Devina Joshi

What makes the Veeranis more popular than the Batliwalas?

Close watchers of the industry feel that soaps featuring a popular regional culture are successful in capturing the interest of the masses

If the Veeranis stand for Gujarati family values in ‘Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhie Bahu Thi’, the Basus of ‘Kasauti Zindagi Ki’ promote Bengali culture. Television soaps portray every nuance of the regional culture that the storyline follows, be it the costumes or mannerisms.

As Shailja Kejriwal, creative director, STAR Plus, puts it: “We need to give a name and address to each character. This is why we need to follow a particular culture in the storyline.”

However, she doesn’t agree with the concept of regional culture. “It’s pan-Indian culture,” she says.

But then why do we see mostly Punjabis and Gujaratis on Indian television? Even in the era of Doordarshan monopoly, the Punjabi storyline was very popular, witness the success of ‘Buniyaad’, ‘Doosra Kewal’ (which starred Shah Rukh Khan) or ‘Tamas’. Of late, Punjabi culture has been seeping back into television drama with new serials such as ‘India Calling’ on STAR One, ‘Maahi Ve’ on SAB TV, ‘Kkavyanjali’ on STAR Plus and ‘Kareena Kareena’ on Zee TV.

Hiren Pandit, general manager, MindShare Mumbai, feels that over the years, the Indian film industry has played a big role in influencing television serials. He says, “To reach out to the masses, it becomes necessary for the television channel to do so.”

Kejriwal of STAR Plus agrees and says, “If ‘Hum Dil DeChuke Sanam’ has popularised Gujarati culture, Yash Chopra’s movies have made Punjabi culture a pan-Indian phenomenon.”

She adds, “The core audience of Hindi general entertainment comes from North and West India. And Punjabis and Gujaratis are the two prominent cultures of these regions.”

Pandit of MindShare adds, “If the storyline is based on a cosmopolitan culture, it’s often considered to be a niche programme, meant only for high society.” However, Pandit is also quick to add that if such regional flavours are forced into the storyline, it fails to appeal to the masses.

Divya Radhakrishnan, vice-president, The Media Edge (TME), cites an example where a programme failed to cut ice with the masses because it featured a minority culture. She says, “‘Batliwala: House No. 43’ could not perform as per expectations because it featured a Parsi family, which didn’t quite have national appeal. This is probably why the channel rechristened the show ‘Kudkudiya: House No. 43’, featuring a Gujarati family.”

Radhakrishnan says, “India is a multicultural country and programmes that portray a culture that people can relate to will always impact viewers. They have a universal appeal to them.”

Other media planners such as Amin Lakhani, director, CTG, Group M, agree that a popular regional culture provides universal appeal to the show. He says, “Regional nuances certainly add spice to a programme.”

He adds, “A large number of viewers for such shows are from cosmopolitan areas where different cultures live together. So even if it’s a Marwari family in ‘Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki’ or a Gujarati family in ‘Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhie Bahu Thi’, viewers from other cultures will want to watch it.”

But there are a few who do not agree with these ideas. As Punitha Arumugum, group CEO, Madison Media, says, “It’s the storyline, content and overall presentation of the show that appeals to the viewers, not the regional nuances.”

She explains, “Every story needs to show an origin. So as long as the nuances in the story are captured well, the show is a success.”

“It only fails when North Indian cues are forced into a South Indian serial,” points out Arumugum.

© 2005 agencyfaqs!

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