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Monday, July 23, 2018

Talking Point: Import Export

Whether its Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa, Bigg Boss or Indian Idol, most of our reality shows are adaptations of foreign formats. Why don’t we have home-grown ideas on our small screen?

Published: February 21, 2014 12:24:34 am
Whether its Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa, Bigg Boss or Indian Idol, most of our reality shows are adaptations of foreign formats. Whether its Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa, Bigg Boss or Indian Idol, most of our reality shows are adaptations of foreign formats.

Ajay Bhalwankar
Content Head, Hindi GECs, ZEEL

Indian content creators have created many path breaking non-fiction shows in the last 21 years. Zee has devised and designed big and innovative formats such as Antakshari, Sa Re Ga Ma Pa, Dance India Dance and India’s Best Dramebaaz, among others. These shows are completely original and home-grown formats.

Having said that, the problem with Indian content creators is that we don’t document concepts like our western counterparts.

In fact, even our regional channels create a lot of interesting and indigenous concepts but again they aren’t marketed well. When it comes to marketing, promotion and publicity, Indian producers and content creators do not push their products globally. We do not syndicate our content abroad even though it has achieved success in India. Our documentation, discipline and marketing as compared to the West have a lot to adapt to. Knowledge here is passed on from one person to another only verbally. Conventionally, we are more attuned to oral tradition where communication is transmitted verbally from one party to another. For example, Ayurveda as a form of alternative medicine got its due recognition much later because the works were not compiled, documented and standardised appropriately.

But being a content creator myself, I believe it’s only a conjecture that only international format shows work in India and not the indigenous ones. Zee has had a glorious history of successful home-grown formats and we’ll continue the tradition of churning out new formats that will attract viewers worldwide. All said and done, finally a great idea has to work and the content has to entertain people. It doesn’t matter whether it’s Indian or Western. We are open to adapt any format as long as it has the potential to entertain.

Deepak Dhar
MD and CEO, Endemol India

In a country that has three per cent of its population under 15 years-of-age and at the same time has the world’s largest population of adult illiteracy, entertainment becomes a double-edged sword.

Content providers and broadcasters shoulder the responsibility of not only creating quality content, which adheres to the commercial complexities of the business but also with extreme gentleness introduce the audience to a new experience. The chances that the experience is not going to be at par with those shared by a global audience, is an understatement.

To be fair, steps are being taken to change that in a holistic manner. And maybe the changes are tiny, sometimes even insignificant in comparison, but they are changes nevertheless. And in the mean time, both producers and broadcasters need to be given credit for not only identifying international formats, but making them palatable in the most enjoyable of manners.

The current shows are already scooping up the viewer’s attention with adapted and original formats. In the next few years, shows with strong production values and creative content will not only break the mould with new and innovative programming but also broaden the horizon by overcoming the creative barrier and execution challenges. The audiences revel in the unpredictable format and the real emotion brought across through the show. The success of such shows has proved that it works.

We are too dense and diverse a culture to have just one thing represent us in the eyes of the world. This is the reason why we take so long for a particular format to act as an acceptable ambassador. But if given the time, we’ll create something that does justice to our identity. Till then — let’s not view experimentation as necessarily a lack of focus, but in fact, a much needed journey.

Conducted by Ranjib Mazumder

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