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Reality tv of a new kind

All your prime-time soap operas suddenly deal with child marriage to groom kidnapping, and farmers’ suicides. The next one, Tere Mere Sapne, deals with domestic migration. Check out the demise of TV’s saas-bahus.

tv Updated: Oct 21, 2009 21:05 IST
Rachana Dubey

Sexy clothes, a dishy house, perennially young-looking parents and larger-than-life stories have made way for reality TV of a different kind. Today, more and more daily soaps are trying to blend reality with drama. Packaging the truth has replaced playing up la-la-land ideas.

The current crop of leading dailies includes seven shows, which deal with different real-life issues. Balika Vadhu paved the way with its stunning execution of various issues that accompany child marriages, which are quite prominent in
different parts of the country.

Agle Janam Mohe Bitiya Hi Kijo shows how the rich use a poor man’s daughter to obtain an heir. Next in order, were Bhagyavidhata, Bairi Piya, Beyttab Dil Ki Tamanna Hai, Aap Ki Antara and Laado, which dealt with everything from groom stealing, farmer suicides in Vidharbha, the underbelly of Mumbai, autistic children and female infanticide, respectively.
In keeping with the trend, Star Plus has devised a show that deals with migration.

Tere Mere Sapne, which starts in November, is about a village boy, a farmer, who lands in Mumbai to make a living but in the process ends up losing quite a lot. His dreams are shattered, life takes uneven twists and turns and he doesn’t know where he’s headed.

According to TAM data, there has been a steady increase in the number of homes in the lower income group, which possess TV sets. This has opened new markets in the interiors of Bihar, Rajasthan, and Maharashtra. In a bid to differentiate content, most soap-makers have gone story hunting to towns and villages where they might chance upon issues plaguing one or more sections of the society.

Vipul Mehta wanted to experiment. So he wrote Beyttab Dil Ki Tammanna Hai. Kamal Pandey wanted to voice his opinion on female infanticide and wrote Laado.

With more and more shows veering towards real-life drama, there’s some apprehension about how long the trend will stay. Shekhar cautions that bhed-chaal has never fetched anyone anything.

“It’s a no-win situation. Balika Vadhu has not been affected so far by the kind of shows that followed. But other shows try to exaggerate their stories as one-upmanship. That’s when reality begins to take a backseat. The audience gets bored and looks for something new,” rues Shekhar.

However, Pandey says that the shows have brought in hope for the grave issues in society. He says, “Whether there’s bhed-chaal or not, one shouldn’t forget that so many different issues are being addressed and there is some change in the way our society thinks today. And since there’s no dearth of social issues in our country, there’s hope that this phase will last longer than the rest.”