comedy shows take back seat on TV

The once popular sitcom has taken a backseat on the tube. But with Zee TV launching Bh Se Bhade last month,will the rest follow suit?

Written by Onkar Kulkarni | Mumbai | Published on:November 8, 2013 5:44 pm

The rise of daily soaps on television was just a trend seen in 2000,which was supposed to die down in two years,instead it continued for over 10 plus years. The success of all regressive serials have put a road-block to the development of content on Indian television

— Shekhar Suman,actor

Launching Bh Se Bhade was akin to taking a risk. There are three critical things in a sitcom — a good writer,great cast and an amazing director-producer. If all these things match up,then you are bound to get a good show. Bh Se Bhade has all things mentioned above.

— Ajay Bhalwankar,Zee Content Head

“Ek ho gaye hum aur tum…humma humma,” sang Sweety (Rakhi Tandon) as she rushed to open the door on Zee TV’s popular show Hum Paanch. Or the self-proclaimed intelligent Praful (Rajeev Mehta) explaining to his wife Hansa (Supriya Pathak) the meaning of certain English terms on Star Plus’s Khichdi. These are some unforgettable images from popular sitcoms of yore. Gone are the days when sitcoms like Dekh Bhai Dekh and Sarabhai Vs Sarabhai ruled the GECs,they have now been eclipsed by daily soaps,reality series and stand-up comedies.

Says Saurabh Tewari,former channel head of Imagine TV,who is now producing Madhubala – Ek Ishq Ek Junoon for Colors,“There was a time when special format shows like Rishtey,Gubbare or situational comedies aired in the weekend space of Friday-Sunday,while the daily soaps aired between Monday-Thursday. The slot for dailies then got extended to Monday-Friday. Slowly and steadily they even captured the Saturday slot to telecast the special maha episodes of these dailies,leaving no space for special category programmes.”

Adding to Tewari’s observation,J.D. Majethia,who produced some of Indian television’s successful sitcoms like Sarabhai vs Sarabhai and Khichdi,says,“With Friday and Saturday being eaten up by dailies,Sunday was the only space available for sitcoms. Unfortunately,producers did not find the slot viable as they’d have to contend with tough competition from television premieres of star studded films on that day.” This opened up a space for reality shows to step in. “With star studded reality shows on weekends,channels were now able to compete with film premieres,leading to sitcoms being edged out completely.”

Since Indian television mostly plays it safe,every channel took to daily soaps,except for one. One channel took full advantage of sitcoms disappearing from GECs,and that’s SAB TV. “The audience got brainwashed with the entry of SAB TV. People began to believe that agar daily,drama,soaps dekhna hai toh tune in to GECs,but for comedy,one had to tune in to only one channel — and that’s SAB TV,” explains Tewari.

At one point of time shows like Shriman Shrimati and Hum Sab Ek Hai topped the TRP list. Such shows were loved by the entire family audience and also offered repeat value. Yet it lost its hold over the audience when television content largely became women-centric,making way for soap operas in the 2000s.

Shekhar Suman,who has acted in one of the most popular sitcoms,Dekh Bhai Dekh feels that Indian television is going through a phase. Unfortunately,he feels the …continued »

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