The visibility of television as a mass medium and its perceived impact on audience always generates passionate debate about the role of public service broadcasting in any country. Whether it is the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) in the USA, BBC in the UK, ABC in Australia, or the Doordarshan in India, these public service broadcasters have an important role to play in modernizing the minds of the youth in their countries.
Today, young Indian audiences have a wide variety of programs to choose from on both the Indian channels and foreign channels. They can watch numerous current affairs programs as well as Indian and Foreign serials. Therefore, to find out how television viewers in India perceive Indian serials current performance, I carried out an audience survey in Kolkata among the young generation. The survey included questions about the television industry as a whole: Are viewers satisfied with Hindi serials shown in India at present? Are they satisfied with Indian channels performance at present? If television as a medium has gained people’s confidence as a source of credible news and information sorely lacking before private channels came into perspective? The survey also asked whether Hindi soap operas shown on television sufficiently provided in-depth information to those who may not have a formal education among the youth.
Those days are long gone when a young Indian boy would switch on the television sets to watch a ‘Malgudi Days’ or a ‘Flop Show by Jaspal Bhatti’ or even a particular ‘Shaktimaan’. Yes, India has gone forward in every sense of the word. The days of ‘Byomkesh Bakshi’ and ‘Wagle ki duniya’ are over. The Indian youth has developed a new taste with the growing media in the modern world.
The Internet took the world and particularly India by surprise when it was fully launched by the advent of the 21st century. The growing media in the world was exposed through the internet and mediums of communication improved vastly with the help of the internet. Indian youth was now aware of what was happening in different parts of the world very keenly. The modern Indian youth started taking note of the vast improvement in quality of Television series in the United States of America and the United Kingdom.
The reason for the shift of interest wasn’t hard to determine. Indian television series did not improve on quality and subject matter even after decades. The same old family drama was being portrayed on every serial and on every channel. The youth have this tendency that they aren’t patient as their parents or elders have been throughout their years. The shift was bound to happen! When they got to know about the quality and content of foreign serials, they made it clear that it was better watching good stuffs rather than watching the same old soap opera on Indian channels.
A very major up haul took place among the Indian youth when Star World, AXN, HBO, Zee Café and various other channels started showing what the modern Indian youth had been missing. They started showing foreign serials which took the Indian youth by surprise and they were hooked to it. Thereby making way for a new generation, a generation which chooses its option carefully and sincerely, and the options are foreign serials.
CULTURAL IMPACT OF TELEVISION ON INDIAN YOUTH
Indeed like any other mass media, Television also has cultural repercussions on its viewers. Culture is defined as a way of life an individual leads in society. Culture is essential for socialization and it is a tool for socialization. However there is no uniform definition of culture as it varies from individual to individual and state to state. Culture is the sum of the available descriptions through which societies make sense of and reflect their common experience.
In olden times culture was taught by traditional institutions like family and peer groups, now mass media has evolved as self christened cultural inducers with their far reach and popularity. Amongst the mass media, television plays a complicit role in bringing about socio-cultural change. Many studies conducted in behavioral sciences scientifically proved that television has an impact on its viewers especially on young adults. If the advancement in telecommunication technology paved way for television boom, globalization absolutely has redefined the parameters of culture across the globe.
Indians too embraced the winds of cultural change in tandem, with an inimitable ado. Young people across the socio-economic spectrum felt that their lives would be different from their parents to some degree, involving technological development, changes in occupation, increased mobility and also in terms of thinking.
As the penetration of cable and satellite television channels increased in India, there was clamour from different corners to regulate the content of television as it posed a threat to local culture. Television became a medium of communication with power impact on students, particularly young adults. They are stimulated by the imaginary world of television. AC Neilson Report says that college student’s watch an average 24.3 hours of television per week. That is twice the amount of time the average full time student sits in class. Another source finds an average 3.41 hours a day which is an hour less than the national average for television consumption, but not very heartening. College students favour nighttime television from 8pm to 1am.
The influence of western culture can be traced from the attitudes and behaviour of young adults. This varies from food habits to sexual orientation. The emergence of music channels in the line of MTV has created significant changes in youth’s language and their music preferences. Studies point out that the more exposed, more influenced.
