Why family dramas still rule television!


Mumbai, Oct. 17 -- The Hindi television industry has come a long way in the last odd decade. Since the early 2000s, the number of TV channels and the list of reality show concepts have increased manifold.

Unfortunately, in comparison, Hindi fiction content on the tube hasn't evolved as much. Every now and then, a few shows like Anil Kapoor's Indian adaptation of the American action series 24 or even Amitabh Bachchan's Yudh have surfaced, but largely, the fiction space on General Entertainment Channels (GEC) is still ruled by family dramas.

The TV industry rues this trend, but most of them admit that they're merely catering to the demand for such shows. "Because of our social system it's very difficult to get into a new zone [in fiction television]," regrets TV producer Swapna Wagmare Joshi, who has directed family soaps like Teen Bahuraaniyaan, and was the creative director of the popular show, Kahaani Ghar Ghar Kii.

On numerous occasions in the past, producers have tried experimenting with subjects other than family dramas. But due to lack of ratings and, subsequently, drop in advertisements, these shows have never lasted. "There were shows like Special Squads and Hotel Kingston that were not family dramas. But there was no audience for them. Our women viewers can connect to family conflicts somehow, but not to a conflict that arises out of a young girl coming from the US and becoming the managing director of a hotel (as was the case in Hotel Kingston). For them, this is not as interesting as family politics," adds Joshi.

According to Kaushik Ghatak, who directed several episodes of Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi in the early 2000s, fiction TV in India consistently needs more shows like 24 and Yudh.

"These series might not gain TRPs that are at par with family dramas, but at least they encourage others to make similar content by exposing them to it," says Ghatak, who also directed episodes of the medical drama, Sanjivani - A Medical Boon (2002-2005). "Back when it started, it was a very different effort. Our channel researchers were doubtful about whether it would work, but it did," he adds.

TV producer Yash Patnaik agrees, saying that increased exposure among the audience will eventually lead to producers experimenting with more genres. "The people will change, and then the content will too," he says.