The millennials and the Gen-z constantly bashes the Indian entertainment industry and the old bashes the cinema of today. How often do we really look into the making of either of the two sides of the Indian cinema. Cinema is an art form and art depicts the time and age, everything you like and don’t like tells you something about you and your time. So, how long till the rotten-old bark falls off?
Demand and supply, that’s how the market works; no demand no supply. Television obviously wasn’t in every house in India in the 20th century. But at whoever’s house it was, the general consensus was to watch sports or news or perhaps occasional gathering for an entertainment show. Doordarshan, I still, after a decade of its downfall- from my memories at least- remember its music. In 1987 Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayan started to air on DD, until then the broadcast channels had policies against broadcasting religious programs on a regular basis. The decision to screen the religious epic was taken under the Congress government. Just after that, BJP took the “centre-stage of politics,” as claimed by L.K Advani and was backed by the Ramjanmabhoomi campaign. The man in charge of this campaign VHP’s Ashok Singhal acknowledged that the Ramayan serial was crucial in inspiring recruits into the andolan. After observing the success of the serial, another religious epic was broadcasted, Mahabharata and DD claimed the top spot through those years.
It’s fair to say that the average population in India at that time wasn’t educated and the only knowledge they had about the world and its history was mostly through religious symbolism and folk songs, and this is where it clicked for them; a serial they were really curious about. Because of the change in policies about TV shows and other broadcasts, the sphere of audience for DD has now broadened. Now this makes the observation about the depth of demand clear: relatability, interest and novelty (the unique way an idea can be presented to the audience).
Now in today’s age the factors have changed, BigBoss used to be the absolute epitome of TV, now it’s the way to go to get a laugh at the stupidity of the enactments. It’s interesting to observe how the same old base plot of a mother-in-law trying to kill/vanish/remove/demean the daughter-in-law is still one of the best ways to make your TV show be seen. We go back to the demand and supply equation, only when there exists a craving for these types of shows that the producers keep on making them. Another proof of the same is that Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube and many other platforms are creating a set of shows that relate to the young generation (the new growing audience). The demand for the lame, boring, repetitive shows will decline overtime. People don’t necessarily observe the new trend in the TV; TV is dying and online media is taking over. What is the content in that sphere? Things relatable to the young; depression, anxiety, mental disorders (Joker 2019 was not the highest R-rated film of all time for no reason), societal pressure to be successful by 25 or 30, loneliness, overly judgemental parents and the list just keeps running forward.
The question ends fairly simply by the term ‘time’, but nothing ever really ends; its replaced and what is replacing the old relatable shows are the new relatable shows. No wonder parents dislike or don’t understand the new TV or the new misunderstands the old. It was real for that generation; mothers-in-law did threaten the daughters-in-law for dowry or a hundred other things, blatantly laughing at those shows makes us turn a blind eye to the factors that are in the demand of those shows; the era. Cinema is an art form and art tells the tale of its era, watch carefully what the art around you is depicting.
Department of English, Jamia Millia Islamia