According to social scientist Anajali Monteiro, Television has contributed to the culture of packaging oneself. This comes in the form of beauty contests constituting national pride, middle class girls coming in to the profession as VJ’s modeling being considered respectable. Television commercials play role in consumer behaviour and also their culture. This can be seen from the youth’s especially college student’s attraction towards cell phones, apparels and food items, such as burgers and pizza. AC Neilson survey research on the effects of television commercials reports that audience’s relationship with commercials was helping to create a secular kind of world where consumption patterns are shared.
Soap operas, movies and now days, the reality shows made the youth increasingly aware of fashion and trends. A study conducted by Page and Crawely among middle class Gujarati speaking students revealed that boys expressed a preference for news, sport and quizzes, while girls favoured mythological and Hindi serials. However the girls were openly enthusiastic about foreign serials too which showed fashion lifestyle and they started imitating hairstyle, shoes and clothes. There have been numerous reports about increased contents of premarital extra-marital affairs in Indian Television programmmes. At present at least two among the top five soap operas in Hindi as well as regional channels deal with the issue of premarital and extra-marital sex. Heavy viewing of these television programmes leads to the acceptance of sexual norms like dating. Thus umpteen studies pertaining to various cultural parameters have proved that Television has a role in shaping the youth culture.
DOORDARSHAN – A CALL FOR CHANGE
After the demise of British rule in the Indian sub continent, Indian politicians and people whole-heartedly embraced ideals of socialism. Hence, after Independence in 1947 most of the basic industries were set up as public sectors. Since the country already had a flourishing print media that was working on the principle of “free speech and free expression for all” no need was felt to develop broadcast media at the time. Therefore, it was almost by accident rather than through planning that television was introduced in India in September 1959. The multinational company Philips had been exhibiting some television equipment at an industrial expo in New Delhi. The company gifted the closed-circuit television equipment to the government at the end of the exhibition.
This is when the Indian government decided to experiment with television as a development communication tool. In the 1970s and 1980s, although Doordarshan continued to expand its coverage across the country, the public service broadcaster remained torn between its role as a catalyst for social change and as a tool for government publicity. Whereas on the political front, the imposition of a State of Emergency by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi placed Doordarshan at government’s disposal. Indira Gandhi’s government suspended many democratic rights and started using both AIR and Doordarshan to publicize government policies.
However, realising the potential power of television as a communication tool, the government began to adopt policies to popularize television viewing in India. This skewed Doordarshan’s focus from development to commercialization. In 1976 Doordarshan started broadcasting imported programs and accepting advertisements to support the purchase of these programs.
1982 was a significant year in the history of television in India — the Government allowed thousands of colour TV sets to be imported into the country to coincide with the broadcast of Asian Games in New Delhi. There were also sponsored entertainment programs such as Hum Log and Buniyaad that added to its efforts to attract viewers in mid 1980s. Later serials based on Indian epics Ramayana and Mahabharata had a very successful run. But on the news front, viewers did not trust Doordarshan.
The primary purpose of television in India is development through education, information and enlightenment, to improve the quality of life of the largest masses of the people; to bring communities and societies, regions and the states together as one nation through mutual awareness and sympathy while preserving, consolidating and enriching their unique ways of life, cultures, customs and traditions. The secondary purpose is entertainment per se or show-business.
On the issue of credibility the report advocated that television in India needed an ‘openness’ to gain credibility. Such openness, it was considered, would not put either the government, or the ruling party or the nation in jeopardy. Squarely and properly placed in intelligent and honest context it would promote understanding and confidence and lead to greater and discriminative appreciation of issues by the people. In the long run, it would strengthen the nation.
It was stated that Doordarshan needed to establish a separate autonomous operation for producing television news. It should have freedom of appraising news values and judgment, news selection and content, emphasis in presentation, and freedom of choice in summarising physical and human resources in making up a news programme. It should have a clear independent professional chain of command free from bureaucratic, political or other outside intervention and interference.
