7/3/10

Want to sit back at home and enjoy a re-run of those unforgettable moments from your favourite Bollywood films over the years? Well, the small screen offers you that choice in abundance these days.

Every second television soap today has some track that will remind you of popular scenes/characters/songs from Bollywood blockbusters. So, a track of Miley Jab Hum Tum closely resembles the plot of Heyy Babyy, Geet has the concept of Subhash Ghai’s Pardes, Bidaai has a heart-touching scene akin to Maine Pyar Kiya and there’s a bit of the Yash Chopra’s classic Chandni in Uttaran. Recently, we were reminded of Mera Naam Joker, where the young Raj Kapoor has a crush on his teacher, in the new show Tere Liye. And right now it seems like Naa Aana Iss Des Mein Laado is going the Damini film way.

It doesn’t stop there though, as you have actors dancing to film numbers in shows like Yeh Pyaar Na Hoga Kam, Bidaai, Do Hanso Ka Jodaa, Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai, Uttaran and Sasural Genda Phool! Besides, most important characters have a popular Bollywood song assigned to them and the titles of various soaps are inspired from lyrics of film songs, most daily soaps mentioned above being cases in point!

Why do serial makers suffer from this ‘Bollywood fever’? Director-producer Rajan Shahi says, “While the small screen depends heavily on films, films depend on television too. That’s why even filmstars appear on TV to promote their films. On TV, shows that garner higher TRPs don’t really have out-of-the box concepts and people often go with the tried and tested formula. When you want to play safe, the dependence on films is natural. The trick lies in presenting a show differently.”

TV actors aren’t complaining either. “Something somewhere will always be repeated and repeats do have a value. It’s about how an actor performs the scene differently. I did a scene from Heyy Babyy my way. Actors love to do different things but shows work according to audience preferences”, says actor Arjun Bijlani. The budgets of these shows are staggering. “It’s huge money as it includes costumes, jewellery and sets. Sets alone cost three crores rupees and more, while shooting costs around two and a half lakhs to three lakhs a day,” shares Rajan. No wonder, considering the huge kingdoms, spacious green gardens, big rooms and dream homes that one sees on the small screen today. A mere look at the lavish and extravagant sets of shows like Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai, Yahan Mein Ghar Ghar Kheli, Jamuniya and Jhansi Ki Rani, to name a few, tells you that it’s expensive stuff! Besides, they match films when it comes to going out of town for special shoots as well. Recent instances include Bidaai team going to Kerala, Instant Khichdi having a couple of episodes shot in Dubai and Baa Bahoo Aur Baby doing the same in Singapore.

Sukesh Motwani, fiction head of a general entertainment channel (GEC), says, “Bollywood has always influenced people and when small screen characters or tracks resemble those from films, they become instantly popular! But we make sure that the central theme of a show is never inspired from films.”

However, there are producers who turn films into soaps. Recently, Seeta Aur Geeta was moulded into one and there are talks that Jab We Met might be the next choice. Is there an overdose of Bollywood elements, resulting in digressions from the main story? Aman Verma, who has been in the industry for almost two decades, avers, “Be it serials or films, it’s only the story line that attracts audiences even today. Since women are the target audiences for television, we just need stuff that they can relate to. Nothing extra is needed to increase TRPs.”

Rues actress Apara Mehta, “Not just songs or scenes, even tracks of films are now shown in shows! It’s really sad but viewers are equally responsible for this situation.” Looks like it’s going to rain film elements in daily soaps in the name of ‘inspiration’. Well, at least as long as the viewers love it!