Last year, the Delhi gang-rape took the entire country by storm. It created a stir on Indian fiction television as well — an episode on Crime Patrol that was based on the brutal incident got the show a total of 10.4 million TVTs (Television Viewership in Thousands). And this response isn’t the only one of its kind. The tube is witnessing a spurt in crime-based shows.
The Manoj Bajpayee-hosted show,
, made its debut on TV recently (it recreates real-life encounters of mafia figures). Soon after, the Sanjeeda Sheikh-starrer, Ek Hasina Thi, was also launched on the small screen (it revolves around a girl seeking revenge from her lover).
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These two new shows join several others in the genre, like Ishq Kills, Webbed, Crime Patrol, Savdhaan India, Halla Bol and, of course, CID, which has been running successfully for over 17 years.
Crime Patrol, a show anchored by actor Anoop Soni, started in 2003 and is currently in its fourth season with no end in sight. As per an estimate, almost a dozen such shows are currently on air on Indian TV right now.
So what explains this surge?
"There was a time when there were only weeklies and no daily soaps. Later, there was a series of family dramas. And now, everyone is trying to cash in on the success of crime shows," explains Soni.
All of these shows deal with different subjects within the realm of crime. While Webbed recreates real-life cases of the youth involved in cyber-crime, Ishq Kills mainly revolves around cases that fall within the purview of crimes of passion.
"TV shows are largely a reflection of what’s happening around us, and just look at the kind of crime reports we read in the papers these days. These shows also help bring out certain topics, which are generally not discussed in traditional Indian families," says Rajan Shahi, a TV director and producer.
Read:Vikram Bhatt to host Ishq Kills
Does the rise in crime-based shows signal a departure from the saas-bahu sagas?
"There is an audience for them (crime thrillers), but still, they make for weekend content, which is when men get to control the remote," says TV producer Ekta Kapoor.
Soni, however, is afraid that the genre will get exhausted and the audience will get bored with so many shows jumping into the fray.
As for Shahi, he believes this trend could have a positive and negative impact on the viewers. "It’s a double-edged sword. They might be looked upon as educative and informative (shows), but they also run the risk of misguiding the youth. So the audience has to be intelligent about what they watch," he says.