In a survey in 2007, it was found that 90 per cent of the respondents preferred Hindi film based entertainment programs, whereas 60 per cent appreciated educational and development programs. The survey of 1170 respondents showed that although 76 per cent were in favour of commercial advertising on television, 60 per cent of the low-income households, 75 per cent of viewers in lower castes and 60 per cent of non-Hindi speaking viewers felt that the “problems and difficulties of their daily life were not adequately projected” by Doordarshan. The fact that Doordarshan’s performance did not receive many accolades was compounded by the reality that the people of India could not switch channels.
Due to its charter or due to the political and bureaucratic interference from the government, Doordarshan’s performance has remained unsatisfactory and it is often referred to as “the government channel” and as being “dull and boring”.
EMERGING TREND IN INDIAN BROADCASTING
Indian television industry witnessed phenomenal changes after globalization. Until 2001, Indian audiences received a controlled, development oriented and propaganda induced television programming. Since 2009 audiences are be subjected to a cacophony of nearly 450 commercially driven broadcasts, which caters to around 500 million viewers in India compared to 30 million in 2004-05 (Indiantelevision.com). The monopoly of Doordarshan ended in early 90’s, but it remained as the broadcaster with highest number of viewers until the early half of the new century in urban areas. A survey conducted by AC Neilson shows that the Doordarshan’s national channel DD1 commanded the highest audience, followed by DD2. But younger and educated category of respondents was inclined towards Zee TV, followed by Sony and Star.
Soon Doordarshan’s revenue fell to a point where Zee TV had almost overtaken it, and Sony entertainment Television became the second revenue earner. Liberal policies of government in foreign direct investment (FDI) eased cross-broader media-buying that increased considerably. In 1998 there were about 40 channels. By the year 2005, up to 100 channels were theoretically available to South Asian audiences, with digital broadcasting the number of channels increased to 200 or more.
During the new millennium, the monopoly of state owned VSNL in providing Internet ended and service providers like Indus group and Siti cable entered the market as Internet service providers. This move plunged the Indian audiences into an information superhighway – a new phase of globalization.
The idea of DTH was mooted way back, but government of India rejected the proposal citing national security reasons and cultural invasion. The government blocked Star’s big projects of providing free to air service via DTH, eventually abandoned. The fear of monopoly and the difficulty in regulating the DTH operators was a central issue for the long delayed Broadcasting Bill. Finally DTH broadcasting was allowed in 2006. It was an innocuous and revolutionary moment that witnessed a communication multimedia coalesce.
Direct To Home (DTH) helps the broadcasters keeping direct touch with consumers thus eliminating the cable operators. DTH revolution along with live streaming of TV channels changed the face of broadcasting industry soon after its inception. DTH was a boon to rural people who resided in hilly and remote villages. At same time urban audiences in metros like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Bangalore, who frequently shift their rented house have welcomed DTH with heaps and bounds, as they can shift the small antenna while shifting their house and on top of that online recharge procedure helps them to recharge and access TV whenever they want.
International players like STAR expanded its service in India during this period by acquiring stakes in local and regional channels. In order to woo the advertisers and viewers, broadcasters implemented new methodology in their programming which in turn switched a qualitative and quantitative acceleration in the programme structure of Indian satellite channels. During this period Indianised edition of western programmes were increased. As per the latest data Indian media and entertainment industry is growing at good pace and is estimated as US$ 16.2 billion in 2013. Further the industry will grow at US$ 28.1 billion by 2015.
COMPETITION FROM THE SKIES AND CABLE NETWORK
The impact of foreign television in India has been two-fold, viewers — at least those living in urban areas — can watch more than 40 channels and the quality of television programs has improved. Young people subscribing to a cable service can now choose anywhere between 40 to 50 channels to watch. As an alternative to three half-hour news programs in three different languages, they can choose between the two 24-hour entertainment channels (AXN and HBO) and up to 20 news and current affairs programs on various cable and foreign television channels every day.
After the globalization of mass media, invasion from the skies by foreign television networks took place. Doordarshan too has expanded its service from 2 to 18 channels with a claimed viewership of 448 million at the beginning of the new millennium. According to a survey cited by AC Neilson, there were about 3500 cable TV networks in India in May 2010. Another advertising group estimated that more than 330,000 households in four metros of Bombay, Delhi, Calcutta and Madras had cable connections with a total audience of 1.6 million. Legally, there is no prohibition on receiving a TV signal in India. Therefore, other television channels and networks owned by Indians or foreigners have been able to beam their programs into the country from the skies using satellite technology without violating any Indian law or regulation.
