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Why crime works on TV

What viewers like best about crime shows on entertainment channels is the lessons they can learn.

tv Updated: May 06, 2012 01:27 IST
Kavita Awaasthi
Kavita Awaasthi
Hindustan Times
Crime Patrol,Gumraah,Savdhan India

It had to happen. As Sony’s hit non-fiction show, Crime Patrol and innumerable other crime shows on the news channels suck up the TRPs, other channels have leapt on to the real crime-based shows 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 last week. All these shows recreate real life cases of crime, ranging from heinous acts such as murder, rape and kidnapping to marginally less offensive cases like drunken driving, juvenile drug peddling and creating porn videos. 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.”

However, there is a difference 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, or drugs, without sounding preachy.”

Not resorting to any kind of sensationalism is something TV show Crime Patrol learned the hard way. Earlier seasons of CP were not as successful as the latest one because they focused too much on 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 preventing crime, which is given by the show’s host, actor 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, the accused and what drove them to this point.”

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

Crime Shows on Tube
Crime Patrol (Sony)
Gumraah (Channel V)
Savdhan India (Life OK)
Vardaat (Aajtak)
Sansani (Star News)

First Published: May 05, 2012 18:34 IST