New Delhi: Just a few
years ago, television producers found a new recipe to make
successful shows - social messages garnished with melodrama and
entertainment. The delicacy brought in hit shows like "Balika
Vadhu" and "Pratigya", but the menu soon changed track after the
initial episodes. Experts blame TRP pressure for this.
"Balika Vadhu", a take on child marriage, recently completed 1,000
episodes, but its protagonist Anandi's fate is still undecided and
the same is the case with "Pratigya", in which the lead actress
ends up marrying the man who used to harass her.
Gajra Kottary, writer of "Balika Vadhu", says life in a rural
setup is not easy.
"There are no jumps in life. Everything is very gradual and that
is what we are trying to show. We have so far shown the pain of
her (Anandi's) journey...," Kottary, who has based the story in a
Rajasthan village, told IANS.
"Anandi has achieved a lot. The fact that she has won her in-laws
who are by her side and support her. I don't think this should be
considered something of less than an achievement," she added.
Anandi's achievement notwithstanding, the show has not delivered a
concrete message yet.
The same is the case with "Pratigya" where the lead actress is
initially shown fighting against eveteasing but later marries the
guy who used to tease her and indulges in kitchen politics.
The shows on TV also tried to touch upon the issues of female
foeticide and sexual harassment in "Naa Aana Iss Des Laado" and "Agle
Janam Mohe Bitiya Hi Kijo", but after delivering some successful
episodes, the social themes fizzled out.
Why does kitchen politics overshadow social themes?
Industry experts say the TRP factor takes a toll and makes the
Media analyst Kinjal Shah opines that the makers come with
innovative show ideas but when they are hit by low TRPs, they take
the path of kitchen politics.
"Producers make an effort to come with interesting story lines to
break the monopoly of 'saas-babu' dramas. These generally do well
in the beginning but are not able to keep the viewers interested
for a long time," Shah told IANS.
"Another reason for low TRPs could be the lack of research by the
team to keep up with the (original) track. When they fail to keep
the story interesting while focussing on the social issue, they
rely on the mean kitchen politics," Shah added.
Writer director Mrinal Jha says more than the TRPs, the producers'
lack of confidence mars such shows.
"If you believe that people would want to watch a different story,
then you should stick to it. If the makers change the original
concept and move on to the same 'saas-bahu' storyline that means
they themselves are not convinced about the script. This indicates
their lack of confidence," Jha told IANS.
Jha has written scripts for shows like "Chhoona Hai Aasmaan", "Kyunki
Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi", "Kasturi", and is currently scripting "Phir
Subah Hogi" on Zee TV.
Kottary says the challenge is to work around TRPs.
"We cannot dismiss the TRP factor. One has to accept it and we
have to work around it. The challenge is to sustain the TRP and
not to forget the social message behind," she said.
She feels her "Balika Vadhu" show has managed to achieve that.
"We have said that in a very emotional manner, mixed with some
entertainment and colourful culture of Rajasthan. We have played
on that but never gone wrong on the central message that child
marriage is a curse," said Kottary who has shows like "Jyoti", "Godh
Bharaai" and "Astitva" to her credit.
She feels high voltage emotions are vital to keep the viewers
"Television is mainly watched by women; so the shows have to be
very emotional. But the problem is with the makers who can't show
the story in an emotional, yet real, way," she said.
(Aastha Khurana can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)