The success of cable operation was due to a number of reasons: on one hand the urban middle class had spare time and resources to seek more entertainment; on the other, “the government channel” remained slow in satisfying that demand. Being hooked up to a cable network became fashionable among the hotels that catered to tourists’ needs. However, the television scene changed sensationally after the advent of STAR TV and subsequently the launch of other foreign and local channels. TV homes have more than doubled in the last seven years from about 30.8 million in 2004 to 65 million by 2014. At the same time, according to the Indian readership survey, cable and satellite homes have grown from 1.28 million in June 2005, 9.30 million in June 2009, to 11 million in December 2013.
In a survey conducted by AC Neilson, who measured the impact of foreign serials on cable television and VCR viewership, interviewed 250 people including 200 cable and satellite TV subscribers from Kolkata. Many (62 per cent) felt that Indian serials were wasting public money on “unimaginative”, “absurd” and “silly” programs. The cable subscribers who participated in the study considered Indian channels as “more than television” but as “more of television”. Young Viewers prefer watching Star World more than Star Plus. AC Neilson survey also found that BBC Entertainment was the most popular channel because of the quality of its programs.
Here we analyze five of the most viewed foreign serials and find out the reason as to why they are such a hit among the modern young Indian.
Format: Serial Drama
Created by: Vince Gilligan
Country of origin: United States
Breaking Bad is an American crime drama television series that originally aired on the network AMC for five seasons, from January 20, 2008, to September 29, 2013. The show’s main character is Walter White, a struggling high school chemistry teacher who is diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer at the beginning of the series. He turns to a life of crime, producing and selling methamphetamine, in order to secure his family’s financial future before he dies, teaming with his former student, Jesse Pinkman. The show, created and produced by Vince Gilligan, was set and produced in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Breaking Bad is widely regarded as one of the greatest American television series of all time. By its end, the series was among the most-watched cable shows on American television. The show received numerous awards and entered the Guinness Book of Records as the highest rated show of all time. So, what makes Breaking Bad different from a Crime Thriller of a Hindi serial?
The reasons aren’t tough to notice. Breaking Bad is visually stunning. No other show on television places so much emphasis on visuals and color as Breaking Bad. The show has raised the bar for cinematography on television: the way it uses light and color make me look at everything else differently.
The Writing – Breaking Bad has made me listen to other shows differently. The dialogue is always tight. Nobody acts out of character. You never get a sense that an episode is there just to fix a past continuity error. There’s never a moment that seems like the writers had run out of interesting things to say.
And finally, the most important aspect of Breaking Bad, which makes it such a hit among Indian audience, is the Acting – Bryan Cranston plays Walter White with extraordinary subtlety. He’s a shape-shifter, awkward husband to thuggish drug dealer. Aaron Paul’s Jesse Pinkman is far more complicated than he lets on.
Created by: David Crane, Marta Kauffman
Country of origin: United States
F.R.I.E.N.D.S is an American television sitcom created by David Crane and Marta Kauffman, which originally aired on NBC from September 22, 1994, to May 6, 2004. It lasted ten seasons and revolved around a circle of friends living in Manhattan.
Friends received positive reviews throughout its run, becoming one of the most popular sitcoms of all time. The series was nominated for 62 Primetime Emmy Awards, winning the Outstanding Comedy Series award in 2002 for its eighth season. The show ranked no. 21 on TV Guide’s 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time and no. 7 on Empire Magazine’s The 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time.
The show led the Nielsen ratings with its eighth season and finished among the top five every year from 1995 to 2004.
There is no denying the fact that FRIENDS is one of the best comedy shows the Television world has ever seen. Revolving around six friends and their lives, FRIENDS took the youngsters by their strides and made them believe in a virtual world. There are a number of factors as to what make FRIENDS, the no. 1 comedy show on television.
