Category Archives: Scholastic Yearbook

2015 TV ROUNDUP: WILL INTERNET BE THE NEW TV? #SCHOLASTICYEARBOOK

Note: This piece was written by Nikhil Taneja (@tanejamainhoonfor Scholastic Yearbook 2015. The book can be bought here: https://goo.gl/JX06qa

At the fag end of September 2015, the top rated shows on Indian television were: Saath Nibhana Saathiya, Ye Hai Mohabbatein and Diya aur Baati (Star Plus), Sasural Simar Ka, Swaragini and Udaan (Colors TV), Kumkum Bhagya and Jamai Raja (Zee TV), and Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah (Sab TV). Sound familiar?

Yes, if 2014 shows like Abhinay Deo’s 24, Anurag Kashyap’s Yudh and Vipul Shah’s Pukaar were hinting towards exciting times ahead for Indian television, 2015 showed that the more things change, the more they remain the same. Indian television circled back to the same old formula of women-led soap operas, even as international television seemed to be at a watershed moment in its history.

Because September 2015 was also the month American TV honoured the very best in television at its flagship Primetime Emmy Awards. And for the first time in the history of its 67 years, the biggest winners were cable and streaming TV, instead of good old network television. Cable network HBO swept the awards with a grand total of 43 Emmys, whereas streaming networks like Netflix and Amazon also took home a few big ones.

To give some context: this would be like YouTube comedy groups AIB and TVF or the newly launched digital platform Hotstar.com taking home the biggest awards over Star Plus, Colors and Zee TV at an Indian Television Awards night!

And for all you know, in the next couple of years, that may just happen. Because if there was one major development in Indian television in 2015, it was the prospect of internet being the new TV. With the rise of internet collectives like The Viral Fever, whose original fiction series Pitchers, has over 1.5 million views on each of its six episodes, and the launch of streaming mobile and digital platforms like hotstar, which has both announced huge plans for original content, ‘television’ viewing may be all set to change. In fact, HotStar’s first series is a best of both worlds, with comedy group All India Bakchod teaming up with them for a news-based series.

Both TV and film studios are also joining the race to be the next ‘Netflix’ – and there are plans for the original Netflix to come to India too – so we’re up for some fun times ahead. ErosNow, the streaming platform from Eros International, has announced three big-budget TV series, with filmmakers like Rohan Sippy and actors like Bipasha Basu associated with them.  Yash Raj Films, on the other hand, has already launched its first original series, Man’s World, through its youth division, Y Films, while Balaji Telefilms, not to be left behind, has promised ‘edgy’ content too, to exploit the fact that there’s no censorship on the internet.

By next year, it is all too likely that television may want to change its programming to keep up with all the exciting things happening on the digital front, but at the moment, just like the audiences, television network heads prefer to wait and watch.

Five Indian Television Highlights:

One more English channel – There has never been a better to time to be a fan of English-language entertainment in India. There are already about 10 channels providing the same in India, Star World being the biggest, but Viacom18 has extended its Colors’ brand to start yet another GEC, Colors Infinity. With Karan Johar and Alia Bhatt curating the programming, and original English-language shows lined up, it remains to be seen whether it or not it will be a gamechanger.

Two Food Channels – If the popularity of Masterchef India, Junior Masterchef India, Farah Ki Dawat, Sanjeev Kapoor, and food in general, it was only time before more channels dedicated to food popped up. Food Food has already been doing well, and now, with Living Foodz entering the segment with English and Hindi language shows, it looks like too many cooks aren’t spoiling any broths at the moment.

Three Sports Leagues – The Indian Premiere League may be guilty on many counts, like Lalit Modi and reducing the ‘gentleman’s game’ to Wham, Bam, Thank you Ma’am entertainment, but it’s certainly done great wonders for other sports in the country. The idea of ‘Sports Leagues’ has caught on and how, proven by the smashing, celebrity-driven seasons of The Pro Kabaddi League, The Indian Super League, and the Indian Badminton League.

