Crime time TV: Genuine interest or herd mentality

  • Kavita Awaasthi, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Dec 29, 2014 16:57 IST

At any given time of the day, there is a crime show playing on one or the other General Entertainment Channels (GEC). From shows that re-create real incidents, to fictional series, entertainment channels seem to have as much crime on them as news channels do now. Why the sudden spike in such content, especially in a country where TV entertainment is viewed as a way to escape reality?

The curiosity factor

Subramanian S Iyer, creator, writer and director of Crime Patrol (CP), feels that such shows are popular because of people's curiosity. "They engage the audience, as people start thinking about how the crime took place. You may not want to be part of it in real life, but you're always curious about what happened."

According to a recent analysis, a large section of the audience comprises men, especially in metro cities, with Hindi GECs getting most eyeballs from 7 pm to 9.30 pm, and English GECs from 9.30 pm to 1 am (these are the preferred slots for such shows as well).

The success of CP urged others to follow; and they brought in innovative formats: so, Gumrah focuses on juvenile crime, and Halla Bol (HB) aims to educate women on how to fight back; while Savdhaan India (SI) focuses on cases from a certain part of the country (Delhi, Mumbai, UP etc) at one time.

With each show having its own theme, it gives the audience variety, and creates awareness, feels Pooja Gor, host of SI. "What we read in the papers is just 10 per cent of the actual crime," she says. Karan Tacker, host of HB, says, "Crimes in metro cities need to be highlighted. Our show talks about women's issues as, even today, women deal with crimes on a daily basis." Karan also reasons why we're seeing more such shows now: "In the past one year or so, there have been many more issues highlighted in the media, and women have come out stronger in response."

Anoop Soni, host of CP, had told HT Café earlier, "We hold a mirror up to society. Each story has a lesson, as we analyse the crime and the criminal."

One too many?

When having different formats, or themes, works, there is herd mentality at play as well, feels Iyer. "Until CP came along, no one thought of dramatising crime shows on GECs. Back then, people wondered who would watch such shows. But once it became a hit, others followed. There will soon be saturation in this genre if there isn't any reinvention," says Iyer.

Pooja, on the other hand, says there's no such thing as too many crime shows. "People need to know what is happening. I still get shocked every time I host an episode and learn about the details of what people go through. Crime shows help people understand how to fight back and how to help themselves," she says.

International hit crime shows

The popular CSI: Crime Scene Investigation has crime scene analysts working for the Las Vegas Police Department. The show inspired two spin offs, CSI: Miami and CSI: NY.
American police procedural show, Criminal Minds, shows FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit based in Quantico, Virginia, USA, profile criminals.
Sherlock Holmes has two modern adaptations - on British TV as Sherlock, and on American TV, as Elementary.
On NCIS, a team conducts criminal investigations involving the US Navy and Marine Corps, and has been running strong for 12 seasons.
A former psychic helps the California Bureau of Investigation in The Mentalist.
In Bones, FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth and forensic anthropologist Dr Temperance 'Bones' Brennan solve crimes.
Blue Bloods focuses on a family of NYPD officers.
Hannibal is a psychological thriller-horror with new cases in every episode.
Castle is about a popular novelist Richard Castle working with an NYPD homicide detective to solve unusual crimes in New York City, USA.

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