First and foremost, the Acting. FRIENDS had an ensemble cast to its credit, but the acting by all six of the main cast was up to the mark always. David Schwimmer and Jennifer Aniston are one of the most sought after actors in modern world. So are Lisa Kudrow, Matthew Perry and Courtney Cox. There is no denying the fact that FRIENDS attained a cult status, and the reason was because of the marvelous acting by its cast.
Another reason why FRIENDS is such a hit is because of the Humour quotient it has. Being a comedy series, the most important thing it should have is Humour, and FRIENDS was always on the top when Jokes were concerned. This led to the series attaining immortality among its young viewers.
HOUSE OF CARDS
Genre: Drama, Political Thriller
Created by: Beau Willimon
Country of origin: United States
House of Cards is an American political drama television series, developed and produced by Beau Willimon. It is an adaptation of a previous BBC mini-series of the same name and is based on the novel by Michael Dobbs. Twenty Six episodes of House of Cards have been released as of 1st June, 2014.
Set in present-day Washington, D.C., House of Cards is the story of Frank Underwood, a Democrat from South Carolina who initiates an elaborate plan to get himself into a position of power. The series is primarily about ruthless pragmatism, manipulation, power and doing bad things for the greater good.
House of Cards received the first major acting award for an online-only web television series when Kevin Spacey won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Drama.
So, what makes House of Cards such a fascinating watch for youngsters throughout the world? The answer is not a tough one. House of Cards is been held and carried forward by the brilliance of actor, Kevin Spacey who at the end of Season 2 becomes the President of United States of America in the series.
Another very important point that I would like to put forward as to why, House of Cards is brilliant in every sense of the word is because of its sophistication. Yes, sophistication. Because the show can often seem so pleased with its own cleverness, it’s easy to overlook how actually artful and well-tailored it is. For a show as propulsive and deviously minded as House of Cards, there’s a surprising amount of artistry on display. The writers have kept the long game ever in mind while taking the occasional moment to savor and consider the weight of the world they’d created.
These are the main things that have been lacking in Indian serials and these are the reasons why they’ve been falling behind when compared to foreign serials. The storyline and the content is repetitive when it comes to Indian series.
Genre: Drama, Police Procedural
Created by: Andrew W. Marlowe
Country of origin: Great Britain
Castle is a British crime drama television series, which premiered on ABC on March 9, 2009. Created by Andrew W. Marlowe, it primarily traces the lives of Richard Castle, a best-selling mystery novelist, and Kate Beckett, an NYPD homicide detective, as they solve various unusual crimes in New York City. Detective Beckett is initially infuriated at the thought of working with a writer and goes to great lengths to keep him out of her way. However, the two soon start developing feelings for each other. The overarching plot of the series focuses on the romance between the two lead characters, as well as the murder of Beckett’s mother.
Now, the reason as to why I’ve mentioned Castle as my case study is because this series is quite similar to a police procedural series run in Indian television, C.I.D. Castle and C.I.D have the same basic story line, but are miles apart from each other when it comes to content and quality. C.I.D is running in Indian channels for the past sixteen years, but has not improved a bit. In fact, the quality of the show has degraded down the years. Castle on the other hand is in its sixth year of production and the story still remains fresh.
The content and the quality of acting is miles ahead of what the Indian viewers are subjected to watch when it comes to C.I.D. The technology is advanced, the camera angles are superb and the CGG (Computer Generated Graphics) are way ahead of Indian ideas. It will take years for Indian serials to match the quality of foreign serials. Hence, the young Indian will always prefer the better show and will always opt for watching Foreign serials over the same old boring Indian soap operas.
Genre: Legal Drama
Created by: Aaron Korsh
Country of origin: United States
Suits is a USA Network drama created by Aaron Korsh that stars Patrick J. Adams as Michael Ross and Gabriel Macht as Harvey Specter. The series is set at Pearson Hardman, a fictitious law firm in New York City. Having recently made senior partner, Harvey must now hire a Harvard-educated lawyer as an associate, as per firm policy. Using his eidetic memory and knowledge of the law, Mike proves to Harvey that he is undoubtedly the best candidate for the position and is subsequently hired, despite having neither gotten a college degree nor attended Harvard. The series focuses on Mike and Harvey as they try cases for the firm while maintaining Mike’s secret that he is not an actual lawyer.