Four New and Improved Reality Shows – Dance, Music, Comedy and Adventure based reality shows are proven hits in India. This year too, a new entrant in each genre – Dance Plus in Dance, The Voice in Music, Comedy Nights Bachao in Comedy and the upcoming ‘I Can Do That in Adventure – has upped the excitement about each.

Five Fresh Ideas That Made An Impact – The official remake of Everybody Loves Raymond, Sumit Sambhal Lega, was appreciated for re-versioning Indian sitcoms; Chakravartin Ashoka Samrat’s fresh treatment of the show made it a big success, Reporters, was a novel idea that got a lot of love, Stories by Rabindranath Tagore was a stimulating piece of work by Anurag Basu, and TVF’s Pitchers was the first big internet series that proved that the audiences are ready for many more fresh ideas.

Five International Television Highlights:

One Indian star on an American TV show: At the time of publishing, Priyanka Chopra-starrer American TV show Quantico had just opened – to glowing reviews – but it was left to be seen how it would do ratings-wise. But if there’s anything that months of outstanding promotions with Chopra’s face plastered across billboards in New York and LA proved, it’s that American TV probably has its first big Bollywood star.

Two super hit network shows:  Empire and How to Get Away with Murder, as two shows that wore their diversity (behind the scenes and in front of the camera) on their sleeves, proved to critics that network TV isn’t going to go away anytime soon, but the trick is fresh voices, diverse faces, and dramatic content.

Three ends of eras – David Letterman retired from The Late Show after 22 years, Jon Stewart moved on from The Daily Show after 19 years and Mad Men ended after 8 years. American pop culture as a whole will never be the same again after 2015.

Four superheroes on the small screen – The big war between Marvel and DC comics spilled from the big screen to the small, with both DC Entertainment and Marvel Studios making a push to take over the television landscape. While DC’s big wins came through The Flash and Gotham, Marvel’s Daredevil and Agent Carter proved that the TV crown is still up for the taking.

Five shows to prove Netflix is here to stay – With the debut seasons of three big-budget and big-casted shows with big ambitions, Narcos, Sense8 and Bloodline, and two ace follow up seasons of House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, Netflix has proved this year that it wasn’t only on HBO’s trail… it may just have surpassed it.


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Note: This piece first appeared in The Scholastic Yearbook 2015.
Link: http://www.amazon.in/Scholastic-Yearbook-2015-No/dp/9351036588?ie=UTF8&keywords=scholastic%20yearbook%202015&qid=1477772519&ref_=sr_1_1&sr=8-1
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© Copyright belongs to the author, Nikhil Taneja. The article may not be reproduced without permission. A link to the URL, instead, would be appreciated.

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2014 TV ROUNDUP: TV IS THE NEW MULTIPLEX #SCHOLASTICYEARBOOK

Note: This feature was first published in the Scholastic Yearbook 2015. 

Looking back, if there’s a single word that can be used to characterise 2014 in television, in both India and America, it is: potential. Where earlier television was the sidekick of film, offering popcorn entertainment to the viewers until the next era-defining film would come along and offer a more intelligent, credible and cerebral experience to them; at the moment, both television and film are almost on equal footing. Significantly, if the past couple of years are any indication (with the likes of Sajid Khan films and Michael Bay films slowly turning off the human population one film at a time), the tide is slowly but surely turning towards the rise of television as the primary medium of choice for the perceptive viewer.

American television has consistently been brimming with potential for the last few years now, and in 2014, with the rise of auteur-driven (Steven Soderbergh’s The Knick, David Fincher’s upcoming Utopia), star-driven (Matthew McConaughey starrer True Detective and Billy Bob Thornton starrer Fargo, etc) and platform agnostic content-driven shows (Netflix’s Orange is the New Black and Amazon Prime’s Transparent, etc), it does seem that this is television’s golden age where America is concerned, and the channels, studios and showrunners will keep building on this potential to lead into a new era of path breaking programming where television will trump its big screen counterpart, cinema.

