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Bachchan’s Yudh loses ratings war

- Dark drama fails to catch on

Indian TV’s most expensive show has been losing the Yudh for eyeballs.

Lock kiya jaye?

Going by viewership ratings, yes.

Amitabh Bachchan, who had ruled the small screen with Kaun Banega Crorepati, has failed to recreate the KBC magic in his debut television drama Yudh, a three-week-old show about a construction magnate who takes on a host of people, including corrupt cops and greedy politicians apart from a debilitating neurological problem.

According to data released by television audience measurement firm TAM, Yudh — on Sony Entertainment channel — clocked a dismal 1,199 TVTs (TV viewers in thousands) in its opening week.

The figure suggests that only a little over a tenth of those who watched the most popular series in the genre — a soap called Diya Aur Baati Hum that got a TVT of 10,488 in the corresponding week — watched Yudh after it opened on July 14.

The Monday-to-Thursday series — each episode costs an estimated Rs 3 crore, although it couldn’t be independently confirmed — ends on August 14.

The TVT dipped further in the subsequent week to 1,126, sources said. The figure for the third week is not available yet. An industry source said the low TVT was probably because Indian audiences were not yet ready for a “Yudh-like no-nonsense, dark and intense drama series”.

The thriller, which boasts a strong line-up of actors like Kay Kay Menon, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Sarika, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Zakir Hussain and Mona Wasu apart from the 71-year-old Bollywood star, was expected to be a big draw.

Created by acclaimed filmmaker Anurag Kashyap and directed by Ribhu Dasgupta, the 20-episode show narrates the story of a real-estate baron tackling business rivals while dealing with his neurological disorder.

“In Yudh, Bachchan plays Yudhishtir ‘Yudh’ Sikarwar, a construction magnate who has the unenviable task of deciding which of his two children (one of them with his ex-wife) would inherit his vast, hard-earned empire; fending off greedy politicians, bitter rivals and corrupt policemen; and dealing with the hallucinations that occur as a result of the disease that is slowly killing him. Such lukewarm response of the audiences for a show with a stellar cast has confirmed that the general masses are not yet ready to accept such kind of innovative shows,” said a Mumbai-based media commentator.

“Last year, Anil Kapoor’s thriller series 24, which was a remake of an American show of the same name, suffered a similar fate but even that had got better ratings than this show,” she added.

“One reason could also be that the programme is aired after prime time at 10.30pm, which is too late for many audiences. It’s obvious that just like films, there are categories within the TV drama series and one can’t expect masses to tune in for such intense, cerebral shows yet. These are meant only for niche audiences.”

At the moment, television audiences seem to be satisfied with the saas-bahu soaps. A show such as Diya Aur Baati Hum is a top runner while Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai — that has been running for the last few years — is still going strong with about 8,300 TVTs.