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Old 12-16-2008, 02:56 PM
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Default Reality hits 'saas-bahu' hard

The era of the soap opera seems to have ended. With long-running shows like Kyunki... Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi... and Kahaani Ghar Ghar Kii bidding

their last goodbyes, reality shows have taken over as the new headliners.

Shows like Bigg Boss, Khatron Ke Khiladi, Roadies and Indian Idol have people of all ages hooked onto the small screen. Not only these, the ageless reality dance show, Boogie Woogie and its successors, Zara Nachke Dikha and Nach Baliye have been receiving a lot of attention from TV lovers nationwide.

Reality is the wannabe monarch of the small screen. That brings forth the question: what prompted this change? Broadcast journalist Shaheen Ahmed says, “When Kyunki... started, it was a new concept that was not seen by viewers earlier. It was a hit because it was different. Eight years down the line, watching the same melodrama has become annoying, and viewers are now looking forward to something new. The reality shows are providing a unique format never seen before. Kaun Banega Crorepati made people across the country stand up and take notice.” But, Shaheen does not believe that soap operas will go off the air completely. “The Indian middle class needs a little bit of everything from melodrama and comed to action and suspense. There will always be a saas-bahu serial on the air in some form or the other.”

The obvious reason is that reality shows offer the audience something new and different. TV actor Chetan Hansraj says, “Times are changing, and people are looking for something different to watch. Reality shows do offer something different. They may not be getting that many TRPs, but they are quite interesting.” But, Chetan is not one to say that soap operas have disappeared into the mist. “If you see the serial Balika Vadhu, the TRPs of that show are almost seven or eight points. It’s just that people generally feel that they are gone which is obviously not true.”

It is possible that the same theory might be applied to reality shows in future. But, for now, reality shows are a great way to involve audiences around the country. Radhika Sharma, programme coordinator for an NGO, opines, “What I like about reality shows is the ‘what next?’ factor. They are a great way to promote talent and involve the audience in the show. Right now, it seems that these shows are a hit. But, who knows? Maybe some years later, such shows will saturate and something new will come along.”

The Indian television industry is constantly evolving. Till yesterday, the soap opera ruled. Today, the soap’s throne can be usurped by reality shows. Tomorrow, there will be something else, show business being always driven by the fuel of change.
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