It was an experimental year for Indian television with the successful import of Pakistani dramas, increased Bollywood presence led by Amitabh Bachchan and introduction of mature concepts like gay romance.
The Bollywood megastar’s much–hyped fictional debut has been one of the biggest highlights of TV in 2014. He starred in psychological thriller miniseries ‘Yudh’, which was created by ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’ director Anurag Kashyap. The show, which revolved around a real estate business tycoon (Bachchan) and was said to be loosely based on American drama ‘Boss’, was praised for the stellar performance by the evergreen star and the supporting cast, which included Bollywood actors Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Kay Kay Menon. It, however, did not garner the expected TRPs and was mainly criticised for its slow pace and confusing plot. The 72-year-old actor returned in full form with his reality game show ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati 8’. It rained Bollywood stars on TV as superstar Aamir Khan made a comeback with two seasons of his social issue-based show ‘Satyamev Jayate’, while Salman Khan returned with reality show ‘Bigg Boss 8’. Shahrukh Khan was seen judging a reality dance show for the first time to promote his film ‘Happy New Year’, while Akshay Kumar hosted a dance-based series ‘Dare 2 Dance’. Another high point on TV this year was the entry of Pakistani shows. With their novel storyline and treatment, these dramas came as a breath of fresh air for the audience, who earlier had the option of only melodramatic soap operas and reality shows. Finite-duration dramas like ‘Zindagi Gulzar Hai’, ‘Maat’, ‘Humsafar’ were praised for their subtle screenplay combined with natural performances.
Perhaps taking a cue from their Pakistani counterparts, many miniseries were launched this year. Emotional thriller ‘Laut Aao Trisha’, an official adaptation of Spanish tele-novela Donde esta Elisa and filmmaker Ashutosh Gowariker’s TV debut with 100-episode series Everest are a few ones, which have impressed the audience.
Small screen also attempted with some fresh and mature subjects like reconnection of a divorced couple after years of separation (‘Itna Karo Na Mujhe Pyaar’), struggles of a gay couple to come out with their relationship (‘Kaisi Yeh Yaariyan’), love story between a married woman and her unmarried boss (‘Ajeeb Dastaan Hai Yeh’) and with the viewers giving these shows a thumbs-up, it seems Indian TV is ready for a change.
Like every year, TV had its share of controversies. ‘Bigg Boss’, which is infamous for its fights and high-octane drama, made headlines for showing two contestants (Gautam Gulati and Diandra Soares) kissing on the show. The incident did get the reality show the much required-TRP, but also invited backlash from many sections of the society, including Rajya Sabha for projecting ‘vulgarity’ on television. The controversy continued as rumours surfaced that Diandra was evicted from the show because she got pregnant, which the supermodel later denied.
Pakistani dramas proved to be a good competitor to Indian soaps, which usually have stereotyped characters and set-ups. Being adapted from novels, Pakistani serials had an edge over Indian soaps with their focus on content rather than on the grandeur. From love stories like ‘Humsafar’, ‘Zindagi Gulzar Hai’, romantic-comedy ‘Yeh Shaadi Nahi Ho Sakti’ to intense dramas like ‘Maat’ and ‘Badi Aapa’, Pakistani shows struck a chord with the viewers.
While saas-bahu sagas continued enjoying a dedicated fan base, popularity of miniseries also grew. Vampire drama ‘Fannah’, launched earlier this year and currently in its second season, is being liked by the youth.
Recently launched contemporary thriller ‘Mahakumbh’, starring Gautam Rode, is also a miniseries and the makers will reportedly come up with more seasons, based on the response of the first instalment.
With Anil Kapoor’s successful TV drama ‘24’ coming up with its second season next year, it seems a strong market for such shows will only grow in the future.
Television showed progression this year by attempting mature and bolder issues. Youth-based fiction show ‘Kaisi Yeh Yaariyan’, which revolves around a group of friends and their relationships, has gay romance as one of its sub-plots. The show highlights the plight of homosexuals, who are scared about coming out of the closet.
It was also a year for the small screen debut of some popular 1990s actresses. While ‘Maine Pyar Kiya’ fame actress Bhagyashree starred in ‘Laut Ao Trisha’, Sonali Bendre, who has judged reality shows in the past, made her fictional debut with Balaji Telefilms’s soap opera ‘Ajeeb Dastan Hai Yeh’.
Many popular TV faces made their comebacks to the small screen. Pallavi Kulkarni returned with ‘Itna Karo Na Mujhe Pyaar’ after a seven-year-long hiatus. Actor Harshad Chopra made a comeback to TV after two years with romantic drama ‘Humsafars’.
While fiction showed signs of positive change, lack of novel concept in reality shows was evident in 2014.