On the other hand, Indian television is at the cusp of change. For the longest time, it seemed that television in India seemed to be Benjamin Button-ing itself: it started off well enough, with mature, intelligent and rich programming (Hum Log, Buniyaad, Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi, Ramayan, Mahabharat) in the ‘80s. Then Ekta Kapoor and Balaji television came along in the late ‘90s and the early ‘00s and saas-bahued everything in her way (Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, Kahani Ghar Ghar Kii, Kasauti Zindagi Kii, etc), and ever since, Indian television programming has consistently been regressing in terms of IQ, maturity and content.

But over the last couple of years, and more so especially in 2014, the downward spiral of television content in India has momentarily paused and there is a sense of coming of age, ironically, as if after reverse aging, the programming has hit adolescence. With viewer fatigue obvious in the kind of small town centric, conservative leaning, ‘same same but different’ programming that’s been around for over a decade now, channels have now begun taking risks and experimenting with its content, to test the waters for a bit. There is incredible potential in the kind of ideas being thrown around and the shows being launched, and if the audience come of age too, with their acceptance of quality programming, then 2014 could be the year to have ushered in an era of much-needed change.

As we look forward to 2015 for a better understanding of where things are headed, here’s a look back at how the television landscape was altered in 2014:

INDIAN TELEVISION

If there’s ever been a year for Indian television that has posed more questions than given answers, it has to be the recently concluded 2014.  The year gone by was arguably one of the riskiest for television in nearly a decade, with channels from across genres and segments trying their hands at something ‘new’ and ‘different’, however clichéd that may sound, to break through the mould and be the progenitors of quality television. The catch? The risks have yet to yield any rewards, off the bat.

Different is the new normal
Sony, that’s almost always been at the forefront of change, be it with Indian Idol or Kaun Banega Crorepati or for that matter, Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahin, again took charge with a very expensive gamble in Anurag Kashyap’s Amitabh Bachchan starrer thriller miniseries, Yudh, which brought talents like Nawazuddin Siddique, Kay Kay Menon, Sarika and many more on to the small screen. The 20-episode weekly series, that cost Rs 3 crore per episode to make, got a certain amount of critical appreciation but failed to take off in a big way. The reasons may have nothing to do with the unconventional format – the show could never elevate itself from decent to must-see.

Yudh had more at stake than Abhinay Deo’s Anil Kapoor starrer 24 India, which ended its 24 episode run in December 2013, because it was an original series instead of a remake, so its average TRPS did not help the cause of unconventional programming. There is still hope, though, since 24 India has been renewed for a season season, and now Star TV has jumped onto the miniseries bandwagon with Ashutosh Gowarikar’s Everest, which was shot on location in the Himalayas and features music by AR Rahman. Life OK has also pulled producer-director Vipul Shah back to TV (since he, Gowarikar, Kashyap and many others started their careers there) for a miniseries starring Rannvijay Singha and Adah Sharma, while Zee is reportedly remaking the hit American TV series Heroes that is expected  to launch in 2015.

Filmmakers on TV
While getting film stars to television is a trend that’s been around for a few years, bonafide filmmakers mining the medium of television to tell their stories, and adaptations of American TV shows can be pinned down in a big way to 2014. Apart from the aforementioned examples, six of India’s best-known filmmakers, Abhinay Deo, Anurag Basu, Anurag Kashyap, Nikhil Advani, Rohan Sippy and Shoojit Sircar also came together in 2014 for a project called MTV Films, where the directors made an hour-long feature film each for youth channel MTV, of different genres, but all catering to the youth.

Kashyap also made a six-part thriller miniseries called Traffic, which he also hosted, in association with human trafficking awareness initiative MTV EXIT; while Mahesh Bhatt adapted an unreleased film of his on bonded labour into a TV series called Udaan, for Colours. Lined up next are an Anurag Basu TV series on Rabindranath Tagore for an upcoming channel and a rumoured remake of Prison Break; a Nikhil Advani TV series that is an adaptation of an undisclosed American show rumoured to be starring Konkana Sen Sharma; and a potential adaptation of Homeland by Anil Kapoor Productions. Kajol is said to be in talks for the remake of The Killing while Madhuru Dixit-Nene is rumoured to be on board for an adaptation of The Good Wife. Only one such show needs to take off in a big way, and soon, the idiot box will be the new multiplex.

