TV producers say that despite the hype around consummation scenes, the ratings dip as viewers shy away from watching their onscreen idols get intimate.
Consummation scenes on TV are treated like a celebration, so much so, that TV couples wait for at least a year before they decide to take their relationship to the next level. While these tracks are usually treated as high points for the storyline, with a huge build-up around it and promos being aired weeks in advance, they do not end up generating high ratings for the broadcasters, confess producers. Even the makers are flummoxed by this trend. They say that though TV doesn't get too graphic in these scenes, the 'semi-sleaze' quotient is expected be the high point for the show, yet it's not enough to generate ratings.
Family audiences shy away from watching consummation scenes
The small screen is a family viewing medium and people get embarrassed while watching consummation scenes with their parents in the confines of their drawing room. Director and producer Ravindra Gautam says, "Even the makers find it ironic. I think that the audience finds the process of the couple coming together very interesting but when they finally do come together, it becomes very predictable for them. It has always been that the consummation episodes see a decline in ratings. I think people in B-cities still shy away from watching such scenes, even though they are not very in-your-face."
People think of our leads like they are demigods
Producers opine that the leads of a show are regarded in a reverential way and the idea of them making love or getting intimate somehow surprises viewers. Shashi Mittal, producer of 'Diya Aur Baati Hum', says, "TV sets are usually in the drawing room and people get embarrassed when they see such scenes on their screens. Our programs show the hero and heroine in such a pavitra light that people don't expect them to indulge in such acts. People don't want to see such scenes in their drawing room. It's always the misunderstandings, the dupatta udna sequence or the haath pakadna sequences that give ratings, but consummation scenes don't. The sequences are played up in the hope that they will fetch ratings eventually. Makers assume that if people can go and watch 'Dostana' or 'Murder 3' with their families, they can also watch such episodes in their drawing rooms. In 'Diya Aur Baati Hum', the lead pair is revered by audiences like Ram and Sita and people couldn't take it that the pair could consummate their marriage. I remember that even though DABH was the top-rated show at that time (when the leads were about to consummate their marriage), we saw that the rating of that particular episode, when they were shown getting intimate, was the lowest during the week."
READ: Not only consummation, but adult content is a no-no
Industry insiders say that the moment an adult issue is touched upon in a show, it means that there will be a decline in ratings. Gajra Kottary, writer of 'Balika Vadhu', says, "It's that whole shyness thing. The whole family tunes in for such shows, but it becomes embarrassing to watch such things with the family. This is why women tend to shoo the children away or decide to watch the show at a time when others are not around. Not that they don't want to watch it, but it becomes very awkward for them. Until recently, when we had an 11pm repeat of 'Balika Vadhu', we would find that the rating of the repeat telecast was higher than the 8pm slot. We found that if there was some adult content, which viewers know because of the highlights and promos, they would watch late-night repeat. We showed Anandi, when she was a child, getting her first period, which was a logical thing to show. Usually, when girls go through that phase, their mothers explain the bodily process to their daughters, but Anandi was a child bride and was in her sasural during that time.We wanted to explore how a child who doesn't know about this, but has to follow rules and regulations that stop her from entering the kitchen and make it mandatory for her to sleep on the floor, would feel during such an experience. A lot of people asked why we showed such a topic at 8pm, but we wanted to encourage mothers to talk to their daughters about menstruation by highlighting Anandi's plight. We had also touched upon the issue of child abuse in our show, but we have seen that people are a little squeamish about watching such things during prime time."
Promos might be backfiring
Some believe that highlights of the next day's shows or the sneak-peek before the advertisements, which give viewers a glimpse of such scenes, are responsible for the low ratings, as the viewers end up changing the channel. Gautam adds, "In theatres, sometimes you don't even know if there's going to be a lovemaking scene in the movie you're watching. For instance, 'Band Baaja Baaraat' had a lovemaking scene - something that was not highlighted in the trailers. Once you are inside the cinema hall, you can't leave, but when you are at home, you can simply change the channel because such scenes are promoted well. We have seen that the late-night repeat telecasts see an increase in ratings and now, people even log on to YouTube to watch the shows. When the consummation scene in 'Bade Achhe Lagte Hain' happened, people were surprised to see two middle-aged people making love and the ratings went down because people couldn't handle it. I've shot a lot of consummation scenes, however, and regardless of the age of the couple, ratings always dip. The perception on TV is that the love story ends after consummation, but in reality, consummation is the start of a love story. Most of the time, we plan a consummation scene before the show is about to take a leap and after the leap, we show the couple having a child. I think the promos might be backfiring because people might think, 'Chalo aaj story mein kuch khaas nahi hoga kyunki aaj toh inka consummation hai. Chachi aur bua koi game nahi khelenge.'"
We keep delaying consummation subplots
Saurabh Tewari, producer of 'Phir Bhi Na Maane... Badtameez Dil', "Till we show misunderstandings between a couple or the way in which they fall in love, our show's ratings remain high, but the moment we show them making out, we see a fall in ratings. I have noticed that in almost all my shows, be it in 'Madhubala - Ek Ishq Ek Junoon' or 'Rangrasiya'. In 'Rangrasiya', till Rudra and Paro were just married but not physically intimate, it was fine. As soon as they were shown getting intimate, the ratings went for a toss. That is why many a time, makers throw in a twist when the leads are about to come together. The smart ones bring in some misunderstandings when the leads are about to unite and then after three months, create that situation again. Even the viewers suspect that the consummation scene might not take place because they know that some or the other hurdle will crop up."
20-30% decline in ratings
Pradeep Hejmadi, business head of Zee TV, says, "The realization of a beautiful moment in a relationship is what the audience likes to see. We have to be very responsible while depicting it. With the whole family sitting around together, it does become difficult to watch. People want to see it because it's an important moment in their favourite couple's life - not necessarily for voyeuristic purposes, but because it's romantic. We have seen that people watch it during repeat telecasts or the technologically advanced fan catches it online. There is a general dip of 20-30% in prime time viewing when such a scene is promoted heavily but through repeats, you aggregate much more than you lose."