maj 05, 2013

TV producers and their love for Rajasthan


TV producers and their love for Rajasthan
Move over Hollywood and Bollywood. Even the telly industry is smitten by the desert state and wants to have a tinge of Rajasthani flavour in their bouquet of daily soaps. Filmmakers from both Hollywood and Bollywood have been thronging Rajasthan for shoots but the TV industry has not been left untouched by the phenomena, which is visible in the fact that several TRP toppers have been shot in the state.

Season's Flavour
It all began with Saat Phere-Saloni Ka Safar in 2005 and thereafter many shows followed suit. However, the state gained prominence after Balika Vadhu which was was shot here and as the cliche goes, there has been no looking back. So, if Colors has Balika Vadhu, Star Plus has Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai (based in Udaipur),Diya Aur Baati Hum (based in Pushkar) and Zee TV had Mrs Kaushik Ki Paanch Bahuein (Jaipur-based series which wrapped up in March). Adding on to the daily Rajasthani dose is Sony's Dil Ki Nazar Se - Khoobsurat. The story is based in Jaipur. Not happy with one, they have announced another epic drama titled Maharana Pratap. Also, Ekta Kapoor's latest epic drama Jodha-Akbar, which is all set to go on air, has been shot extensively in Rajasthan. And it's not only daily soaps that are smitten by Rajsthan, even the Swayamvar series, that had celebs like Rakhi Sawant and Rahul Mahajan searching for their soulmates, was shot in the desert state.

So why has the desert state become a hit with small screen producers? "We do not decide which shows to air on the basis of the state/region they depict, but one must admit that Rajasthan has a rich cultural fabric and the legends and fables surrounding the state are fascinating, to say the least. Besides, the contemporary avatar of the city where one finds Jaipur's heritage blending seamlessly with the bustle of modernization presents its own canvas for story-telling on television," explained Ajay Bhalwankar, head, content, ZEEL.

All that bling and chaos
Social commentator Shiv Vishwanathan feels that television series have to cater to a certain stereotype and Rajasthan, offers all that. "The chaos, emotion, conservativeness of the state and changing times, makes it a perfect platform to show the vulnerability of women and the change being proactive can bring about. Guess that is what is making it the current flavour for Indian television," said Shiv. It's not just the rich heritage, architecture, history, kings and queens and palaces that brings the television producers to Rajasthan. It's also the rich costumes, as the prime target audience for such shows is women. "Indian audiences love gaudy things laced with a tinge of realism. This state is unique; it has great culture, colourful jewellery and costumes. All these things lend a colourful ambience to a solid teleseries script," opined actor Pratyusha Banerjee, who has just quit Balika Vadhu.

Padharo Mhare Des
Another reason, for the steep rise in Rajasthani flavour on the Indian television menu, is because a number of small screen writers and producers hail from Rajasthan. "As a writer when I conceptualized the story of Diya Aur Baati Hum, I felt that the protagonists need to be based at Pushkar. It could be because I have a strong connect with it," said Shashi Mittal, scriptwriter and co-producer of Diya Aur Baati Hum.

Mittal added that Rajasthan is an Indian state that is often projected as the face of India, and hence, stories based in Rajasthan has an instant connect with the international audience. "When we travelled to Singapore to shoot certain segments of Diya Aur Baati Hum, people could relate to the characters." His views are endorsed by Amit Thakur, head of operations of Shashi-Sumeet Productions. "My producers are Marwari. They love their cultural heritage and want the world to like and appreciate their state. They have two soaps wherein the protagonists are based in Rajasthan. Similarly, if you check the details of television serials that have a tinge of Rajasthan, you will realize that either the producer or the scriptwriter has some Rajasthani connect," revealed Thakur.

It boils down to TRPs
And for those who think that too much of Rajasthan might not be good or is too regressive, TRPs reveal otherwise. "Shows dealing with core issues facing India such as violence against women, child marriage etc, cannot be termed as regressive. If a show has a cause at its heart and awakens people with a fresh perspective, I would consider such a show progressive. So I disagree with the assumption that all shows based in Rajasthan are regressive," said Bhalwankar.