Genre entertainment vs rajma chawal
In the quest for unconventional and targeted programming, there is a shift from General Entertainment Channel to give rise to the Genre Entertainment Channel, exclusively focused on meeting the niche demand of the 21st century audience. Zee TV introduced a brand new channel, Zindagi, which showcased the best shows from across the border and premiered to some extremely favourable critical reviews. Sony has recently started Sony Pal, a TV channel for the new age woman from ages 15-34, while MTV has launched MTV Indies, to showcase the best in independent, urban music, movies, stand-up comedy and art. A new channel, Epic, focused purely on mythological and historical shows has begun development in 2014 too.

While all of this is heartening news for the viewer looking for more; the viewer looking for the same – or less – can rest assured that the status on their favourite show is unlikely to change soon. Comedy With Kapil still remains the number one non-fiction show on TV, mythologicals like Mahabharat (though it ended its year long run) and Jodha Akbar still yield the highest TRPs, Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chasmha is going to stay ooltah for a while, whereas daily soaps like Diya Aur Baati Hum, Pyaar Ka Dard Meetha Meetha Pyaara Pyaara, Saath Nibhaana Saathiya and Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai continue to rule the roost. The genres of saas-bahu, romance, crime, reality, mythology and comedy are as part of the Indian’s staple diet as is rajma-chawal; no matter the new delicacies introduced on the menu, rajma-chawal will always be fulfilling.

AMERICAN TELEVISION

It is only a matter of time now before theatres will be relegated only to popcorn blockbusters and superhero films not just through the summer months but all year round, and American television will become the first choice of auteuer filmmakers and A-list talent to tell the stories they want told. The golden age of American television started with HBO and The Sopranos; and today, every channel from the lesser-known Cinemax to online streaming platforms like Netflix are giving dime-a-dozen reasons for the audience to convert their homes into mini theatres.

McConaissance and True Detective
If 2013 was the year of AMC and Breaking Bad, then 2014 was the year of HBO and True Detective, as Nic Pizzalatto’s anthology crime miniseries enchanted the entire world and perhaps even the rest of the universe into a haze of Matthew McConaughey worship. Through the show, McConaughey and costar Woody Harrelson became the face of what television is likely to look like in the coming years: legit film stars – and not just film actors – doing career-defining work on the small screen. It is not a coincidence that McConaughey won the Best Actor Oscar for Dallas Buyers Club a couple of months after True Detective – anyone who understand who the Academy Awards works knows that his win was more because of the buzz around his work in the TV show than in the movie, which most voters, and almost all viewers outside of critics, may not even have seen.

True Detective gave way a few months later to another anthology crime series, FX’s Fargo, created by Noah Hawley and executive produced by the Coen Brothers, based on their 1996 film of the same name. Fargo starred bonafide film stars Martin Freeman and Billy Bob Thornton, among a host of other outstanding talent like Allison Tolman and Colin Hanks, and proved that the True Detective model is here to stay.

The year was rounded off by with the CBS miniseries Extant, starring Halle Berry and executive produced by Steven Spielberg, Sundance TV series The Honourable Woman starring Maggie Gyllenhaal HBO series The Leftovers, with a cast led by Justin Thereoux and Cinemax’s critically acclaimed, period drama The Knick, starring Clive Owen, directed by Steven Soderbergh. The year’s end also saw Nick Jonas and Frank Grillo face off in DirecTV’s boxing drama Kingdom.

