Friday, January 13, 2006

The first phase of the Indian reality Television

The reality shows are fast becoming a reality on Indian television. As the number of channels increase by the day, there is a need for constant innovation. Reality TV programming is emerging as an answer to this need. No wonder, they are now an integral part of most of the TV channels' programming strategy.

The genre of ‘reality shows’ can be broadly divided into three main categories. In the first, the viewer and the camera are passive observers following people going about their daily personal and professional activities. This style of filming is often referred to as "fly on the wall". The famous 'Big Brother' series work on this concept.In the second type, hidden cameras are rolling when random passers-by encounter a staged situation. The reactions of the passers-by can be funny to watch, but they also reveal the truths about human conditioning. The very watchable MTV Bakra is an example of this category. In the third type, the so-called "reality game shows", participants are filmed intensively in an enclosed environment while competing to win a prize; Kaun Banega Crorepati being an example.
Back in 80’s MTv aired a revolutionary show called ‘The Real world’ which made celebrities out of ordinary young Americans thrown together in an apartment, getting along, getting frisky, racial tensions, a fantastic mix of high emotions and drama, until it turned sour and lost its originality and its audience by the late 90’s. But what it did was, sow the seeds for an idea, which is being regurgitated at the speed of light today, by media moguls and networks hungry for success.

In India the success of Indian Idol marked the turning point of reality television. Abijeet sawant the winner of the Indian idol must be thanking the reality genre. The show that was a direct rip off from the American Idol has changed his personality, fortunes, address and bank balance. He's moved into a five-bedroom flat in posh Vile Parle and is an icon of sorts for millions of Indians. His album ‘Aapka Abijeet’ sold about 5 million copies. The album was pitted against Nigam's Chanda Kee Doli at the recent MTV Immies and won hands down in the best album category. The reach of Indian Idol was unbelievable.
After the massive success of Star’s ‘Kaun Banega Crorpati’ Star plus has launched the second run of the show. On the first day of its launched it raked a TRP of over 19.0.

When it comes to production costs these shows are a huge money guzzler Karun Prabhakar, director operations at Siddharth Basu-owned Synergy which produced KBC, says: "A reality show can cost above Rs 30 crore (Rs 300 million) - an amount a channel spends for a year of programming."

However, even a meticulously crafted financial plan can fall flat on its face if the creative concept goes wrong. A hugely successful KBC or an Indian Idol cannot rub off the failures of the Govinda-anchored Jeeto Chappar Phad Ke (Sony) and Madhuri Dixit’s much publicized matchmaking show Kahin na Kahin Koi Hay (Sony) from the small screen. So, caution is the key word for any new show.
Today there are a host of shows searching and reaching to younger generation. What makes the lure of reality television so irresistible? “It makes make young people like me famous” explains Rooprekha Banerjee winner of the recently aired Fame Gurukul. An opportunity to work with big names in the industry, big bucks and tones of other freebies are a part of the lucrative package.

For those who seek adventure there is the MTv Roadies 3 and those who think they are going to be the next super model of India there is Channel V get gorgeous 3. Phenomena of Reality TV has taken the Indians by a storm there are shows that test your intelligence, skill, humor aptitude, talent or merely your physique.
But not everyone believes in the success of reality TV. For some, it's no more than a marketing gimmick to attract TRP ratings and generate revenue through SMSes and phone calls that cost nearly Rs 6 and Rs2.50 respectively, from which 40 per cent goes to channels and the rest goes to the service providers (in this case, Airtel and Hutch). Music channels have a minuscule share in the TRP pie, the reality programmes has helped them push the TRPs of the channel, bag popularity and carve a niche for themselves. A good example is Bakra, which is now synonymous with MTV. Shows like ‘Nacha Baliye’ and ‘the great Indian Laughter challenge’ have done wonders to the TRPs of Star one it has help push the TRPs of Star One from an average of 0.4 to over 4.0.

For so far, successful Indian reality-programming has been more or less only about recognising abilities — not about despicable, degraded voyeurism: cheating on partners (Temptation Island), betraying competitors (Survivor), hitching on to eligible millionaires (Joe Millionaire), swapping spouses (Wife Swap). This is the first stage of the life cycle of Indian reality genre as the audiences mature more formats of reality will finds its way into the tube.

Sources: Agencyfaqs, Amrita Sarkar SIMC


xeonX said...

hey dhivya,

Nice blog ..pretty informative..
think you forgot to mention some really cool shows from AXN.. the one that springs to mind is THE AMAZING RACE.. though its not an indian show, its got a pretty good viewrship rating.. you're right when you say there is a huge risk involved..great blog dhivs.. keep blogging..

Sandeep said...

Interesting perspective.
I've never been a big fan of reality television; but my contention is that all these shows are a consequence of surrealistic lifestyles projected through movies, soap operas and the like. It's just too good to be true. So maybe, this is a sort of escape mechanism from all that.
Of course, being reality, there's always the shock of poor performances and phases of dull inertness, but it's just another avenue of entertainment, and if it means higher TRPs for the network, so be it. After all, it's completely upto the viewer's discretion... We can always choose what we want to see!
Nice blog. Do keep writing!

jegansri said...

heeeeeeeeeeeee :-) i dont belive in these things