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Ficci Frames 2017: TV has addressed a lot of social fractures, says Ekta Kapoor

Kapoor explained how films, TV and digital are three different mediums consumed by the same set of audience in a different manner

BestMediaInfo Bureau | Mumbai | March 23, 2017

Ficci-Frames-2017Day two of Ficci Frames 2017 kicked off with a heavyweight panel discussion on the ‘Grammar of the new TV content’. It was about the changing manner in which content is offered on television and the possible need of tailor-made content for the digital medium.

In the first session of the day, the moderator of the session, Gaurav Banerjee, President and Head of Content Studio, Star India, introduced Ekta Kapoor, Joint Managing Director and Creative Director, Balaji Telefilms, as someone who has written books on the grammar of TV content about 15 years ago. Kapoor spoke how television has changed lives and the clear differentiation in content consumption on digital.

Ekta Kapoor Ekta Kapoor

She started her address saying, “Before speaking about how TV content has changed, we must know how it was. TV is the India’s biggest, most prominent and most aggressive feminist. While films celebrated men, TV has always been about women. We were always blamed for bringing out kitchen politics, for showing snakes turning into humans and characters that were either black or white and not grey. But we forget that as there are (male) protagonist and antagonist in films there are female antagonist and protagonist in television.”

Kapoor emphasised that TV has played a very crucial role in the lives of Indian women, since TV has given them voice. “If you are asking me whether such a great platform will get marginalised with technology, I don't think so. Its challenges actually give birth to fresher and more interesting content,” she added.

Banerjee then pointed out to Kapoor how her content has been tagged as ‘not modern’ and regressive. She smiled and said, “A lot of these questions are raised by India and answered by Bharat. We have a country beyond South Bombay. If there was no identification to these stories, they would not be told.”

Naming a lot of Indian societal norms as ‘social fractures’, Kapoor hinted at the daughter-in-law and mother-in-law relationship which is never smooth, the way a woman has to accept a new household and then, has to fight to get her husband back from his mother and such other aspects. “The main emblem of Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi was the keys being given to the daughter-in-law by the mother-in-law. As you give your business to your sons, you hand over the house to your daughter-in-laws -- that's how it works for most Indian families. But soon enough, the fight for the son starts.”

She showed her belief in how these social fractures were used to convey stories through Tulsi who too faced so many problems from her mother-in-law. “Later, we showed domestic rape where Tulsi shot her own son and two crore people watched it on Indian television at that time. That was probably the only time we brought the issue of domestic rape.”

She went on to add, “Television has addressed a lot of issues related to Indian women even if some people consider it only as kitchen politics.”

She said that a lot of social fractures have been addressed.

After having made TV content for over a decade and then venturing into films, Kapoor had recently launched her own digital platform ALT Balaji. When Banerjee asked about the difference in content on the new platform, Kapoor explained how the three media are separated from each other in the way they are consumed.

She said, “Films, television and digital are clearly three different mediums which actually cater to the same audience in three different ways. TV is a family phase -- it's a five people medium, while films used to be communal viewing content that you can watch with your friends in a 300 people auditorium on the biggest screen. Digital, on the other hand, is about the content you consume alone. It directly talks to you at a time when everyone wants to have individualistic viewing. This medium gives you a chance to watch where you want to watch and what.”

Kapoor said that digital will have stories that could not be told on television because you cannot bring too many radical views on television. On films, one has to think of the economics. “Digital caters to a largest set of audience but each show can cater to a smaller set of audiences and yet manage to hold your interest. It's probably going to cater to the polarised views.”

Karan-Bajaj Karan Bajaj

Karan Bajaj, GM and Head of South Asia, Discovery Networks International, explained how Discovery has decoded the importance of storytelling and the art of fact-based storytelling. “Discovery means fact inspired storytelling and that's how after a lot of analysis we landed up on the decision of increasing the local content.”

Speaking about the scope of digital content consumption, Bajaj brought out an interesting fact, saying, “While the smart TV penetration has gone through the roof in last six months (from 10-12 per cent to 50-60 per cent) in the developed markets, India is the only country that has grown on mobile phones. We are not buying smart TV, but we are buying mobile phones. This is an interesting paradigm which nobody has an answer to. It is a very unique market in that context because if it is only in India then you might end up in a scenario when he becomes the long-format medium and mobile becomes a short format.”

The session had few other speakers who shared their insights on the topic -- Gary Pudney, Head Asia, Keshet International; Robin Humbert, Senior Producer, Trailer Park; Ryan Shiotani, Vice-President, Content, BBC Worldwide Asia and Pankaj Pachauri, Editor-in-chief and Founder, GoNews.

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