Indian TV: Back to the past!

Mumbai, Oct. 25 -- Saas-bahu shows may stay at the top, but TV trends indicate a rise in popularity for the mythology and history genres. With shows like Mahabharat and Buddha grabbing good ratings, we explore this recent surge.     

Why it works     

Producer of Maharana Pratap, Abhimanyu Singh says, "Mythologicals and historicals have always found takers in India. The audience identifies with them and they make for good family viewing. Now, since many new channels are being launched and they are willing to spend too, there will be no dearth of such shows."     

The challenges     

Nikhil Sinha, producer of Devon Ke Dev - Mahadev, says, "Content and production are the top priorities. Authenticity of costumes and characters is the biggest challenge. An eye for detail is a must, because making a mythological or historical show is a huge task. But as long as the audience loves them, they will stay on air."     

Earlier, Ekta Kapoor's Kahaani Hamaaray Mahaabhaarat Ki had a blink-and-miss appearance on TV. Her other show, Jodha Akbar, didn't do well initially, but it features prominently in the top five today. Even Mahadev's popularity has surpassed other shows in its category. Ironically, it catapulted lead actor Mohit Raina to a Godlike status among his fans.   Hits and misses     

TV shows like Shri Krishna, Mahima Shanidev Ki, Jai Hanuman, Jhansi Ki Rani, Chanakya, Veer Shivaji, Chandragupta Maurya and Prithviraj Chauhan may have turned out to be hits, but there are others that didn't make the cut. The latest Ramayan, Chittod Ki Rani Padmini, Jai Jai Jai Bajrangbali, Meera, Sai Baba and Shobha Somnath Ki failed to make an impact.     

Mahabharat's producer, Sidharth Kumar Tewary, says, "You have to tell the story in a way that it connects with the audience. People are aware of the characters vis-a-vis regular daily soaps, so they like to watch them as they are familiar with them. But it depends on the creative process behind the show. It's not like any show you make will work."     

Expensive treat     

Filming these shows costs almost 50-60 per cent more than regular series, making it a whopping ' 15-20 lakh per episode. The amount escalates because extensive research is also involved. The producer of Buddha, Dr BK Modi says, "It's not easy to make a show of this significance and scale. We have the benefit of years of research. We realised TV is a larger medium than films, so we made a show to reach out to the largest audience possible."     

The future     

Abhimanyu feels we will never run out of topics or personalities. He says, "The maker has to feel the need to tell a story. People are sensitive so one has to take care of their sensibilities too."