Karan Kundra: TV is dying a slow death
TV actor-turned-host Karan Kundra on why content-driven shows don't garner TRPs, and how the web benefits
Feeble discussions around the depleting content on Indian television picked up pace a few years ago when protagonists metamorphosing into houseflies and serpents emerged as bankable storylines. Among those whose fictional shows took a supernatural turn is Karan Kundra, who, in an interview to mid-day, recalls an outing that had him turn into a tiger.
"The show was supposed to revolve around a music teacher's protégés - his son [played by Kundra] and a local boy - and how they fall in love with the same girl. It was a simple and sweet concept, but didn't work. So, overnight, they made me a tiger. I was like, 'I didn't sign up for this. What happened to the beautiful story?'" the actor says of the Ekta Kapor-production, expressing his concern over the "slow death of television".
That makers are willing to go forth with such uncanny storylines isn't surprising, given that they often attract eyeballs, says Kundra. "Within a week of me turning into a tiger, the TRPs went from 0.9 to 2.5," he shrugs. Ahead of his Bollywood outing, Vikram Bhatt's 1921, with Zareen Khan, the former small screen actor reflects on how the motive behind making a television outing has changed over the years.
Reflecting on the '80s and '90s, when tele watchers were witness to revered shows like Hum Log, Buniyaad and Wagle Ki Duniya, Kundra says, "Back then, producers were not worried about garnering TRPs, because there wasn't the burden of managing the kind of finances that producers need to today. The television industry has grown. Artistes would earn R1000 to R1500 per month. Now, people earn lakhs for a single episode." The prevalence of over 700 channels implies that producers are also under the pressure of delivering shows that garner TRPs, he says. An increase in the number of tele viewers, says the actor, also implies that there are more people, and varied choices, that producers must cater to.