The final series in my case study is a fun to watch, Courtroom Legal Drama which focuses on the lives of two brilliant lawyers in New York city. Now, the reason as to why I have added this series to my case study isn’t hard to determine. Suits is a brilliant series when it comes to Technological up gradation of Foreign serials over Indian serials. The camera technique and the sound mixing in Suits is one of a kind. No Indian serial has in the past reached the level of Suits of when it comes to camera techniques used.
Indian television is lagging behind but the producers, directors and story writers are not taking any efforts to revive it. They are continuing with the same old Saas Bahu drama. This is making the Indian youth restless and he is shifting his priorities and likings to the Foreign serials. The day isn’t far when not even a single young Indian would prefer watching Indian serials.
Thus, after analyzing five of the top Foreign serials we can come to the conclusion that with the advent of foreign serials in the lives of many youngsters throughout the country, the ideas are changing. No Indian youngster prefers watching the same old repetitive drama on television. This will change the outlook of India in the contemporary world.
With the change in quality of shows of television, not only will the human mind develop better but it will also help the youth of today to have a rationale thinking of the right thing in this modern world.
We’ve taken interviews from two experts from the Television industry to get more in depth knowledge of what it is like to be a Television personality and what are the serials they prefer to watch.
Our first expert is, Mrs. Anindita Bose. Mrs. Bose is a Bengali film and television actress. She started her career in television and then moved to the big screen. In 2012 she acted in the film Bhooter Bhabishyat. Anindita recently married noted Bengali film actor, Gourab Chatterjee who is the grandson of the legendary actor, Uttam Kumar.
Me: Hello ma’am. It’s been an honour for me to interview you! My first question to you would be, as a Television artist what are the major difficulties you face in your ‘reel’ life?
Anindita: Well, there is nothing as such difficult when it comes to our real life and ‘reel’ life. I think, I manage it quite well. The important thing to notice here is that when I am in front on the camera, I get in to my character and when I am not facing the camera, I am just myself.
Me: You started your career as a side artist in the Bengali serial, Bou Kotha Kou and now you are doing Bengali movies. How has the journey been for you?
Anindita: To be frank, when I started my career, it was more of a hobby for me to act rather than compulsion. I had never thought that I would go all the way act in Bengali movies. The journey has been fantastic. Loads of ups and down but in the end, god has been kind and I am, where I am.
Me: Getting down to the main topic of my interview, do you watch your serials or movies?
Anindita: Ohh yes, I do! Whenever I give a take, I go down to the camera and watch how it’s been done. And if I feel wrong, I tell the director myself to retake it. It’s very important to watch your own work because it gives an idea to yourself as to how good or bad you’ve been.
Me: What kind of serials do you usually watch when you are at home?
Anindita: I watch all kinds of Television series. Nothing particular! I just browse the television and whatever I get my hands on, I just watch them.
Me: Do you like watching foreign television serials?
Anindita: Yes, I do. I don’t get a lot of free time these days, but whenever I get time, I stumble upon the net and watch the sitcoms. They are quite good actually.
Me: What Television channel do you prefer if you feel like watching foreign serials?
Anindita: There are quite a few channels which show foreign serials these days. I usually prefer watching Star World and Zee Café and sometimes Travel and Living too.
Me: What is your favourite foreign serial?
Anindita: Oh, I love FRIENDS! I was very young, way back in school when I came to know about FRIENDS and I was hooked to it. I used to dream about them and how my life would have been had I been a part of their group.
Me: What do you think is the major difference when it comes to foreign and Hindi/Bengali serials?
Anindita: See, it is very tough to point out the differences. Our serials portray what our audience wants to watch and foreign serials portray what their audiences prefer watching. Yes, we are moving forward and a lot of new technologies are coming into the fray but it will take time to match the foreign serials. I am sure, we would one day!
Me: Where do you see yourself in five years from now? Will you still be doing Bengali television shows and movies or do we see you moving to Mumbai to try out your luck in the Hindi movie industry?
