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‘It’s all about packaging’

Anil Wanvari of Indiantelevision.com on the reason for real-life dramas getting a thumbs up.

tv Updated: Oct 21, 2009 21:16 IST

The concept
All of us know that there’s a problem in society at every level. Everyone, right from a man travelling in a Mercedes to a woman labouring in our household, has gone through hell at some time. The real issue is, despite being aware of these things, we don’t make an attempt to solve the problems. There are self-proclaimed organisations that are supposedly working towards a resolve but nothing of great relevance has ever surfaced.

Shows like Balika Vadhu and Aap Ki Antara have the capacity to trigger off the change, if not be the change. Social awareness is also created through books and periodicals. So, the common man is not alien to these concepts.

The ratings

The main reason for most of these shows garnering high TRPs is there’s a voyeur in all of us. We are shocked to see Anandi being thrown into a dark room of the house. We shed tears when Sugna’s husband dies. The element of shock works for us. Our maids and watchmen relate to these problems because they’ve seen it happening in their villages.

The packaging
Reality shows are also packaged well. They mix some drama in them to increase their appeal. Over-the-top behaviour comes into play here. This is reality TV of a different kind. It has been designed in a way, so that besides giving gyaan, it also entertains.

Classic examples
Buniyaad, Rajni and Hum Log are the finest examples of reality TV shows in the form of soaps in the 80s. With Buniyaad, you shed tears because you could relate to the post independence partition. My father cried when he watched the show because he knew what one went through when one’s land was snatched away.

Rajni dealt with consumer rights. We discuss consumer rights today in open forums. But this TV show addressed the issue almost a decade and a half ago. It sent a message across that’s still fresh in viewers’ memories. Hum Log was the realistic picture of the typical middle class Indian. It can’t get better than that.
(As told to Rachana Dubey)