Web-series is the new black

After a decade of writing around irrelevant subjects for daily soaps, writers are finally working to bring edgy and fresh web series

For every '90s kid, television was all about those unnumbered saas-bahu daily soaps starring a quintessential bahu, an overdramatic saas and the evil vamp whose dressing styles indeed gave major fashion goals. With time, revolutions took place in the television industry but end results were nothing less than severe turmoil for the viewers. But to save us all, a nascent but definite revolution – in the form of web-series – is brewing in the online space.
Thanks to some mentally composed writers who stepped out of the demarcations to tailor concepts that are edgy and fresh. Web series not only talks about some sensible plots - unlike those of 'naagins' and 'houseflies' - but also gives creative freedom to its makers in the absence of any kind of censorship.
Pranav Sachdeva, an actor who has been part of innumerable television shows, will be next seen in Vikram Bhatt's web series 'Hadh'. Speaking of why he finds comfort in web series over TV, Pranav says, "Web is more experimental than television. There is no broadcasting censor and thus it offers more creative liberty. So, what the makers want to show and what the audiences want to see finds a point of intersection. For me as an actor, web series was far more challenging yet creatively satisfying. Also, since the television series keeps on running episode after episode, boredom enters after a certain point of time. But with the internet, you get to explore more."
Though Gunjan Utreja, who was last seen in the web series 'Mickey Vicky Ka Program' second the opinion that web series is more popular these days, he feels that TV is still growing in terms of reach. "We must realize that TV is not competing against any medium, it just caters to a specific audience. You cannot deny that television caters to middle-class households with an average age of 25 and above, while web-series is only catering to 16 to 24-year-old audience. Hence we cannot claim the death of television as yet. It's just that the content and approach are different," he mentioned.
That puts up a question as to why people are still liking shows full of irrelevant and insane elements such as re-incarnations, female lead turning into a fly and what not.
Elaborating on the same note, Arjun Bijlani says that if they (makers) are not doing these kinds of things in a fantasy fiction then it would actually be odd and disgusting.
Bijlani, who has played the lead in the top Indian television shows like 'Left Right Left', 'Mile Jab Hum Tum' and 'Naagin' adds, "In a fantasy fiction, you can show anything, the sky is the limit. If it's a daily soap, then we need to look at stronger content so as to compete with the webs series. There is a great market for such fiction shows in India and that's the reason why makers come up with such plots."
But isn't it also true that audience will see what we show them?
Who would not like to watch good, meaningful, performance-based and motivational concepts if made and delivered on TV? Is it only the content that needs to be improved? Well, not for Karan Oberoi, who says that it's not really about the new concepts and plots but the narrative structure, which is old, archaic and redundant.
"There are a few reasons that TV is not able to find its lost glory and it will continue on its downward spiral if things don't change dramatically. It's not really about new concepts and plots if your narrative structure is old, archaic and redundant. The shot taking itself hasn't changed in the last few years and it's so over the top that it is almost bordering on asinine. When a country goes through an economic upward swing, the exposure of the audience also changes to newer forms of content. They become more discerning and spoilt for choice. So as storytellers we have to up the ante and deliver or perish," said Karan who once ruled the television industry in a way only a few people could.
Moreover, for Prachi tehlan, it's the increasing competetion which is leading to the downfall of Indian Television industry. "Availability of so many mediums for the viewers now a days is making it difficult to have a loyal long lasting audience for the makers. Netflix, YouTube, amazon etc are what's appealing the millennials. Audience has become very sharp and easy access to internet has worsen the situation for the Television show makers.
Despite leading makers like Ekta Kapoor, Vikram Bhatt etc shifting from television to web; actors still feel there is a hope for the survival of Indian television. But how?
Should we switch to making shows like 'Game of Thrones' and 'Friends' that have attained zenith in terms of popularity in India?
"We had shows like 'Shaanti', 'Kyuki Saas Bhi...' and 'Kahaani Ghar Ghai Ki....' which were huge hits. It was an evolution because nobody had done something of that sort till then. So instead of aping others to make anything like 'Game of Thrones', we need to focus on stuff that we can relate to. 'Permanent Roommates' did so well because people could associate with us and the problems we faced. So, basically, we need to come up with our own versions of 'Game of Thrones'," explained Sumeet Vyas.
While Karan Oberoi, keeping forth his solution, says, "Things would change in the TV scenario only if we were to start nurturing writers, and backing good narratives in addition to fresh plots. With the digital penetration increasing even in rural India, it's only a matter of time. Before people start tuning into newer forms of content and shun TV stories, we need to pick up our socks and deliver. Slowly, the audience will get tuned to what we deliver just like they got used to daily soaps from the weeklies."
Well, we don't know what the future holds for the Television industry, but at the moment web-series are winning all the points.
Syeda Eba

Syeda Eba

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