,00,000 + members by the end of the year. Since the forum includes people with strong opinions, healthy debates are in. Members vote out actresses and actors from serials (all just online), decide how a story can move ahead, comment on the jumps serials take and the changing actors in long-running soaps. If the story is not going anywhere, budding 'fan fiction' writers keep the forum active with their creativity.
The front page of the website.
"But, no one takes sides," vouches the development team. Though the moderators do step in to smoothen out any online tangles, members are given complete freedom to voice their opinion, provided the language is clean and devoid of personal attacks.
India-forums now also has plans to start the IF Telly Awards, an online event where viewers from across the globe can nominate and vote for their favourite TV stars, shows and people in the TV industry. "We also have another set of Awards planned which will really boost the hard working members," says Srividya Rajesh, Chennai-based global moderator who reviews Astitva...
and Sindoor - tere naam ka
. The site has also caught the fancy of many television stars. Some, like Rajeev 'Sujal' Khandelwal, possibly the lone male with a huge fan following in an industry where women rule the roost, write in occasionally. He recently wrote to the members, most of who are waiting for him to return to Kahiin to Hoga
, that he will not return. "... I hope I manage to live up to your expectations for as long as I work ... " goes his mail.
Now, SaharaOne TV has approached the website for discussing its shows in the forum.
The moderators come from various continents and e-mails and telephone foster this relationship. However, some members have visited each other. Like Minnie and Smisha and Srividya and Sree Lakshmi.
Sree Lakshmi, a software engineer who works with Cisco in the US, is also a site administrator like Vijay. Srividya joined IF sometime last November by accident. "From that day, IF has become my second home," she says. She now spends at least four hours a day managing the forum, buoyed by the encouragement from her family. As the website has grown in strength, so have the opinions. As a global moderator, Priya aka 'fortvpur' who manages sections, including Tumhari Disha
, says that they "try as far as possible to keep the forum unbiased ."
Things have changed from a time when seniority alone mattered in appointing a moderator. The step-by-step process goes thus, viewbies (members with limited powers), section moderators and global moderators.
Now the forum also allows members to make their own homepage, a common page for all members on which the 'Top 20' homepages will be displayed and IF-Radio. A recent addition is the live interview section. Members have already interacted with Iqbal khan (Angad of Kaise Yeh ... ) and will talk to Swapnil Joshi (Hare Kaanch Ki Choodiyan) and Riva Bubber (Damini in Kyunki ... )
Message from Vijay
My sincerest thanks goes to Subha J Rao (senior reporter for Hindu) who showed interest in covering our very own India Forums on their widely circulated National newspaper "The Hindu".
Thanks to each and every member who have been associated with us and contributed towards the forum development. We have reached where we are all because of your support.
Special thanks to all our Coolbies whom we always regarded as the most prized member for our Forum and without your contribution it wont have been possible.
Well last but not the least I can say is that this is just the beginning we have miles to go.
Edited by vijay - 05 September 2005 at 8:44am