In July, when actor Barun Sobti brought to television screens the third installment of Is Pyaar Ko Kya Naam Doon, the show that catapulted him to fame six years ago, it was believed nothing could go wrong. After all, here was a show, easily among the iconic romances on Indian television, with a fanbase so loyal that while the show’s team moved on to other projects after it shut shop in 2012, the fans stuck to only one thing, a demand for its comeback.
In less than five months of its premiere, Is Pyaar Ko Kya Naam Doon 3 has gone off air. It is, of course, a rude shock to the fans, but Sobti seems to have taken the show’s failure well. In an interview to indianexpress.com, the actor, whose Bollywood career finally looks like its on track with the unanimous acclaim that his latest film Tu Hai Mera Sunday has received, weighs on in the failure of IPK 3 (as it’s lovingly called) and why Indian television desperately needs an overhaul.
“These are the failures that you have to see to keep yourself grounded because there is a time when you start thinking everything is right. I like these kind of failures. They tell you the reality, that sometimes things work out and sometimes they don’t. There’s no rocket science in this,” says Sobti, almost assuring you that he is not as affected by the show’s poor performance as one would believe, given it was his “big” comeback to television after five years.
But what does affect and disturb the actor is the sad state of Indian television. Sobti says that the shows are so driven by TRPs that the makers and the channels are living in a constant fear of what will work with the audience, and that ultimately hampers the quality of their products.
“It’s very sad. The fact is it is so TRP-driven, I can’t even tell how you how bad the situation is. It is really bad. It is so motivated by TRPs that it has instilled fear (in the makers’ mind). Creativity can’t exist if there’s fear. Big production houses need to take the lead and churn better content.” Sobti insists that the television industry needs to shift focus to finite shows if it wants to deliver quality entertainment to the audience.
“One or two actors cannot do anything. If I get down to being stubborn, thinking that what I believe is right, I am going to be (perceived) as a tantrum king. But the only solution is holistic. The whole industry has to change its pattern of thinking. The producers have to relax, and for that I think finite shows are very important. If you do five years of same characters, same shows, a writer cannot keep inventing something phenomenally new. That’s why it has to be a start to end finish irrespective of the ratings.”
Talking about the different constraints that interfere with the quality of content on television, Sobti cites example of his own show, as he says, “In fact, IPK 3 was also finite. But then everyone wants to make money, so, they said, ‘Let’s do for a year.’ But even that’s okay because even then it was a start to end show. But we need to look at finite stuff because we need to know what we are getting into. We can’t be writing tracks very week based on the ratings.”
With his reply, it is certain that the actor will only sign finite series, if he chooses to continue his television career. “Of course, that’s the idea. But I haven’t signed anything new right now. I haven’t figured out yet how I want to position my career (whether the TV take a backseat due to career in films). But I think I will go for the best content, irrespective of the medium,” he says, adding that besides acting, it is writing that interests him a lot, and he has been developing a script from sometime now.
“I am writing something. Nothing serious has come out yet, but yes I am writing a script. It should be ready by next year.”