Television

Will the new scripted dramas make an impact?

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After two years, finally, some light ahead on the narrative television sightscreen? Hindi entertainment certainly needs it. 24 April will witness the launch of five new scripted dramas across the GEC channels, with three other prime time shows subsequently lining up for launch during this April-May phase.

The K-shows continue to have a clamp on share of audience, but on share of mind, it has been the reality and gameshow genres that have held sway since 2004

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One would really hope that some of these offerings hit bulls eye since it's been a while since scripted drama got front row mindspace on Hindi entertainment television. It was way back then, in September 2003 to be precise, that narrative entertainment made headlines and IMPACT when Star Plus' Kahiin To Hoga and Sony Entertainment's Jassi Jaissi Koi Nahin debuted almost simultaneously on the small screen.

What of Balaji's K-serials, one might ask? True, the K-shows (let's not forget Kahiin To Hoga is one as well but it is different) continue to have a clamp on share of audience, but if one were to look at a share of mind + audience combo, it has been the reality and gameshow genres that have held sway since 2004.

If end-2004 and beginning 2005 belonged to SET's Indian Idol, the second half of 2005 belonged to Star Plus' KBC2 and Star One's Nache Baliye and The Great Indian Laughter Challenge (TGILC), with Zee TV's Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge also making a year-end splash.

Barely have the viewers gathered their collective breaths on these shows, we're already into Star One's TGILC 2, Sony's Fear Factor India and Zee's Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Ek Main Aur Ek Tu.

It is pertinent to note that even Star, which has had by far the most success on its narrative offerings, would have reported a rather flat year had it not been for the success that KBC2, TGILC and Nache Baliye provided.

Now coming back to the narrative tale, it has happened abroad, with scripted drama making a grand comeback thanks in particular to extremely strong and successful worldwide successes such as Desperate Housewives, Grey's Anatomy and Lost.

Star, which has had by far the most success on its narrative offerings, would have reported a rather flat year had it not been for the success that 'KBC2', 'TGILC' and 'Nache Baliye' provided

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In India meanwhile, it is refreshing therefore, to know that in the middle of all this format overdose, Zee TV has been able to build a scripted success in Saath Phere - Saloni ka Safar (not your regular saas-bahu weepy) that rode beyond the spike provided by Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge. That is critical if such efforts are to get acceptance. Because while mind share is fine, the brutal truth is that the moolah is in audience share.

To quote Star Entertainment India CEO Sameer Nair: "Going by the theory, 'People watch programmes and not channels,' you require really strong magnetic programming to be successful. TV programmes and channels are going to further focus on the differentiation."

More power to the drama is what we say. And since so much of television in India gets its cues from cinema, here's hoping that the box office success of offerings as different and diverse as Rang De Basanti, Malaamal Weekly and Being Cyrus is reflected on the small screen as well with the new shows that are set to debut. And those which follow.

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