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Why crime works on TV

Voyeurism is certainly the main reason, but what viewers like best about crime shows on entertainment channels is the lessons they can take away.

tv Updated: May 04, 2012 17:30 IST
Kavita Awaasthi
Kavita Awaasthi
Hindustan Times

It had to happen. As Sony’s hit non-fiction show, Crime Patrol (CP) and innumerable other crime shows on the news channels suck up the TRPs, other channels have leapt on to the true crime bandwagon.

Channel V has been airing Balaji’s Gumraah, a weekly show on teen crime, since March and Life OK launched the daily Savdhan India (SI) only last week. All these shows recreate real life cases of crime, ranging from such heinous acts as murders, rapes and kidnapping to marginally less offensive cases as drunken driving and juvenile drug supplying and creating porn videos.

A still from Gumraah

But if news channels are constantly airing shows on true crime, why would entertainment channels need to do the same thing?

“Human beings are voyeuristic in nature, which is why crime shows attract audiences,” says Vikas Bahl, producer of Gumraah. Adds Ajit Thakur, general manager, Life OK, “According to a survey we carried out, crime was one of the top subjects that made headlines.”

There is a difference however in the way news channels and entertainment channels present their crime shows. While the news channel shows tend to be gory and sensational, the shows on the entertainment channels attempt to focus on social issues, helping viewers to avoid crime by example.

“In Gumraah, the host, Karan Kundra, connects with the youth when he shares his own stories of driving drunk or viewing porn,” says Bahl. “Entire families watch our show as they want their kids to know the realities of life – be it peer pressure, bullying, sex, drugs etc., without sounding preachy.”

Leaving the sensationalism out is something Sony’s CP learned the hard way. Earlier seasons of CP were not as successful as this one because they focused too much on the actual crime and the way it was solved. In this season, however, the focus is more on the victim and the criminal’s motivations. And every episode ends with a solution for crime prevention from the show’s host, Anup Soni.

“While news channels sensationalise a crime, we avoid it,” explains Neeraj Naik, CP’s creative head. “We delve into the background of the victim and the accused and what drove them to this point.”

The idea, adds Thakur, is to show people what to do and what to avoid. “Crime shows on news channels deal with the establishment, but SI discusses what communities can do to prevent crime. Crime is a small part of SI, but a reality in our lives.”

Know Your Stars: Deepika Singh

Any memorable interactions with your fans? It is amusing and interesting to see that most fans believe that the characters we play are real. They think of me as Sandhya from Diya Aur Baati Hum. They are surprised to see me laughing and talking openly in public as Sandhya is supposed to be a reserved person. When they meet me, they ask if I am fine or what my goals are and how I will tackle my stern mother in law!

Do you experience an identity crisis because people know you by your character’s name? No. The star is my character Sandhya who is loved by all. Deepika is just a normal girl who is struggling every day to give her best on the show. I learn something new every day. One must always be willing to learn.

Who gives you the toughest competition? Before we became the number one show on the channel, we were working hard to reach the top. Now that we are there, we are competing with our own selves and working hard to stay on top. It is painful to become number 2 or 3.

Your biggest achievement? Getting the Star Parivaar Award for the Best Bahu. It was my first and I was super excited. It was a dream come true.

Your worst scene?I am uncomfortable doing romantic scenes. I get nervous and worked up.

A show you have heard a lot about? Saathiya Saath Nibana and Balika Vadhu.

Who’s the most happening actor on TV currently? Barun Sobti aka Arnav from Iss Pyaar Ko Kya Naam Doon.

What’s new on tv


Inside Indian Television


May 4, 8 pm


Discovery Channel

In the last two decades, television has witnessed changes, deeply affecting the culture and outlook of India. Inside Indian Television takes a look at the meteoric rise of television and how it has transformed the Indian entertainment landscape. Shah Rukh Khan, Ekta Kapoor, Kamal Haasan and others will give viewers an insider’s look at the television industry.

First Published: May 04, 2012 14:01 IST