Judging by international standards and looked at objectively, the quality of shows on Indian TV is abysmal in terms of story, acting and production values. This does not mean there have not been great shows over the years, but the strike percentage has been low. One would have thought that the proliferation of channels on cable TV and OTT platforms would have generated the kind of competition that would lead to improvement in quality, but that has not been the case. One reason, undoubtedly, has been the undiscerning nature of advertising, and cooked up TRPs. Even internet programmes have fake followings.
Perhaps the so-called competition actually does not exist and shows are more or less in the hands of just a few companies. Earlier, Pakistani plays used to enjoy enormous popularity because of their excellent writing and rootedness in the realities of everyday life. Now, even dubbed shows from Turkey, South Korea are finding popularity. Quite obviously, the highly paid executives of the entertainment companies in India are not doing their job properly. This is also reflected in the quality of mainstream productions from Bollywood, which match their lack of imagination with the disproportionately high level of smugness.
It is not that there is a lack of creativity in society. One needs only to look at the work done by common people on platforms like the now banned Tik-Tok to get a glimpse of what is actually possible. However, the professional talent spotters seem blind to this and are happy to mostly select from within Bollywood’s confines in Mumbai. Or, maybe they are too lazy because there do not seem to be consequences for failure. Also, anybody wishing to ‘make it’ needs to go through the excruciating exercise of slogging it out in Mumbai before getting a chance.
It is in this context that other production centres be developed that are more open to new talent and less expensive overall. Just as Mumbai took up the mantle from earlier centres in erstwhile Calcutta and Lahore, there is need for producers to move closer to where the talent is emerging. It may be recalled how much of an impact Ramoji Rao had made with his film city in Hyderabad. Hopefully, a similar set-up being planned in UP will have an equally powerful impact in the realm of Hindi productions. For the time being, however, Indians will have to live with the tired and struggling shows like Bigg Boss and the Kapil Sharma farce.