The cinemafication of TV
If you’re wondering what the success of these shows mean, it’s quite simple, really: more of the biggest stars and the biggest directors doing such shows on cable channels and streaming platforms like HBO, Showtime, Netflix and Amazon Prime! So expect in 2015 Dwayne Johnson comedy Ballers, Billy Crystal comedy The Comedians, a Martin Scorsese series starring Olivia Wilde, a HBO miniseries starring James Marsden, Anthony Hopkins and Ed Harries, David Fincher directing the American adaptation of the British TV series Utopia and Cameron Crowe making an Almost Famous-kind of TV series on musicians, and of course, Colin Farrell, Vince Vaughn and Rachel McAdams confirmed for True Detective’s season 2.

The cinemafication of TV is almost a surety now when you consider the number of superhero and comic book shows that made it to television in 2014: Apart from the second season of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD and the third season of DC’s Arrow, Batman prequel Gotham, an eponymous show on DC Superhero Flash and another show on DC anti-hero Constantine all premiered in fall 2014 to encouraging TRPs. Considering Netflix has a plan of creating an Avengers sort of superhero team called The Defenders, with each of its four heroes getting their own shows starting in 2014 with The Daredevil, you can basically start stocking up the popcorn in your house already.

The rajma-chawal of the US, network shows and ratings juggernauts like The Good Wife, Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy, The Big Bang Theory and Modern Family, among many others, all continued to impress too; while new shows on existing channels like Manhattan, The Divide and You’re The Worst, all proved that good programming need not be limited to cable channels.

Late Night shows and John Oliver
In non-fiction, late night chat shows and news comedy shows underwent a massive facelift in 2014, indicating a shift towards appeasing younger audiences instead of the usual late night staple viewership of old folks. Jimmy Fallon took over The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and his The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon was even more successful. Seth Meyers took over Jimmy Fallon’s old talk show, and Late Night with Seth Meyers was a reasonable hit too. Talk show legend David Letterman announced his retirement and the popular Stephen Colbert was roped in as replacement; while relatively unknown James Corden was announced as Craig Ferguson’s successor on The Late Late Show, after Ferguson announced his exit as well.

But the biggest critical and commercial success and an instant late night icon was born when John Oliver exited The Daily Show with Jon Stewart to helm his own news comedy show, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. The show, the very first weekly news comedy show, became a massive fan favourite with its ballsy and hilarious takes on some of the most controversial issues from drone strikes to the American prison system, and Oliver’s impassioned rants became the stuff of internet legend in its very first season.

The show’s success and Oliver’s acceptance in the mainstream marked an year of great hope for television as a medium of not just entertainment but also intellectual stimulation; and left viewers with a promise that even as viewing platforms continually evolve, the highest quality content will be available just a click away.

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Note: An edited version of this feature first appeared in the 2015 Scholastic Yearbook.
Picture courtesy: Google. None of the pictures are owned by the author all rights belong to the original owner(s) and photographer(s).
© Copyright belongs to the author, Nikhil Taneja. The article may not be reproduced without permission. A link to the URL, instead, would be appreciated.

 

2013 Roundup: Indian and International TV #ScholasticYearbook #TV

It is arguably too early to say this, but 2013 could be the year that changed both Indian and international television forever.  In February 2013, American internet streaming service Netflix premiered a political drama series, House of Cards, developed by Academy-nominated writer Beau Willimon, starring two-times Academy Award winning actor, Kevin Spacey, with the first episode directed by two-times Academy Award Best Director nominee, David Fincher, who is also one of the executive producers of the series (Phew! What a credit roll!).

Among the first few full-length, season-based series (generally called a ‘TV series’ but obviously not in this case) ever produced for the internet, House of Cards made history by becoming the very original first only series to be nominated for television’s highest honour, the Emmy Awards. Nominated for 14 Emmys, the series picked up two – for Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series (won by David Fincher) and for Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series (Laray Mayfield/Julie Schubert).

Netflix, that was earlier an on-demand internet service for watching the latest in movies and TV shows, is one of the first few online distribution outlets that ventured into multi-episode, TV-length original programming with Norwegian-American series, Lilyhammer, in 2012. The moderate success of the show, along with the phenomenal success of House of Cards and the two shows Netflix followed it up with – prison comedy Orange is the New Black, and a fourth season of the cult comedy Arrested Development – has proved, once more, that content is king, no matter what form it is consumed in.

