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Things can only get better, I’m hoping

Many of you, dear readers, probably don’t watch Hindi serials on GECs (general entertainment channels). And who can blame you? Poonam Saxena writes.

tv Updated: Dec 30, 2011 23:23 IST
Poonam Saxena

Many of you, dear readers, probably don’t watch Hindi serials on GECs (general entertainment channels). And who can blame you? Even if you take the usual cribs (I’ve grumbled about them myself a thousand times) — you know, women characters going to bed in full jewellery and makeup, mothers-in-law having apoplectic fits if their bahus aren’t clutching pooja thalis to their bosoms all day, etc — you’ll know what I mean.

For all of you, 2011 was a bonanza because of the number of new English entertainment channels that found their way to our TV sets, such as Fox Crime, FX etc. International shows and dramas have positively exploded on our screens. Even older players like Star World have got into the act and upgraded their programming. Whether it’s Dexter or the MasterChef series, we are seeing the latest seasons here.

If you’re a fan of American shows, you’re in TV heaven. (All the shows aren’t great, but there’s enough to suit
every taste).

But many of you probably do watch Hindi serials devotedly — the truth is that GECs have more viewers than any other genre of TV channels. And the good news for you is that this year there was a bit of sizzle and sparkle on the entertainment landscape.

2011 definitely belonged to Sony. The channel made it to the No. 2 spot and even if it occasionally slid down the charts, it made no difference. They did a Slumdog Millionaire on KBC and transformed an already first-rate show into something truly extraordinary. And Amitabh Bachchan proved why he is routinely referred to as an icon, a legend, etc etc. Sony also had other solid winners this year — the mature love story Bade Achche Lagte Hain, the hit crime trilogy (CID, Crime Patrol and Adalat) and the long-running Comedy Circus. Sony also roped in Madhuri Dixit as a judge on their fun reality show property Jhalak Dikhla Jaa.

Sony may have clambered up to the No. 2 position, but who was No. 1? The answer to this question has been the same for more than 10 years. Star Plus is almost like an unassailable fortress (except for a brief interregnum a few years ago when Colors overtook it).

This year, the channel brought Hrithik Roshan to TV for the first time, as a judge on their reality show Just Dance. I thought he made a confident debut, projecting himself as a warm, down-to-earth person even though he is such a big star (which the show never let us forget). Star Plus got back a much-improved version of MasterChef India; it also introduced a host of new serials (such as the Mills and Boon-style love story, Iss Pyaar Ko Kya Naam Doon), most of which are getting good ratings. (Warning: Even the best — relatively speaking — of GEC soaps suffer from weird characterisation, story tracks that border on the idiotic, and scenes that make you want to throw something — preferably big and heavy — at your TV screen. And they could all get an award for The Serial That Drags The Most — often weeks go by and the only thing that happens is that someone goes to the kitchen and someone else to the temple).

The Star network has also just launched Star Plus’s sister channel, Life OK. (I had promised a review of its shows this time, but I guess that’ll have to wait till next week).

At No. 3 is Colors, mostly in the news for its headline-grabbing show Bigg Boss. Every week, they keep throwing in some new housemate or the other, in a tireless (and tiresome) effort to keep things on the boil.

Things can only get better in 2012 — I hope!