Majority of TV shows are old wine in new bottles

MUMBAI: Nilanjana Purkayasstha has been in the television industry for over two decades now and has worked as a freelance writer, channel manager and is now a screenwriter, producer and storyteller. His first production job was Chandragupta Maurya for NDTV Imagine. Today, Nilanjana runs his production house Invictus T Mediaworks and has produced good content for TV, film, short video and web formats. His latest show Chickoo Ki Mummy Durr Ke was well received. Previously, she wrote shows like Maharana Pratap and Chakravartin Ashoka Samrat and produces shows like Peshwa Bajirao, Kulfi Kumar Bajewala. She explains if the industry has evolved over the years if saas-bahu is still successful if progressive shows are made and more in this interview:

What changes have you noticed in the entertainment industry over the years?
Nothing has really changed in the way the shows are done. The processes remain the same, the conditions remain the same. On the contrary, conditions have worsened due to shrinking budgets. The only big change I’ve seen is that many channels have become more reliant on research over the past 10-12 years, rather than relying on creative conviction or instinct. Whether it was for the best or not is a matter of opinion. The TRP measurement systems have also changed in the meantime, so it will be like comparing oranges to apples.

Do you think the content on television has evolved significantly?
Does he have? I see the same stories and plots on most shows, something I’ve seen for 21 years. I don’t think there has been any real evolution. Only the packaging has changed. The majority of TV shows are old wine in new bottles.

Many have said that the era of saas-bahu is over. The content is more progressive and realistic these days. Comment.

What exactly is the drama of Saas-Bahu? Family drama and marriage drama… The only progressive show currently on television is Anupamaa. But, even on a progressive show like Anupamaa, saas is generally against bahu. Is not it ? Even in Anupamaa, the basic premise of the show when it started out as two women arguing over a man, which is the premise of most shows. The ambitions of women are expressed lip service in some shows, but the drama always concerns the woman who fights for a place in the heart of the man and in his family. Forced marriages, women fighting with each other, women without power or support, working women presented as vamps… all of that is still there. Anupama is relatively progressive, but it’s just a show. As far as realism is concerned, except for very few shows, there is no realism. Housewives wielding weapons, fighting terrorists, daayans… where is the realism?

What two trends have you noticed in the television industry?

There is only one trend in Hindi TV: when a show is successful, many try to do more. Some work, some don’t. On TV, there are no trends, there are only seasonal flavors.

We have been through a pandemic and it has changed the way we work. What other changes do you think we should incorporate in regards to daily soaps?

We need to change the way we work. Ever since the daily soaps started, people have been working under great stress to meet deadlines. Now that the dailies become 6 days a week and budgets are shrinking, the pressure is even greater. During the pandemic, people fled the state to broadcast episodes – endangering their own health and staying away from their families. I realize that we are in a business and that no one is doing business to suffer losses. However, due to shrinking budgets and increasing pressure to deliver more episodes, maha episodes, to deliver more TRP, working conditions are causing loss of health, both mental and physical, for everyone who works in front of and behind the camera. Accidents due to lack of sleep, heart attacks, nervous breakdowns plague our industry, and no one is talking about it. There is a lack of will to address this… collectively, which needs to change.

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