With video-sharing website Youtube, internet e-commerce giant Amazon, internet streaming service Hulu and even Microsoft’s online gaming service Xbox Live set to launch premium ‘web television series’, the future of content is already here. While television in its current form will not be obsolete anytime soon, the day when computer will be the new idiot box, bought instead of a television set to watch (ironically enough) ‘television content’ , is not that far away!

On the desi side of things, in October 2013, one of the most expensive television shows ever produced in India, the Anil Kapoor-starrer 24, an adaptation of the hit American TV series of the same name, premiered after months of anticipation. With a reported cost exceeding Rs 50 crores, this is an Indian fiction series of many firsts. It is the first time an A-list Indian film ‘star’ of the stature of Anil Kapoor is playing the lead on television, where generally A-list actors only host or judge shows, or make ‘cameo’ appearances to promote their movies. It is the first time an international TV series has been adapted on such a massive scale in India, and also the first time a majority of the 24 episodes of the series were shot in advance, in an industry where one-line stories are stretched to multiple years!

Moreover, the kind of Bollywood talent involved in the series is mind-boggling. 24 is produced by Anil Kapoor, who starred on the eighth season of the original American version of the show alongside contemporary television icon, Kiefer ‘Jack Bauer’ Sutherland. The series is directed by Delhi Belly director Abhinay Deo, written by Rang De Basanti writer Rensil D’Silva, with dialogues by Kaante writer Milap Milan Zaver. It co-stars, along with Kapoor, an array of film talent like Anupam Kher, Shabana Azmi, Rahul Khanna, Tisca Chopra, Mandira Bedi and Neil Bhoopalam.

Indian TV channel Colors has reportedly invested Rs 85 Crore in the show, with the aim of making it one of India’s only TV series with a season-based format (a second season is said to be already in the works). While it is a bit premature to predict the impact of the show on Indian TV, it is suffice to say that if the show gets a high number of eyeballs, there is a good chance that television content in India will start catering to not just the saas, bahu and the beti, but also the sasur, damaad and beta! With Anurag Basu rumoured to be planning an Indian adaptation of the international series Prison Break and an Anurag Kashyap-led Amitabh Bachchan starrer already in the works for the TV channel, Sony, Indian television looks set for a much-needed overhaul in the years to come. Let’s just hope that it arrives before we become as old as the storylines of our current batch of archaic TV shows!

Even as we hope for a fantastic 2014, here are the ups and downs in the land of television in 2013:

 

INDIAN TV SHOWS:

Through the year, General Entertainment Channel (GEC) Star Plus more or less maintained the least in terms of viewership amongst all channels, with Zee TV and Colors juggling second and third spots between them. Sometimes Sony TV would climb upwards but usually it maintained its fourth position. Life OK and Sahara came in last. A major development of 2013 was that Television Viewership in Thousands (TVTs) replaced Total Rating Points (TRPs) as the measurement for television viewership in India, as digitisation was brought about across the country.

And of course, while GECs led the way for both urban and rural viewers through the year, towards the end of the year, Star World launched a subscription-based channel, Star World Premiere, that aims to air popular international TV shows like How I Met Your Mother, on the same day as their international broadcast, a first for India!

Drama

Have a look at this list: Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai, Madhubala – Ek Ishq Ek Junoon, Pyaar Ka Dard Hai Meetha Meetha Pyaara Pyaar, Pavitra Rishta, Is Pyaar Ko Kya Naam Doon, Kehta Hai Dil Jee Le Zara. These are some of the top performing Indian shows of 2013. Notice anything in common? Maybe the words ‘Rishta’, ‘Ishq’, ‘Pyaar’, ‘Pyaara’ and ‘Dil’ give you a hint? Yes, Indian television suddenly seemed to realise that before a woman becomes a bahu and then a saas, she typically falls in love with a man (either before or after marriage), and that could make for a TV show too! And considering the long legacy of our ‘me too’ television history, once the first such show became a success, every channel had at least three such shows on air at any given point of time. They had different faces and the same storylines that eventually did turn into saas-bahu sagas, because the next step after love is obviously marriage and the dreaded in-laws.

