from America, shown in India
The weathervane of Indian
television swings with the winds from the West. When a show on American
networks makes trp waves, Indian networks set their sight on it. They zoom
in on its concept, cleanse it of all American qualities, and tailor it to
suit Indian cultural sensibilities.
Indian viewer is treated to endless
re-runs of old episodes of Friends. But nobody is complaining
Star Plus hit gold with Kaun Banega Crorepati. Amitabh Bachchan hosted this
desi avtaar of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? and the nation was hooked.
The original Millionaire game show was born in the UK. But when abc aired
its American version in the 1999-2000 season it became the hottest show
on television. Another American import is Indian Idol, now showing on Sony
Entertainment. This interactive music-based show kicked off in October,
2004 and is currently the seventh highest viewed Indian series. This show
is a clone of Fox network’s hugely popular American Idol which became
the most watched non-sports show in the network’s history. The format
of both shows is the same — three judges from the entertainment world
and viewers from all over the country select a pop idol who can sing and
dance. In America, the winner is promised a record deal. Here, the prize
will be a passport to the world of Bollywood playback singing.
Talent hunt shows have been around on American networks for a long time.
Indian channels keeled over to the talent hunt wave in a big way in the
’90s. Shows like Boogie Woogie on Sony and Dance Divas on Zoom invite
aspirants from all over the country to display their dancing talents or
lack thereof on television. Most Indian chat shows have echoes of The Oprah
Winfrey Show. Simi Garewal’s Rendezvous sports the ‘come cry
on my shoulder tone’ a la Oprah. Karan Johar does a similar but less
saccharine version of it on Koffee With Karan. Smriti Irani too tries out
the same tactics in Kuch Diil Se, her show on sab tv.
So much for the clones. American sitcoms like Friends, Sex and the City,
Frasier, Will and Grace have loyal audiences in India. So do reality shows
like Fear Factor and dating games like Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire?.
The Indian viewer is treated to endless re-runs of old episodes of Friends.
hbo airs episodes of Sex and the City which are more than a couple of seasons
old. But nobody is complaining. On Friendship Day (August 1), Zee English
aired episodes of Friends back-to-back all day long. “I watched all
the episodes with a group of friends,” says 23-year-old Shobhini,
a Delhi University student. “We had fun and by the end of the day,
we were talking to each other the way the friends on the show speak to each
Looks like the Yankees influence not just our TV viewing habits, but also
our interactions with the world.