The first World Television Forum was held on November 21, 1996, and the United Nations has proclaimed the day as World Television Day. Small screen has been a source of entertainment for years and is still loved by all. The day highlights how TV has changed, its purpose, the kind of content it has been showcasing and the way forward. Nivedita Basu (VP content and business alliance, Atrangii TV and OTT), talks about the medium and more.
“I’m proud to say that I’ve worked with Ekta [Kapoor] for 15 years, starting in 2000. Together, we’ve played a crucial role in the history of television. Our inspiration came from the Doordarshan era, but in the age of satellite television, a significant day was July 3, 2000. On this day, Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC) was launched, marking a landmark moment. It was also the time when shows like Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi made their debut, contributing to the rich tapestry of television history. Even though television watching and content have undergone significant changes, it’s important to note that TV doesn’t transform overnight. The trends shift gradually, like around 5% every five years. Looking back over the past 20 years, from when shows like Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi were made in 2000 to now, there’s been a change of about ten to twelve percent overall. This is remarkable, especially considering that a large part of India’s population resides in rural areas where education isn’t as widespread. Media and content have played a crucial role in educating and creating awareness among the audiences,” she says.
TV has also switched to partially the digital medium, and many of us have all these apps which are connected to the TV. “So if you say generally how much content I watch, it’s about 10 hours minimum. I mean, my day is incomplete. Irrespective of whether I’m traveling, working, or I’m socializing, I have to watch content because that drives me, that keeps me happy, me thinking, and that’s the kind of person I want to be,” she adds.
TV has got competition from OTT. “I think even though TV and OTT are quite different, they are starting to come together, especially with something called Premium TV on OTT. Here, people believe that engagement should last longer than just eight episodes for binge-watching. Over the past five years, I’ve noticed a big change in how people watch OTT, even in India. Initially, we wanted everyone, including mothers, to switch to OTT. Now, this kind of television has also moved to OTT, and shorter series are becoming popular. The shift from TV to OTT has happened. But, if you’re talking about OTT content working on TV, that hasn’t really happened because TV changes very slowly. Still, there’s an audience for everything, which is why OTT has also become popular.
On the two things you are proud of being part of The TV industry, she shares, “I take great pride in two significant contributions. Firstly, on July 3, 2000, with the launch of Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, we made history. I was part of that show. Secondly, the introduction of film songs in TV shows was a proud initiative by Ekta Kapoor and Nivedita Basu. I take immense pride in that accomplishment because, after 23 years, it’s clear that almost every TV show now incorporates film songs. They’ve become essential because they convey emotions that resonate with people. Whether it’s a love story or any other emotion, playing popular film songs has become a key element in making TV shows successful. So, the credit for bringing film songs to television goes to us.”
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TV is considered nepotism free but references do matter. “I actually don’t understand nepotism even in the film industry. See anyone who is worthwhile. Yes, of course. As a privileged person, you would get five more chances. But the audience is very blunt. If they don’t like you, they won’t accept you. Yes, you will get more chances than a normal person, which I think any normal person also wants. But I think you can only stay if you have talent within yourself, where you come from doesn’t matter in our field. We are always on the lookout for new faces that can represent our characters and stories effectively. In television, the landscape is vast, and there are more opportunities for actors. While nepotism might be around 10% in films, in television, it could be 80% or 90%. However, we believe in our audience to be fair in their judgment. Television provides more chances to individuals compared to the film industry because there’s a lot to watch and a lot to create,” she ends.