Television

Real life dramas spell bonanza for channels

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News hit the headlines on Indian television in 2001



The Gujarat earthquake, the Tehelka corruption tapes, the WTC terrorist attacks and finally the Afghan-US conflict all made for tragic happenings, but spelt good news for the clutch of news channels, local and otherwise. Fledgling 24-hour Hindi news channel Aaj Tak, which celebrated its first birthday on 31 December, emerged the strongest among the lot, as its TVRs soared from 11 September on, to notch up a 156 per cent rise in its viewership. Audiences tuned in to BBC, CNN, Star News and Zee News as well, providing the channels with some much-needed impetus.



Zee managed the telecast rights of the Tehelka tapes in January, but other programming initiatives through the year have failed to cut any ice with audiences. Its ambitious relaunch package of 24 new shows on the music, interactivity and extramarital relationship plank found no takers, forcing it to turn to the time-tested track of the mythological as the year drew to a close.



If 2000 was the year of the gameshow, 2001 saw its slow downturn. Star‘s golden goose KBC faded from public gaze gradually making way for the ubiquitous family soaps that kept the channel consistently on top of the TRP charts. If Zee‘s me-too Sawal Dus Crore Ka fell flat on its face in 2000, Sony‘s Jeeto Chhappar Phaad Ke that debuted in January failed to live up to the hype and expectations that surrounded a Govinda-anchored show and expired mid-year after burning a big hole in the channel‘s bottomline. And as a Sony executive admitted, ultimately it also boiled down to the fact that belief in the project was lacking.



Balaji Telefilms‘ creative director Ektaa Kapoor clearly established herself firmly as the queen bee of the family drama as her soaps continued to cream all others in the genre. Kyunkii.., Kahani? on Star Plus, Kkusum and Kutumb on Sony and even on Zee, there was Kohi Apna Sa. The trivial pursuits and convoluted love tangles of the rich and middle Indian urbanites kept viewers glued to the small screen, even as the serial titles, stories, sets and artistes have begun to merge in one continuous blur as more and more similar serials invade the TV screen.



The reality show became a reality for Indian television this year with Temptation Island (a rerun of the US show) launching in November on Star World, but the audience is yet to bite. Survivor and The Amazing Race debuted on AXN, but the two that failed to materialize were Sony‘s Shubh Vivaah - a matrimony based show hosted by that got tangled in litigation and Zee‘s ambitious Prisoners of War (POW), a show loosely based on the successful UK production Jailbreak.



Star has meanwhile begun the process of adjusting to life without KBC. It has just launched Kamzor Kadii Kaun, in which Neena Gupta plays the catty hostess a la Anne Robinson in the BBC original The Weakest Link.



On old Mother Hubbard Doordarshan ancient hit serials reran to find a loyal following all over again. That was after the Kerry Packer promoted Channel Nine Gold tuned out of national broadcaster DD‘s Metro channel.



A handful of niche channels like Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, National Geographic and Animal Planet realized it would pay more to go native and introduced several hours of Hindi programming each as the year progressed. Most toons on several channels too have switched to speaking in Hindi, an indication of viewer preferences.

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