There is a very thin line between reinvention and rehash on Indian television. Somya Lakhani gives the lowdown on how old hosts,shows and concepts continue to be new
Return of the icons
On Indian TV,popular hosts never say goodbye. Just like Amitabh Bachchan on Kaun Banega Crorepati,Karan Johar on Koffee with Karan and Cyrus Broacha on MTV Bakra,they come back after a break. These three shows were instant hits when they made their debuts. In 2000,the first season of KBC broke all TRP records. Star Plus was ahead in the race and Bachchans career received a fresh lease of life. After a not-so-great second season and a flop KBC 3 with Shah Rukh Khan,Bachchan is once again making waves on its fourth season on Sony TV. With this,Sony is back in the game beating Colors. Similarly,when Johar began hosting Koffee with Karan on Star World,it did extremely well despite the language barrier. His wit,probing nature and friendship with each star worked for the show. Two seasons later,it went off air and no one knew if it was ever going to return. In the meantime,other English GEC channels bucked up and the chat show became a distant memory. Koffee with Karan became the signature show of Star World. But once we ended the two seasons,we were not immediately thinking of bringing it back, says Uday Shankar,CEO,Star India. Now,after a three-year gap,Johar is making a comeback with more gossip and stars.
After that phase of daily soaps celebrating their tenth anniversaries,comes a fresh change seasons. The concept of seasons gives both the audience and the actors a break. It also helps the channels tweak an already popular content and introduce it in the TRP race afresh. Shows in the West such as Gossip Girl and Entourage return with a new season,characters and storylines after a gap. Indian channels and production houses too are now following suit. The idea of seasons for fiction is slowly catching up. College drama Miley Jab Hum Tum on Star One has returned with a second season with four new characters and a two-year leap. Last years successful show Kitani Mohabbat Hai on Imagine too is ready for a comeback with a twist the storyline is different but the lead couple remains the same. Kitani Mohabbat Hai became a brand for Imagine. This season,we are creating something very different while tapping the buzz around it. The names of the lead couple and the title track are the only things that we have retained from the first season, says Saurabh Tewari,head of programming,fiction,Imagine.
There was a time when Indian fiction shows used to be copies of foreign shows and movies. Karishma ka Karishma was a copy of The Small Wonder,Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahi was the Indian version of Ugly Betty and Pyaar Vyaar and All That was so much like the teenage-drama Dawsons Creek. Slowly,saas-bahu,reality shows and social issue-based shows took over. This year,however,the inspiration formula is back. Ekta Kapoors show Pyaar Kii Yeh Ek Kahani on Star One is based on the extremely popular book and film series Twilight. Saas Bina Sasural recently made its debut on Sony TV. This immediately reminds the viewers of the hit comedy film Satte pe Satta. However,producer Vipul Shah refutes this. The show is not based on the film. It is set in a different period and the characters are very believable, he says. American sitcom,Friends has such a huge fan following that an Indian version was well-anticipated. Channel Vs youth-oriented weekly soap Roomies is the story of five college friends living together in Mumbai and their take on life. I wanted Roomies to be given the same creative treatment as Gossip Girl which obviously did not work out. We had no intentions of making it like Friends. If people are comparing it to that cult show,then it feels great, says Sheetal Sudhir,V-P and Head of Content,Channel V.