Hey Indian television! Yes, you. I'm talking to you. If you can hear me beneath all the loud dramatic music, I have something to tell you. Nay, I have something to rant about and I'm pretty sure I'm not alone. (So what if I was born in the late '80s?)
Yes, I'm mad as hell.
In the '90s, which I'd like to call the golden era of daytime soaps, Shanti was about a strong a independent woman, trying to get justice for herself and her mother. Today, people are crazy about Simar, who's biggest enemy is a spoon.
I feel like a child who grew up next to a spacious park, where I could play all day, who suddenly had to start living in some loud, urban jungle with no space to even stretch my arms, let alone my imagination.
Back when I was a kid, and when my family only had a black and white TV, you still threw some awesome gifts in my general direction (shout out to Monty Python fans).
Ramayan was absolute dope.
Mahabharat was like the original Troy.
It wasn't just all fantasy, we also learnt a lot about real heroes.
Yes, that's Naseeruddin Shah in Param Vir Chakra.
Nope, not all testosterone. Women too were leading by example.
Kavita Chaudhary was a total revelation in Udaan, a show about India's first woman Director General of Police.
You gave us crime/detective shows that were simple yet brilliant.
I still look up Byomkesh Bakshi clips online.
And it wasn't just all super heavy serious stuff - the comedy was top notch too.
Any fans of Karamchand?
Who could forget the most dysfunctional but lovable joint family?
So many after-school naps were sacrificed to watch Dekh Bhai Dekh.
Even saas-bahu serials had their golden moments.
Anyone who thought two women couldn't hold a show together had to eat their words after Tu Tu Main Main.
So, my dear Indian television, what the fuck happened? Have you even seen the shit you're peddling us these days?
I mean what in the name of god is this?!
This the most dramatic shit I ever seen in my life dawg lmaoooooo pic.twitter.com/zxvgAarI5i— V.I. BOY (@Dutty_Jermz) February 4, 2016
It's 2016! Why the hell are you showing us ichhadhari nagins and nevlas?
There was a time married couples or lovers used to have fights and part their ways when they couldn't resolve things. Now, we've taken the battle a notch higher - prime time television is about snake and mongoose fights now.
And if you have to delve into the fantasy genre, why can't you do it well? What's with the unnecessary drama? Are you trying to compete with anime or manga? Cause let me tell you, they're doing one hell of a job and you're not.
Humour me for a second here. Let's take a look at the TRP for your 'top' shows. This is from the 2nd week of January, 2016.
The one at the top, Naagin, is about two sisters who can turn into snakes at the drop of a hat, but at the end of the day, it's still a family drama!
When it comes to Sasural Simar Ka - my only reaction is "I can't even". Care to explain these?
The third one, Kumkum Bhagya, initially gave me some hope.
It talked about a single mother who runs a marriage hall and is trying to get them
married "settled" in life. But that was then. Now, it's all about the daughter Pragya, who's back from the dead (just another day in Indian TV) with a completely new persona, who's trying to investigate her younger sister's death (yep, she died too). Oh, and there's a rockstar named Abhi. (I don't need to get high anymore... this plot was dank enough)
If you're justifying these by telling me drama sells, then I want to know who the hell is buying? No wonder your audience is leaving the TV sets behind and running towards torrent sites.
Don't get me wrong - I'm not bashing all your shows. Heck even Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi started off pretty well. The story of a young girl trying to fit into a huge joint family was pretty relatable for many.
It had good actors playing quirky characters that compelled the audience to keep tuning in. But then you had to include the 20 year time-leaps, did-he-die-or did-he-not twists and whatnot. Before you knew it KSBKBT turned into an action flick (whaaaaat!).
Balika Vadhu started off as a commentary on child marriage but look where it is now. The makers are so obsessed with hitting the 2500 episodes mark that they don't care about the plot anymore. It's like a test batsman trying to break a record, so yeah, to hell with the results.
So really? What went wrong?
Why did you succumb to the TRP matters more than quality argument?
Why the hell are plots changing randomly? Do you guys have a meeting where the moment TRP drops you ask the writers to quickly change the plot irrespective of what happened in the last few episodes?
What's up with the execution? Why does a shot showing a person climbing down the steps or getting out of a car need multiple camera angles with post-production gymnastics and apocalyptic music? Are your editors and designers bound by some contract that says 'you're fired if you don't amp up the bullshit'?
Why are your writers so obsessed with writing 'dhamaakedaar dialogues'? Do people not talk normally in joint families? Even the Corleone family is less dramatic and that's saying something.
Why is everyone so one-dimensional?
Why can't your writers create more layered characters? If you're trying to compete with the Walter Whites and Omar Littles, you need your characters to do more than merely fit stereotypes. And what about acting skills? Do you guys even consider that?
Why do your sets look like Durga Puja pandals? Who lives in houses like these is what I want to know. Who keeps all 333 lights on in the house ALL THE FREAKING TIME? I'll not even talk about the jewelry. It's like every day any bahu might getting an audition call to model for Griha Shobha golden jubilee edition!
Are you even aware of the concept of seasons?
CID cast -
And this is from the Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi wiki page -
Why the hell do you need to produce more than 200 episodes a year? Wouldn't you rather produce twenty kick ass quality episodes? Pretty sure your writers would appreciate that. But then again, the question is - who calls the shots? The writers or the financiers? For once, we'd like some quality over quantity. Please.
It's not just a 'east vs west' thing, you know? The western countries have soap operas too. The difference is, people who watch them are mostly aware of how shitty they are. It's a guilty pleasure thing. But here - these are our top shows. Seriously, WTF!
Why don't we see more shows like Ketan Mehta's Pradhan Mantri? Why did Powder, a gritty show inspired by HBO's The Wire come to an end? Don't give the TRP crap now. The Wire had bad ratings and yet it's considered one of the best shows ever made.
Dear Indian television, it's hard being your fan but I've really tried. I've tried and I've failed. Which is why I wrote this, before I forever disappear into the magical beach called The Pirate Bay.
P.S. For the readers, here's Komolika's song from Kasauti Zindagi Ki.