Anindita: As of now, I do not even know where I will be this evening. Let alone the question of five years. But yes, I will always want to move forward in my life. And I will move to Mumbai or anywhere else, if I see a better prospect for my future.
Me: Finally ma’am. Do you think Indian serials lack better story line when it comes to soap operas?
Anindita: No, not at all. As I said, we showcase what our audience wants to see, and the television serials we do are quite well equipped to carry on for the years to come!
Me: Thank you, Mrs. Anindita Bose for sparing your time for us! It was indeed a very enthralling session we had.
Anindita: It’s been my pleasure. I had a great afternoon. Thank you and all the very best for your career ahead. Wish you loads of luck and good wishes.
Our second expert from the television industry is, Mr. Ravi Ojha. Mr. Ojha has been a directed quite a few Bengali and Hindi serials as well as directing a couple of Hindi movies. A pass out of Film and Television Institute, Pune (FTII), Ravi Ojha began his career as an Assistant Director to Aziz Mirza in 1992 and then moved on to directing Hindi serials. In 2004, Ravi Ojha directed ‘Aabar Aashbo Phire’. He is nowadays into directing Bengali serials and also owns a Production House to his name.
Me: Mr. Ravi Ojha Sir, it is a pleasure to have you here. I would like to begin by asking you to describe in one sentence, your life in the entertainment industry?
Ravi: Well, I have had an illustrious career and describing it in one sentence will be quite tough. I will still try, but I would just say that this film industry has given me everything I asked for. I have seen ups and downs in my career. But I’ve never been disheartened because I knew for a fact, that I will make a name for myself, one day or the other.
Me: Being a pass out of FTII, one of the finest film schools in the country. Was it tough for you to get a hold and make a name for yourself in the industry?
Ravi: It was very tough back then. I graduated from FTII way back in the 90’s. and we didn’t have guaranteed placements then. I went on looking for jobs in Bombay and finally managed to get hold of an AD’s job at Aziz Mirza’s movie.
Me: So, your first experience was working as an Assistant Director in Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman. How was the feeling?
Ravi: It was fantastic. Shahrukh Khan wasn’t a star back then and we had to tell him the nitty gritties of the scene. I had directed quite a few short films in college but directing a movie was an all together different experience for me.
Me: As a television serial director, what has been your aim to provide to your viewers?
Ravi: The first thing we keep in our mind is our audience. We direct the serials for them and if they don’t like it then it is termed as a flop show. So, proving them with entertainment is our first and foremost priority.
Me: Do you as a director, watch your own Television series when it goes live to the public?
Ravi: Not actually, because when we shoot a scene. I stay behind the camera and watch it then. Plus, we take a lot of shots and then it goes to the Editing department who edits the show and makes it viewable to the audience. I don’t usually get time to watch it on the channel but I do read the reviews.
Me: What do you have to say about your critics who sometimes praise your works and on some days, undermine your work too?
Ravi: Everyone in life should have a critic. And we should take the critics very seriously, even when they are praising me or even if they are criticizing me. Because they are legends of the industry and they pinpoint you when you’ve gone wrong and you try and amend the mistake the next time.
Me: Sir, foreign serials have made a huge impact on Indian youth. Does that make you nervous that you are losing your audience?
Ravi: It does. As I’ve said, we make the shows for the audience and if they are not watching the show then it’s no use making the serials. Yes, foreign serials have made a huge impact on the minds of youngsters but we will change according their needs too.
Me: What do you think is the reason by this huge shift from Indian serials to foreign serials?
Ravi: It is very tough to actually point out why this change has taken place. But it maybe because the modern youngster prefers to watch the life style
they have been growing up in, and foreign serials are showing that lifestyle to them.
Me: Where do you think are Indian serials faltering when compared to foreign serials?
Ravi: The technological advancement they have is nothing compared to us. Plus, they have better ideas and story writers who are from the modern world and are making better quality of shows which the audience seems to have started liking.
Me: So, you mean to say, that Indian serials do not have good story writers and script writers?
Ravi: No, I didn’t mean that. I am saying that Indian writers are very good but the modern Indian writers have a different thinking to what we have in our thought capacity. And these modern writers are trying to make new variety of Indian shows. See, the latest series by Anil Kapoor for example, ‘24’! I think, 24 was an exceptional Television series and could be well compared to foreign serials.
