Journalist Amrita Dutta also rues the fact that there is no room for group family viewing in this age of stories meant exclusively for personal screens. Stuck at home with her aged parents and young daughter during the lockdown, she has felt this pinch strongly: “there is a lack of happy, middle of the road content. It is all driven by a formula, that needs to tick all the right boxes like caste, politics, sex…” She adds that while violence does exist everywhere in India, the trick is in framing it with sensitivity, instead of dehumanising women or trans people, especially, as some of these dramas tend to, in the name of showing reality.
That said, this new wave of streaming content does seem to be connecting with Indian audiences. But it may not yet be ready to capture global audiences, the way Korean drama has successfully done for a while now, or French TV has more recently. Upadhyay says, “there is no reason why this should not happen, but for that, Indian producers need to get ready to talk to the world with more universal themes, even if they keep the stories local”.
But while international domination may be a while away for the Indian TV industry, as of now these shows are taking the country’s own citizens to imaginative places where they have not been before – and many viewers are grateful for that.
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