Gone are the days when television broadcasting used to be meek and sober. Only one channel, limited viewing options, all this prevailed, and hence prevailed what is called quality broadcasting. With the number of channels skyrocketing, television content has started becoming mediocre. How fondly even today viewers recollect the evergreen “Yeh Jo hain Zindagi”, “ Chunauti”, or “Hum Log”, or “Khandan” days; when soap operas used to start, create a niche, be talked about, create their unique identity, and one fine day, like any soap, these soaps used to get over, with a meaningful end; instead of dragging on and on endlessly, meaninglessly and relentlessly. Come to think of it, programmes like “ Wagle ki duniya”, “Circus”, “Doosra Keval”, “Buniyaad” and many more are cherished by viewers till date.
But since more than a decade back, we have been gripped by the “Saas Bahu” extravaganza. Heavy drapery, larger then life sets, a display of lavishness, where everyone is shown fully decked up in ornaments; such that one would feel that one is attending some kind of wedding ceremony on daily basis…..
This whole television offering has become bloated. There’s as if no place for simpletons here anymore. Media management has truly come of age, and huge capital investments are pouring in these TV production houses. Of course certain professionalism too is coming in, but at the end of the day, what viewers get are these crispy, overtly dramatized bunches of soaps.
And now, we’ve even gone a step further. We are into this “Reality Shows” big time. Large scale viewership, tooth nail TRP fights, big money, huge publicity, great scope for real life adventures—all this defines this reality business on TV.
Be it those hard hitting singing competitions where kids fight it out and sweat it out, hoping for that moment of victory; and are eventually told they sung well, or sometimes they are told they faltered and lacked quite a bit, at times they are told they were just average, and amidst all this they are forced to taste the bitter truth called failure. For the producers and sponsors, it is merely a competition. But for these barely 8 and 9 yr olds, this whole thing is impacting them psychologically, and making an ever lasting impression on their brittle minds. It’s hard to say who will take these failures in their stride, and who will succumb to those failures. All said and done, for them it is life long. And then, when we hear those results announced, and their reactions are shown, those who have failed break down, one really tends to wonder whether this whole thing is for real, or is overtly dramatized to create audience impact.
So, be it the “Big Brother” episode, which swept in talks of racial discrimination of Indians; or the later occurrence where one of it’s winners who was on death bed, readily agreed to broadcast her own death for millions of viewers; or be it the “Idol” trophy and tag, which was completely aped from Western media, or some other reality show where adventure was on in full swing, and venturesome people accepted challenges like bungee jumping and what not; time has come when we stop and think for a change as to what has become of TV as a mass media. How are all these programmes becoming so very popular, and climbing up the viewership charts? Haven’t we ourselves made them popular? And why? What for? Are we so hungry for content that in the bargain, we’ve lost the definition of quality broadcasting?
And if all the above mentioned reality shows weren’t enough, we now have on our platter, the much hyped and publicized ace of all reality shows— the Swayamwar” thing, where the hostess of the show declared that she’ll be tying knot to one of the participants on the show, and she did it! We ourselves as viewers are responsible for bringing shallow TV viewing in place. As viewers we give in to this kind of entertainment, and get engrossed in whatever that’s being shown. Why are we becoming so passive to this reality thing?
Not that we need to completely go back in time and say that those were the days; the limited serials we were shown that should be the end of story. But yes, that truly was a golden era of TV viewing.
Today’s overall TV programming is no doubt marked by some really good TV channels, but prima facie the reality shows—no way.
Wake up viewers. Wake up fast before it is too late; and these kinds of shows grab and start cashing in on your personal lives.
After all in TV business today, who says reality bites? For the broadcasters, reality is selling like hotcakes……….