Even as love ruled the airwaves with the above shows and shows like Diya Aur Baati (about arranged marriage) and Qubool Hai (About love in the Muslim community), which were the biggest hits of the year, the hits from the years before continued to fare strongly be it Balika Vadhu, Uttaran, Sasural Simar Ka, Punar Vivah, Veera, Saath Nibhana Saathiya and Sapne Suhane Ladakpan Ke, some of which completed milestones between 200 – 1400 episodes (in the case of Balika Vadhu!). As they say, ‘The more things change, the more they remain the same’, and that holds completely true in the case of Indian television. Here’s hoping 24 India brings about some true change for once.

Mythological and Historical

The interest of Indian television audiences in mythological and historical television shows remained steady in 2013. The greatest Indian epic ever written, the Mahabharata, was recreated on television again by Star Plus in 2013, even though a similar exercise by Ekta Kapoor in 2008, for 9X, was a massive disaster. But this version, named Mahabharat, which was targeted primarily at the youth through its large PR and marketing activations across the country, opened to great TVTs and continued to hold fort through 2013.  The show, whose creative team counted amongst its talent legendary Indian writer Salim Khan, author Devdutt Patnaik, Oscar-winning designer Bhanu Athaiya, music composers Ismail Darbar and Ajay-Atul and art director Omung Kumar, was reportedly made on a budget of Rs 150 Crores, a lot of which was spent on special effects, the likes of which were seen less on Indian television.

The historical, Jodha Akbar (Zee TV), produced by Ekta Kapoor, was another huge success, and gathered fantastic TVTs throughout the year. Other shows in this category like Devon Ke Dev Mahadev, Bharat Ka Veer Putra – Maharana Pratap, Buddha and Ganesh Leela were also watched fervently in 2013.

Comedy

Comedy also continued to rule the roost in the year but one show stood out because of its historic ratings and critical acclaim both: Comedy Nights with Kapil (Colors). The show, hosted by stand-up comedian Kapil Sharma went on air in the month of June and quickly became a must-watch television viewing event for families because of its quirky format, the likeable personality of its host, and the enjoyable interactions between Sharma and the celebrity guests of the episode, which included India’s biggest names in entertainment.

Sony TV’s Comedy Circus continued doing well through the year, Sab TV’s Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah continued to be amongst the top 20 highest rating shows of the year, and many other shows like Nautanki – The Comedy Theater (Colors), Hassvya kavi sammelen Wah! Wah! Kya Baat Hai! (Sab TV) and most SAB TV fiction comedies, led by police comedy FIR, had above average viewership through the year.

Reality Television

Tired of watching regular youngsters on talent shows showing off their youthful energy and skills, the audiences gave a mighty thumbs up to any show that brought them kids, parents and even grandparents on their TV screens and made them feel good about themselves. Hence, it was clearly the year of Spin Offs, as Indian Idol Junior, Dance India Dance Super Moms, Junior Master Chef and Nach Baliye Shriman V/s Shrimati did exceedingly well in the off season of their parent talent shows.

Shows like India’s Best Dramebaaz (featuring kids), India’s Dancing Superstars (featuring all ages), and Connected Hum Tum (featuring married or about-to-be-married women) also did well, while new seasons of Jhhalak Dikhhla Jaa, Kaun Banega Crorepati and Big Boss continued their dominance as India’s premiere reality shows. The Bachelorette, where Mallika Sherawat took home a reported Rs 30 crore just too test contestants and find a suitable boy to date, opened to good numbers too.

The success of Crime Patrol also gave way to many crime-based shows like Shaitan – A Criminal Mind, Savdhaan India – India Fights Back and Police – Dial 100 lured in audiences with thrilling re-enactments of real incidents of crime.

