Back in the ’90s, the television audience was spoilt for choice. From dramatic serials such as Saans and Yug to sit-coms such as Dekh Bhai Dekh and Hum Paanch — TV offered a variety of content. Unfortunately, today, industry members feel that the tube is dominated by daily soaps with similar plot lines. This situation is not expected to improve anytime soon either.
But a new emerging trend might just be the solution everyone is looking for. With the revival of TV shows on the Internet, no longer are television producers at the mercy of rating-driven channels or stringent censor boards.
Badtameez Dil and Iss Pyaar Ko Kya Naam Doon (IPKKND were among the first few TV shows to make their digital comebacks last year. Now, two immensely popular serials — Sarabhai vs Sarabhai and Hip Hip Hurray — are also set to return as web series.
Sarabhai family at satish ji 's place.... Some good news for fans on its way 😜😆 pic.twitter.com/lHQ9JjkfoR— JDMajethia (@JDMajethia) June 29, 2016
Industry experts single out increased levels of censorship on the small screen as the main trigger for this trend. The lack of freedom to push the envelope when it comes to showing nudity on TV, for instance, has become an issue too. “Though television is growing, we are grappling with a lot of censorship issues, especially with intimate scenes and violence. The digital platform is a private space,” says TV producer Vikas Gupta, who is bringing back Hip Hip Hurray. “Television is dominated by daily soaps. There is no place for a half-an-hour [youth-centric] weekly anymore,” adds Gupta, who has also produced several other youth-based shows.
Makers suggest that the popularity of old shows has compelled many to explore the digital space. “The response for Sarabhai vs Sarabhai was great. That’s why we are taking this step,” says the show’s producer JD Majethia.
Actors, too, are benefiting from this freedom. Badtameez Dil star Asmita Sood says, “The writers were not thinking about censorship. The focus was mainly on the show.” However, she admits she was initially “hesitant” about coming on board for the web version of Badtameez Dil. “At that time, I had no idea how the show would be perceived online. I guess I was wrong, as it got a lot more popularity online,” she says.
While television producers and directors believe that the web offers several platforms to showcase good content, they also point out the need for its development. “The digital world, at this point in time, is in its germination phase. Besides, the money made on the web can’t be compared to what television generates, but there are times when you are driven only by creativity and passion,” says Gupta.
Giving us an estimate of the money involved in producing online content, Gul Khan, producer of IPKKND, says, “The investment in a web series varies from Rs 10,000 to Rs 1,00,000 per episode. There are no fixed parameters. I think it will take about four to five years for the web market to settle down.”