2019 was an average year for the television industry. Neither did it see too many highs nor many disappointments. While reality television found more takers, daily serials once again continued to top ratings chart.
The best thing that happened for TV audience in 2019 was the comeback of The Kapil Sharma Show. The comedian, who went through a low phase in 2016, kickstarted his new show in the last week of 2018. Salman Khan’s banner SKTV co-produced the show, and he even featured in the opening episode. From then, The Kapil Sharma Show has managed to tickle the funny bone of the audience every week, and continues to go strong, having completed more than 100 episodes. Talking about comebacks, we cannot forget popular actors like Mohnish Bahl, Ashish Choudhry, Karan Singh Grover, Shweta Tiwari, Paridhi Sharma and Aamna Sharif who returned to the small screen.
In 2019, reality shows like Khatron Ke Khiladi, Kaun Banega Crorepati, Indian Idol, Super Dancer, Superstar Singers, Masterchef India, Dance Plus, Bigg Boss, Nach Baliye 9, Dance India Dance, Dilli Darlings, The Voice, Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Li’l Champs and Khatra Khatra Khatra kept the audience entertained. Even youth channel MTV benefitted with new seasons of its various series – Roadies, Splitsvilla and Love School. They even introduced a new show Hustle. After a few misses, 2019 also saw spin-offs finally being accepted by the audience. After Kundali Bhagya and Yeh Rishtey Hai Pyaar Ke made record-breaking numbers, Yeh Hai Mohabbatein’s spin-off Ye Hai Chahatein was recently launched.
Another 2019 highlight was how many television actors managed to make their mark in Bollywood and the digital medium. While Mrunal Thakur and Mouni Roy were seen in bigger projects, Mohit Raina made an impressive debut with Uri: The Surgical Strike, Ankita Lokhande in Manikarnika, Priyansh Jora in Khandaani Shafakhana and Nandish Sandhu in Super 30. As the year was about to end, young actor Vishal Jethwa surprised all with his portrayal of a rapist-serial killer in Mardaani 2. As for the webspace, Divyanka Tripathi and Shweta Tiwari were seen shedding their bahu avatar to don glamorous roles in Coldd Lassi and Chicken Masala and Hum Tum Aur Them, respectively. Shabir Ahluwalia also attempted something new with Fixerr. Not surprisingly, all these shows were on ALTBalaji, the digital wing of TV Czarina Ekta Kapoor’s Balaji Telefilms.
While the nation celebrated the growth of the television industry, a reality check soon came calling. After Hina Khan walked the ramp at Cannes earlier this year, senior journalist Jitesh Pillai’s distasteful comment on how Cannes has become like a TV studio, went on to reveal people’s prejudice against the small screen. Many stars opened up on how casting directors and filmmakers still do not take TV actors seriously. Divyanka Tripathi, one of the highest-paid actors on television, in an earlier interview, mentioned, “There is still an apprehension among filmmakers to take small screen actors. Maybe they feel we’ll overact or don’t understand their working style. But that’s not the case. We are trained to work under pressure and work a lot.” Well, we hope 2020 brings about a change in this trend.
The new change in TRAI also affected television viewing pattern, which in turn made channels cautious. Not wanting to take a risk, GECs took many shows off the air. While unconventional serials Sarvagun Sampanna and Bahu Begum could not rake in numbers, big-budget shows like Manikarnika: Jhansi Ki Rani and Namah were pulled off air quickly to save makers from a financial crunch. Also, what was rather disappointing last year was to see makers launching new seasons of successful franchises in the hope of recreating its popularity. But most hopes died an early death when Naagin and Sanjivani’s new seasons could not impress the audience much.
Supernatural dramas surprisingly managed to still be a popular genre on the small screen. As much as one can criticise shows like Nazar, Jaadu Hai Jinn Ka and Vish, the numbers have a different tale to tell. And while a section of the audience enjoys these supernatural tales, a lot have moved towards realistic web shows.
And if naagins, chudails, dayans and aghoris are an easy way to get numbers for serials, reality shows are definitely thriving on controversies and tear-jerk moments. From Neha Kakkar getting emotional on contestants’ struggles and KBC highlighting sob stories of contestants to Bigg Boss 13 being all about fights and abuses, drama is served in dollops. Nach Baliye 9 even relaunched the format in 2019 by opening its door to former couples. And as expected, the contestants’ ugly past became a spectacle on national television.
Here’s hoping television manages to break stereotypes and attempts newer concepts in the new decade.
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