Youth Television

Channel V continued its rise as India’s only youth GEC, leaving far behind its old competitors MTV India and UTV Bindass. With its flagship shows Gumrah – End of Innocence, about crime amongst youngsters, and daily serials Dil Dosti Dance, Humse Hai Life, The Buddy Project, The Serial and Surveen Guggal – Topper of the Year, the channel left its old identity of reality and music programming far, far behind.

MTV India, on the other hand, kept experimenting and mixing it up with veteran successful reality shows like Roadies and Splitsvilla (in their 10th and 6th seasons now, respectively), established music properties Coke Studio @ MTV, Unplugged, Soundtripping and their first attempt at a season-based fiction comedy TV series, Reality Stars, a comedy reality series, TimeOut with Imam, and a show on cybercrime, Webbed. While some experiments paid off and others failed for MTV India, they continued maintaining their identity as a universal youth and music channel.

While MTV remained ahead of UTV Bindass in viewership for the major part of the year, it faced tough competition towards the end of the year as their show Yeh Hai Aashiqui, based on emotional real-life love stories, received major love from the audiences. Bindass’ regular reality shows, Superdude, Big Switch and Emotional Atyachar also fared well, although their experiment in re-launching their identity as ‘Rest Less’ had mixed results.

 

INTERNATIONAL TV SHOWS:

If there was one show that defined the year 2013 in international television, it was AMC’s multiple award-winning television series Breaking Bad, that reached its epic, violent conclusion after five years and five seasons. The show, created by Vince Gilligan and starring Bryan Cranston as a high school chemistry teacher-turned-drug lord, has been hailed as the greatest television series ever made by critics and fans alike. Its final episode was watched by over 10 million people on its first broadcast across USA, and by millions more through internet streaming and illegal downloads the world over, in what was a shared cultural experience only experienced during sports broadasts. As the curtains fell for the show on September 29, 2013, television fans across the world fell into collective momentary depression, not sure how they are going to live the rest of their lives without the addiction that was the show, Breaking Bad.

On the other hand, another cable television darling, Showtime’s Dexter, starring Michael C Hall, also came to its conclusion after eight seasons, but left most fans and critics unhappy with the way it ended. Apart from the previously mentioned landmark year for original Netflix series, the new shows that were loved by fans and critics alike were Kevin Bacon-starrer The Following, about a serial-killer who starts a cult; Under The Dome, adapted by Stephen King’s book of the same name about a town that’s surrounded by a mysterious dome, Marvel’s first television series, Agents of SHIELD, which takes place in the time after 2012’s smash hit movie, The Avengers, and brings back to life the much loved Agent Coulson (played by Clarg Gregg), James Spader-starrer The Blacklist, about the world’s most-wanted criminal, and Sleepy Hollow, a fantasy drama about the resurrection.

The rest of the year saw new seasons of the same shows in reality television, serialised fiction and sitcoms faring spectacularly. The Voice, American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, Survivor, Project Runway, So You Think You Can Dance continued their dominance as America’s most-loved reality shows. In cable television, Game of Thrones, Mad Men, Homeland, The Newsroom, The Walking Dead, and Suits, continued causing mass mania and innumerable dinner-table debates amongst television lovers, even as families and kids continued to adorn network television’s top-rated, invincible sitcoms The Big Bang Theory, Modern Family, The Simpsons and How I Met Your Mother, which started its journey towards the end with its final season.

Among network television serialised fiction shows, the second season of Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes’ show, Scandal, which stars Kerry Washington as a crisis fixer in Washington DC, became an all-American phenomenon, as television buffs lapped it up in millions, just like they did Grey’s Anataomy. The Good Wife, Person of Interest, Blue Bloods, Elementary, Castle, Glee, Once Upon a Time and Grey’s Anatomy continued their ratings juggernaut while crime procedurals CSI, NCIS, Law and Order and Criminal Minds did as well as they’ve always done.

Finally, among late night shows, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel Live and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno continued to battle it out for audience attention as the funniest talk shows on TV, while The Colbert Report, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Real Time with Bill Maher continued to master political satire.

Note: This article first appeared in the Scholastic Yearbook 2014. 

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