Perspective | Rising crime on Indian GECs!

There is a surge of crime shows in the GEC space on television channels especially in the weekend programming. Of late crime as a genre has been grabbing the viewer’s attention on this medium. The trend initially started with DD’s Karamchand, a light-hearted crime show sometime in the 80's. But now we can see the change and evolution in that trend with the recent shows on Crime. Keen observation shows that there are two - three categories in the GECs today, which garner quite good numbers. Last week we discussed how mythological shows have made a comeback and garnered amazing numbers. Crime genre has always existed in television but channels who have predominantly been ruling the market with soaps are  now  seen altering content and there is a the upsurge of crime based shows.
 
CID, launched sometime in 1998 has been ruling in this genre since then. But with new offerings like Crime Patrol Dastak, Adaalat and Savdhan India, channels have started taking the genre more seriously . In the international market the shows in this genre such as CSI Miami, White Collar, CSI New York, Criminal Minds, The Mentalist etc. have always made a deep impact on audiences  and  garnered good numbers. But in the Hindi GEC market there has been a sudden shift of focus towards this genre.    
 
Today we see every channel has atleast one show in the crime genre be it a Hindi GEC or a Marathi GEC and they have been doing phenomenally well in their respective markets. Even the channels which solely target the youth have an offering in this genre.  CID , Crime Patrol and Adaalat are running successfully on Sony, Savdhaan India is doing well on Life OK. Arjun on Star Plus, Police files on Big Magic and Panchnama on Star Pravaah, a leading marathi channel are the other shows in the ‘Crime Genre’ on television today.
 
Adgully spoke to some industry experts like Vivek Bahl, Chief Creative Director, Sony Entertainment Television; Ajit Thakur, Life Ok; Zubin Driver, CEO, Pundalik- a multi-media creative agency; Piyush Jha, a well known ad-film director, screenwriter and a novelist; Subramanian S Iyer, Writer & Series Director, Crime Patrol and an agency spokesperson from BIG Magic to understand the on-going trend in the industry. We share with you their views and opinions on the same:
 
 
Vivek Bahl says, “The challenge for the weekend is to set up strong characters and a hook in the concept of the show itself which will attract viewers week-on-week . Sony took the lead in differentiated fiction content for the weekend slot at a time when others were banking on big movies, events & non-fiction.  It has paid off for us. Now, others are following our example and attempting to create content which can be appealing to viewers. With the scenario now starting to get crowded, we’re prepared to work hard to retain an edge over others.”
 
Commenting on the subject under discussion Piyush Jha said, “Yes, crime fiction is a genre that is getting a lot of attention. I believe the reason for this is crime in real life is gaining a lot of coverage but in spite of this many cases are lying unsolved. Today the viewer watches  crime which invariably depicts justice for  the victim  and this  in turn fulfils the viewers desire that justice prevails in society.”
 
 
An agency spokesperson from BIG Magic is of the opinion that while criminals are constantly adopting new techniques and methods to accomplish and establish their criminal network, it poses a challenge for the law enforcing agencies and has become ten-fold tougher for them. These shows will instill  courage  in people and make them alert to avert crime in society.
 
Zubin Driver believes that while crime genre has been interesting it will always attract only a certain sect of audience.  This genre will get upgraded but it is also observed that the treatment of crime shows have changed. Earlier when Doordarshan aired ‘Karamchand’, the treatment was very light and it did not portray  hard core crime . But times have changed and today the definition of 'crime show' has changed totally. It has become realistic. As on date it is important to make realistic crime serials.”
 
 
 
Subramanian S. Iyer also second's Mr.Driver’s views and is of the opinion that crime shows always work. He said, “Crime Patrol that was initially aired in the 11pm slot worked  well and that too success wise it was parallel to the soaps on the channel. So it is obvious, that if a show of this genre can do well for us in this slot, then why can’t others replicated it!” 
 
Novelist Piyush Jha made his debut with a crime thriller. Sharing his thoughts and ideas on books in this genre, he said, “My idea was to write fun and entertaining crime stories that engage and thrill readers . Jeffery Archer novels and  Alfred Hitchcock movies have never failed to thrill me. Believe me, there is no greater excitement than being involved in fictional crime and turning the pages to figure out whether the bad guy is the one who you thought it would be.”
 
 
Ajit Thakur too is of the opinion that crime shows do work in garnering more numbers. He says, “The reason behind offering such shows is really simple. The audience did not have much choice where variety of genres was concerned other than the daily soap operas and hence keeping true to our commitment with Life Ok, we came up with Savdhaan India.”
 
Is this genre helping  in attracting more eyeballs? “Yes, the crime based shows of India are not glamorous or sophisticated and mostly don’t have happy endings. Yet viewers keep coming back for more,” says an agency spokesperson from BIG Magic.
 
It is believed that people watch such serials and identify themselves with the events that unfold before them. “There is always a chance to learn how to dodge circumstances. For instance, while you are hiding, always remember to switch your mobile to the silent mode. Basic awareness about consequences is important. People are always under the impression that such incidents can only affect society at large and not them inspite of witnessing cases in their neighbourhood,” adds the agency spokesperson from BIG Magic. Ajit Thakur believes that the genre does attract more eyeballs given the fact that audiences today are looking for  something different on television.
 
 
We have learnt how the crime genre is making waves and is popular with channels today. In this connection  media professionals also spoke about  competition amongst the channels and what differentiates each from the other. This is what they had to say 
 
Explaining the thought and idea with regard to their show in this genre on BIG Magic, the agency spokesperson said, “Crime is an increasing concern not just in India, but globally too. Police Files & Pyaar Ya Dehshat is an endeavour to bring about an awakening to fight crime in UP, MP, Bihar & Jharkhand by  Hindi Heartland’s popular entertainment channel BIG MAGIC from Reliance Broadcast Network.”
 
Explaining the thought behind his show, 'Panchnama' that airs on Star Pravaah, Zubin Driver says, “We have always been different with our offering. We have a different concept wherein at the end of every episode we get a senior Police officer to advice on safety measures that can be taken  and defend oneself in any situation.”  Another attraction includes  Mahesh Manjrekar the anchor of the show speaking about ‘Criminal Psychology.’ According to Zubin Driver, their crime show garners more eyeballs than other daily soaps!
 
Ajit Thakur explains the concept of ‘Savdhaan India, India fights back’, a crime-based offering by Like Ok. He said, “Our concept is really different and  through our show Savdhaan India  audiences become aware of the increasing crime situation in the city and we guide them as to how they can deal with it.”
 
Subramanian opines that every channel has its own strategy and space. He says that the way CID has ruled the television space is totally phenomenal. “Offering a show of this genre for 15 years is not easy. There have been many shows similar to it but CID has always stood out strong among the Crime genre space,” he said.
 
He also went on to say that Crime Patrol has always offered something different and they  have kept growing better by the day. He says, “We have never taken it as a challenge .We just tell stories that entertain and is liked by the audiences. If you see in the span of one year, we have never done any kind of gimmick for the show. We have not offered just crime to our audiences but tell stories which we feel must be told.”
   
In view of the inputs from the industry veterans, we can conclude that ‘crime shows’ today have their own definition in terms of entertainment and awareness The shows today have a different concept altogether . They  entertain and also impart awareness at the same time. It also becomes evident that what works for one channel can  become a trend in the market. But what is noteworthy is  how every channel  stands out differently inspite of  the same offering from a host of other channels!

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