They say India does not live in its towns, but in its villages. And lately, they are not only generating good response in terms of ratings for networks as well as talent for reality shows, but are increasingly becoming the backdrop for a number of stories.
Time and again, stories from India’s heartland have found their way into the hearts of the TV audience. The success of Balika Vadhu, Punar Vivaah, Saath Nibhana Saathiya, Veera and Diya Aur Baati Hum (DABH) has proved that audiences do lap up stories set in towns and villages.
Watching a story set in familiar surroundings makes shows more relatable to viewers, who might be tired of serials that have a Rajasthani or Gujarati backdrop. This is something that is not lost on the networks, and might explain why so many stories have been set in smaller cities and towns in recent times. So, while a village in Punjab provides the backdrop to Veera, Saraswatichandra is set in a town close to Rajkot. On the other hand, while Pushkar is the setting for DABH, Qubool Hai, Beintehaa and Punar Vivaah are based in Bhopal. Indore, Gwalior and Bundelkhand too have TV shows set there.
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Smaller towns and villages also provide real-life stories and incidents from which a show, at times, seeks inspiration. Writers, too, dig out incidents — some real, others fictional — to keep interest levels high. Of course, the stories are far-fetched, but no one questions it if it sells. But most of the times, they are merely ways to get the show a good start and become a talking point.
For example, Udann, Phir Subah Hogi and Na Aana Iss Des Meri Laado started off as stories based on real practices and customs in India.
And if Amitabh Bachchan’s quiz show getting a grand launch in Surat is something to go by, small towns are here to stay and everyone is happy with the arrangement.