Sunday, August 12, 2012

Soaps in Indian Operas

112 million households in INDIA have television sets. I wanted to exploit the world of the IDIOT BOX (what many people refer TV as).Using simple Google statistics I found more then 60% of these Indians watch Soap operas. So I decided that I would also make a soap opera and make myself “PROUD”.

Once I decided what I wanted to do, I started researching on the no of Soap operas in India. To my astonishment I found out, over 500 TV Channels and almost 4000 no of TV serials exist…How to compete against such a vast empire was the first jolt I faced. But since I had already made my mind I decided to carry on. I started researching, how this empire began and how does it function. 

I began by interviewing the script writer of a very popular soap opera. What the scriptwriter said –

To write a script for a soap opera is not at all a tough task. All you need to do is fundamentally set a mother in law as a cruel heartless bitch, Set a daughter in law as a sophisticated, vulnerable, loyal, trustful type of a lady and set a husband as a joker in the between. Once this is set you can create infinite no of characters surrounding them. Just keep in mind after every 4 good (nonessential, useless) character one bad character has to be introduced to maintain the balance. This was his golden formula. Also when asked on how they manage to run it efficiently for so many years he replied-It is in fact quite simple. You will learn it when you meet the cameramen’s. But if you must know I recall a quote-

“A circle has no ending. Hence Create a circle.”

Impressed by the writer I moved on towards the cameramen. This is what the cameramen said-
The first thing you should know is Indian audience don’t have a good, fast and efficient thinking, mindset. They don’t react quickly. So the soap operas must move as slow as possible (at the pace of turtles).For example if the scene is- An empty glass falling on the floor. What as a camera man you should do is make the glass fall at normal speed once? Then make it fall again twice maybe at varying speed and at different angles (Because our Indian public don’t have fast thinking and mindset)with different sound effects. Then once you show the same stupid scene at least three times, Move your cameras to all those people standing/sitting in the living room(Doing nothing in particular…Just waiting for the glass to fall).Start with the first character. Blink! Try some of the creative effects available. First bring his face from the left, Then from the right. Then try zooming in and out. And slowly try your creativity on all the remain characters present in the living room. When asked how they manage to engross the audience, he said you will come to know when you visit the director. But if you must know I recall a quote-

“Time waits for none in the ideal world. In the world of Indian soap operas time varies its pace”

Quite confused I approached the Director. This Is what the Director said-
You must know the golden saying- Time waits for none in the ideal world. In the world of Indian soap operas time varies its pace”. And one should always honor that. Moreover you should know, Indian public has enormous patience (are Jobless if you want to be precise).To exploit this what you should do is-You should first learn the importance of the word RECAP. This is an extraordinary word that drives the Indian SOAP opera forward! Once you understand that-Always at the beginning put a recap. In India recap should not be a small recap.IT should show the entire previous episode. This ensures that the Indian public which do not have a great mindset (stupid if you must say) would be able to link up to the current episode. 

Then I went to the behind the scenes makeup artists.
To engross the Indian public only love sagas are required. To entertain them we work very hard. We “decorate” theses women’s with varying kgs of gold. We dress them up in various beautiful sarees.Each day a new one. We import makeups in cartons and follow a golden formula of 1kg of makeup per character per day. Since you are a guy you won’t understand the details about dark eye lashes , and nail polishes and what not so just to tell you in brief-“We have the skills and products to display a boy as a girl, to transform a sachin Tendulkar to Amitabh bachhan, or to convert ice crystals into gold.
Totally feeling out of place I went to the men’s section. There they said –“Men’s makeup is quite simple. Just dress him up in formals, apply bucket full of hair gel and always make him wear shiny, polished shoes and an expensive watch irrespective of whether he is at home, at work, is sleeping or is eating. Also make sure he is well groomed and our part is done.”

I moved on towards the Producer and the Finance team. This is what they said-
Soap opera is basically a money making industry(and making a mockery of the Indian public).There are plenty of sponsors out there who are willing to pay handsomely even if you manage to tie hundreds of people, captivate them into looking at their products. But since we are good people we don’t  bind or captivate people. Rather we show them our episodes our creativity. What we basically do is before the serial starts we show them a list of sponsors. Then every 5 minutes we take a break and show them individual advertisements of all our sponsors for at least another 5 minutes. And again we show 5 minutes of our serial and take a break(To understand it the other way think of a busy crowded Indian road. Imagine you are travelling in a 4 wheeler. Then breaks are equivalent to the brake. Crap episodes equal to the clutch. And good creativity equals to the 4th or 5th gear).

Lastly I went to the creative head. This is what he said-

A creative heads post is quite a valuable one. I have loads of stuff to do. For example whenever an evil bitch comes I have to find an appropriate vulture soundtrack. Whenever we don’t have a decent script I have to manage to link the current episode to the past ones and try to finish up the day. I have to make sure whether 1kg of makeup is applied every day or not. I have to make sure The TRPS remain strong. I have to invent new ideas and concepts like loves circles(Nth order integration of love triangles),or reincarnation of people from death, Or if some cast member has to be replaced then I have to stage an accident, Change his face using plastic surgery and then replace him with some new guy. Also I have to visit my astrologer for my favorite alphabet “K” and I have to think of creative or pathetic names starting with K so that my TRPS do not fall and my shows remain successful.SO overall I have loads of work to manage and to make sure Indian public don’t realize what pathetic losers they are by watching soap operas.

There after I stopped for a while. Trying to make sense of what just happened. And I realized soap operas are effective medium in fooling the masses. Without even having a good script, good actors, proper camera crew I could make pathetic ,lame ,pointless ,silly ,”RADDI” TV serial  And even then my serial would be lapped up by public. Followed in masses twice a day, and discussed everywhere.

And this was how the beginning of my successful soap opera “Kkkabhi Shakespeare bhi kabhi blogger tha” began!

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