Perspective | Mythology on television: genre re-energized to attract eyeballs

Mythology as a genre in arts, culture and literature has always ruled millions of Indian minds. Many of us have grown up listening stories of Ramayan, Mahabharata, Krishna etc. Similarly, our country has always cherished mythological shows. Well, I guess in this context, all of us know the story of the abandoned streets of Sunday mornings in late 1980's to mid 1990's! You got it right: the deserted roads on every Sunday morning during Doordarshan’s Mahabharata!
Having said that, we see, since the last few years, mythological shows which were lost in the memory lane have made a come-back of sorts, but this time in a completely different avatar! We see channels are going digital in promoting their shows. For example: Zee has a different Facebook page for their newly launched show, Ramayana, giving a chance to the viewers for aarti and darshan! On the hind-side, mythology based shows like Jai Santoshi Maa, Jai Jai Bajrangbali were not being promoted to such an extent. Is it that earlier, the TG was the senior citizen section and thus that kind of picturization? In contrast, the approach is totally different with Mahadev and Ramayan, as the channels claim to target the youth and thus, social media and digital mediums are being added as media platforms to offer these products.
We at Adgully spoke to a few experts for understanding the thought process and the scenario.
Ajit Thakur, Star India says, “Mythology is very much a part of who we are as Indian’s and every story has the potential to bring the whole family together like no other story can. With Mahadev, we have taken the storytelling and treatment to the next level for any mytho in India. The look of the series is very different from anything seen before on Indian television. Beyond everything else, Mahadev's story is of such relevance to India and the world today. Life OK has always been about stories that inspire the ‘aam aadmi’ and how we can make a difference to their lives. Every episode of Mahadev has something for us to learn from.”
“We have initiated many innovative marketing strategies for Mahadev. It started with the channel launch where we did an 8 hour live Mahadev Rockathon on the day of launch. And in the coming months we have some major plans,” he added.
When asked if such kind of content and format works towards getting more eyeballs, Suresh Mishra, Asst Director, Sahara One Media and Entertainment Ltd, says, “Certainly yes, because we have a very attached audience for mythological shows who love and watch them. If we see one year back when we launched ‘Jai Jai Bajrang Bali’, we have always grown and picked up from then and which demonstrates that we a very loyal and avid audience watching such shows. Sustaining the already ones we have added more numbers which proves the fact the such content helps in getting more eyeballs.”
Sukesh Motwani, Head- Fiction, Zee TV believes that excess of everything is bad. The viewers get bored watching same genres. He says, “Our mythology is full of knowledge and depicts the rich understanding in a way making us be aware of the values and principles of life. Mythological shows will always be there in our lives and in television also. They will not lose the track and traction! I think we ate Zee have always accepted mythological show approaches but it’s just that we never had a perfect slot for that, which is why we came up with ‘Ramayana’ now. The concept will always rule our minds and now it’s just that the standards of execution are improving with every passing year.”
Responding to the question whether or not does such content attracts more eyeballs, Motwani said, “No it’s nothing like that. It’s just people want something different and so it depends how we at the channel make it happen and mythology creates a strong connect.”
Paritosh Painter, Producer, Shri Adhikari Brothers believes that mythology has always been with us since we were born or may be from our childhood to specify more. “It would always attract the eyeballs if it is presented well”, he opined.
When asked about the advertiser’s reaction to such shows, Mishra said, “Yes advertisers also show a good amount of interest as they are also getting a value product to bet upon as at the end of the day good viewership and numbers is what advertisers and clients want.”  
According to Mishra the target audience has completely changed. The focus has shifted to youth and females from elderly ones and so accordingly, the promotional strategies too, have changed. Also, the focus is now to target universal audience.
Speaking about the target audience being changed now, Motwani said, “Yes, actually the fact is older generation is usually an avid viewer. But these shows also hold of content that attracts youth or kids sometimes. The elder generation has always been inclined towards such genres but the challenge is to connect the youth.”
Paritosh said, “As for me, mythology will always rule and also it has been really famous among the kids as well and among the youth.”
Conclusively, Motwani believes that it’s all about how you present and write the show. Today, the channels should have the quality of attracting universal audience. Basically the genre will always appeal but what matters is the presentation.
Thus, of what we got as an understanding, the channels have changed the TG focus and the writing and presentation of this genre is being critically worked on and newer media platforms are being utilised to reach the newer audiences. We at Adgully, just hope that with efforts like Mahadev and Ramayan beginning to create a stir amongst the viewers, Indian audiences will get more of ‘gyaan vaani’! | By Aanchal Kohli [aanchal(at)]

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