Me: Your stand out Hindi Television serial?
Ravi: Oh, it has to be Sarabhai vs. Sarabhai. It was a fantastic show with impeccable casting, direction and of course acting. The show should be the best India has ever produced. I also liked the concept of Satyameva Jayate. I think, Aamir Khan has done an exceptional work with the show and it will surely bring a change in the society.
Me: Do you watch foreign serials?
Ravi: I don’t usually, but I did watch few shows of ‘House of Cards’. It was brilliant. Kevin Spacey is a fantastic actor and the way he portrayed his brilliance in the show was mind blowing.
Me: Finally Sir, what can we expect from Indian shows in the years to come. Is the future of Indian television bleak or is it still going to continue with flash and bang?
Ravi: Indian television industry is here to stay. Indian youngsters might have shifted their preference to Foreign serials but I am sure they will come back and when these modern script writers start making new brand of Indian serials, the lost audience will come back.
Me: Thank you Mr. Ravi Ojha for spending your precious time and sharing your valuable thoughts with me.
Ravi: The pleasure is all mine.
So, after the interview with the two experts from the Television industry, we can safely conclude two major points. The first one being, that even the film stars agree that there is a difference between the two television industry and that the foreign television industry is certainly ahead of the Indian film industry in terms of script, camera techniques and quality of content.
The second point noted from the interviews are that even the actors and the directors watch their work and appreciate it. They say, that they work for the audience and that their success depends on what response they get from their viewers.
It can well be noted that in the first interview with Mrs. Anindita Bose, we found out that she being a Bengali television artist also watches foreign serials and believes that in the years to come, Indian television will match up to its foreign counterpart and that the actors themselves say that they do Hindi/Bengali serials for their audience to appreciate their work.
In the second interview with Mr. Ravi Ojha, noted Bengali director, we came to know a lot about their work and how they believe that Indian youngsters who are preferring to watch foreign serials nowadays will revert back to the Indian serials once we improve on our quality and content. Mr. Ojha also had a lot of faith in the new age directors from India and he was sure that within the years to come, Indian television industry will match head to head with the foreign television industry.
DISCUSSUION AND CONCLUSION
Today’s modern world is engrossed in the internet. The present generation has been referred by many learned men as the ‘Internet’ generation. A young boy or a girl spends a good part of their day on Facebook. The remaining time that they get from the day, they either study or they watch Television.
The important thing that comes here is what they watch, or rather what they should watch on the television. Indian serials have in past found to be repetitive of the same old ‘Saas Bahu’ drama. Let us accept the fact, that this is taking a toll on the mind of a youngster. Who would want to watch the same old soap opera drama? Not me at least! The only good thing left on Television to watch in that case is foreign serials and sitcoms which are now being shown on plenty of English channels.
These serials not only open up the mind of a young child but the content and the dialogues enhance a young child’s personality. Thus, this project clearly shows how Foreign Serials have hooked up the majority of Indian youth, and how its content and technical aspects which are far better than Indian serials have found to be making a deep impact on an Indian youth. This project also showcases on how a radical change has taken place in the personality of young Indians, who in future will make a mark in this contemporary world.
The basic objective of this study was to determine whether and how the exposure to foreign television programmes influence the cultural attitudes of Indian youth. It is generally assumed that gender difference among the viewers partly determines the nature of effects of television in general and hence this project also made an attempt to see whether foreign television programmes influence the young females and males differently.
Therefore, one can conclude by saying that the ‘Impact of Foreign Serials on Indian Youth’ has bought a change in the society, it has bought a change in the cultural attitude of a young Indian.
I have taken my data research from a number of surveys and websites. The television statistics data has been taken from:
- AC Nielsen Survey
- Page and Crawley Survey
I have also done my research and data analysis with the help of the following books:
- Indian Film Industry – The Power House by Dr. Raimanth Tagore
- A Brief History In Time of Indian Television by Prof. Ratnakar Shroff
- Indian Television Guild Magazine – August 2013 Issue
The case study was done with the help from the following websites, which provided raw data of the television serials: