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Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah – 1900 episodes and still counting…

Sab TV has defied popular formulae for longevity of serials, by being able to create over 8,000 hours of original content in the comedy sub-genre, without a streak of vulgarity or slapstick

BestMediaInfo Bureau | Mumbai | April 8, 2016


Sab TV’s ‘Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah’ is an amazing family entertainer. It is not really a comedy serial, even though it does have its crop of comic characters. It is not a melodramatic afernoon soap opera either and yet, it is already merely 100 episodes away from the longest running family drama in Indian television -  ‘Balika Vadhu’ or ‘Kachchi Umar ke Pakke Rishte’, which has hit 2,000 episodes on Colors TV and is still running.

‘Tarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah’ (TMKOC) has crossed 1,900 episodes and is still on air, defying popular quotients for longevity of a family show. Sab TV is an established, general entertainment channel (GEC) in 2016, but had a sultry start. Its family entertainer, though, dwelling on the lives of columnist Tarak Mehta and his neighbours in a gated society of apartment blocks, acquired a loyal audience quickly.

The show managed to acquire great stickiness and top ten rankings soon after it went on air. As ‘Tarak Mehta Ka Oolta Chasma’ completes 1,900 episodes in the Hindi general entertainment channel genre, we look at the factors that have worked for the show.

Tarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chasma climbed to the ranks of the top ten shows’ list in the GEC genre, with a 4.3 TVR (as per TAM data) as long ago as September 2010. As on date, the show still enjoys above average viewership of 2.5 TVR (as per BARC data). The two numbers are not comparable, but the show is still on and attracting eyeballs for the channel.

The channel has recently pulled the curtains on two of its long running shows, ‘FIR’ and ‘Laapataganj’, which ran for over 1,500 episodes. Only a few other shows currently airing on the channel have crossed the 1,000-episode mark, namely ‘Chidiyaghar’ and ‘Baal Veer’.

Anooj Kapoor Anooj Kapoor

So, what really attracts audiences to TMKOC and keeps them? Anooj Kapoor, Senior Executive Vice-President and Business Head, Sab TV, had an answer. “We have always stressed on creating light hearted entertainment for family, and not just comedy. We have linear format shows, just like the other drama series, with the only difference of positivity. Our shows have a shade of positivity such that we have happy joint families who are trying to resolve their issues by sticking together.”

Kapoor feels that another reason for the show’s long relations with its audiences, was the content on the channel, which is devoid of bad language. It’s interesting how the channel has been able to create over 8,000 hours of original content in the comedy sub-genre, without a streak of vulgarity or slapstick.

The show is based on writer Tarak Mehta’s weekly column, ‘Duniya Ne Oondha Chashma’ for the Gujarati weekly magazine,‘Chitralekha’. The channel has enough material to churn out about 600 more episodes, based on these columns. Kapoor gives partial credit of the success of the show to the long following of the column enjoyed by many, for decades together.

“Another reason for the show’s success I think are the characters and casting. Other than the loyal audiences of the channel,” said Kapoor, “there are a section of audience who come to the channel merely at 8.30 PM for TMKOC.”

The rural inclusion in BARC calculation has also shown that the channel was attracting eyeballs in rural India too. “Since Sony Pal is FTA and available on DD Direct, we have analysed the SAB shows on that channel,” Kapoor explained. “They are doing pretty good in the rural markets; almost as well as the urban regions. I am sure, once we expand and stabilise our rural footprint, the results will be very good.”

It must be noted that there was a time when all the Hindi GECs sported a lot of comedy and sitcom content. However, since the launch of Sab TV, we haven’t really seen too many sitcoms on the other channels. There are one-offs, like ‘Bhabhiji Ghar Pe Hain’ and ‘Sumit Sambhal Ke’, which have had a good viewership recently, but most of them, like ‘Bahu Hamari Rajnikant’ haven’t been able to attract much viewers.


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