Telly's top 10
1. Balika Vadhu (Colors)
This Colors flagship show set a record of sorts, zooming to the top of the charts within 12 weeks of being on air. A daily fixture for many, Balika Vadhu traces the trials and tribulations of child bride Anandi who is married at age eight and plunges into an unfamiliar life.
Launched with a TVR of 0.7 on the day Colors beamed into households, its viewership has grown with every episode. In September, its TVR rose from 2.9 to 6.8, making it one of the few shows to have taken such a huge leap in such short time. According to TAM ratings for the week ending November 1, Balika Vadhu is the most watched show on television, with a TVR of 5.42. It has played a key role in helping Colors give STAR Plus a run for its long-enjoyed numero uno position. Today, the Balika Vadhu phenomenon has made celebrities out of child stars Avika Gor and Avinash Mukherjee, with industry pundits hailing the response as an indicator of the audience’s changing (read non-saas-bahu) preferences. Even the reruns during the strike have people tuning in! “With Balika Vadhu, we are striving to give the audience something fresh and unexplored while working within the same boundaries. The show entertains even as it delves deep into a social issue like child marriage. The strong subject has been accentuated by superlative performances,” says Ashwini Yardi, programming head, Colors.
Viewerspeak: “My entire family is hooked to Balika Vadhu. Simple and unpretentious, the serial gives us a break from the ostentatious and OTT saas-bahu dramas. The strike has hit us hard. Even my seven-year-old nephew keeps asking why we aren’t watching the serial anymore,” says college student Mansi Shah, 21.
2. Bidaai (STAR Plus)
The story of two inseparable sisters with conflicting fortunes who are compelled to chart out their individual destinies, the year-old Bidaai came at a time when viewers were looking for hatke content. Bidaai didn’t turn out to be too hatke, but the identifiable characters and slice-of-life situations struck a chord. New faces Sara Khan and Parul Chauhan invaded Indian living rooms and Bidaai ruled the TRP charts for months, till Balika Vadhu ended its dream run a few weeks ago. Despite that, Bidaai loyalists have ensured a consistently high TVR for their favourite daily. In the week ending November 1, Bidaai recorded a TVR of 4.87. “When we started Bidaai we had no idea that it would be so big so soon. From grandmas to college students, Bidaai has become a part of many peoples’ lives. Its growing popularity has compelled the channel to increase its half-hour slot to an hour-long one. That’s probably a first for Indian television,” says Rajan Shahi, producer and series director of Bidaai.
Viewerspeak: “I have never been a soap-watcher, but then I never missed a single episode of Bidaai before the strike. Bidaai is a must-see for its credible characters and simplicity of plot and treatment. I want it back on air soon!” says 32-year-old finance executive Ruchika Raina.
3. Jai Shri Krishna (Colors)
Mythology has always been huge on Indian television and Jai Shri Krishna seems set to follow the Ramayan-Mahabharat success story. The story of Lord Krishna’s childhood, the show has nothing that one hasn’t seen or heard before, but its following — among the young and the old alike — is to be seen to be believed. “The presence of a lovable child god makes the show popular. A large number of kids watch it and its universal appeal ensures that adults tune in too,” says Yardi of Colors. The latest TAM ratings put Jai Shri Krishna at the number three position with a TVR of 3.25.
Viewerspeak: “Jai Shri Krishna reminds me of my childhood days when Ramayan and Mahabharat were a must-watch. The kid who plays Krishna is very cute. My three-year-old tries to pinch his cheeks whenever the show is on air! I don’t even mind watching the reruns,” says homemaker Ratna Saha, 30.
4. Raja Ki Aayegi Baraat (STAR Plus)
The story of a young prince who falls in love with a maid working in his palace has all the ingredients for a small-screen blockbuster. The year-old show with its Mills and Boon overtones has its predominantly female audience hooked. Raja Ki Aayegi Baraat is one of STAR Plus’s major revenue earners with a TVR rating in the region of 2.5 to 3. Lead Anjali Abrol is a household name. “A simple story and lack of gimmicks contributes to its popularity,” says producer Richa Sharma.
Viewerspeak: “The show is a topic of discussion in my kitty parties. With the strike on, I feel I haven’t watched it for years,” says schoolteacher Santwana Ghosh.
5. Kasamh Se (Zee TV)
Ekta Kapoor may be facing rough weather with many of her shows, but Kasamh Se has given her a lot to smile about. A Zee TV biggie, Kasamh Se deals with the changing equations between three sisters complete with the staples — bitching and back stabbing, murder and malice — that go into making a Balaji blockbuster. Over the past year, Kasamh Se has been a regular on the TRP charts with a TVR hovering between 2 and 2.5. The serial also gave Bollywood a fresh new face, Prachi Rock On Desai. “Kasamh Se works because every episode throws up something new. The audience is kept engaged all the time,” says actor Ram Kapoor, who plays the pivotal role of businessman Jai Walia.
Viewerspeak: “Our entire family comes together to watch Kasamh Se. Despite its long run, the show has never been boring. The strike couldn’t have come at a worse time because Kasamh Se is poised at a very interesting stage,” says PR executive Nayantara Chakraborty.
6. Kis Desh Mein Hai Meraa Dil (STAR Plus)
Colors may have taken some of the sheen off its armour, but STAR Plus still boasts of some of the most popular shows on Indian television. Ekta Kapoor’s Kis Desh Mein Hai Meraa Dil is particularly popular among young people, if the fan groups on Facebook and Orkut are anything to go by. A family drama centred on the Prem-Heer love story, KDMHMD recorded a TVR of 2.38 on the TAM charts for the week ending November 1.
Viewerspeak: “Kis Desh… has a believable storyline and the characters seem like the people we would meet in our daily lives. I hope the strike lifts soon because that’s the only show I watch on television,” says marketing professional Sanjukta Banerjee.
7. Nach Baliye 4 (STAR Plus)
On the Indian telly, nothing quite succeeds like reality shows. Especially if it has anything to do with small screen celebs shaking a leg, real time. The three seasons of Nach Baliye have been smash hits and edition 4 —even if it is early days yet — seems to be a winner already. Having broken into the top 10 TAM ratings in only its second week, Nach Baliye 4 has its viewership growing by the day. “Nach Baliye works for the celebrity quotient, the high-calibre dancing, the jodi romance and story progression,” says Anupama Mandloi, senior creative director, STAR India Ltd. The presence of a dishy Arjun Rampal and a still-hot Karisma Kapoor means ample eye candy, ensuring a consistent TVR rating of 2+ for this Friday-Saturday dance show.
Viewerspeak: “My mom and I have been huge Nach Baliye fans from season one. The new twists and turns in the format this time around have made the show even more interesting. We were looking forward to the next episode which was to unveil the wild card entry,” says mass communications student Minakshi Sinha.
8. Maayka (Zee TV)
Coming up with a show that spoke to women about their Maayka was a masterstroke on the part of its producers. Maayka may not have much to offer in terms of novelty, but the show’s consistent showing on the TRP charts speaks of its popularity. Recording a healthy TVR rating of 2+ on most weeks, Maayka has played a key role in helping Zee TV remain a frontrunner in the TRP race.
Viewerspeak: “As a married woman, I can identify with the problems that the protagonist Mahi faces,” says homemaker Shivangi Surekha, 34.
9. Indian Idol 4 (Sony)
It may still be taking baby steps in its fourth season, but the hugely successful previous editions have ensured that most viewers have been tuning into Indian Idol 4 since Day One. The show that crowns a new singing star every year reportedly recorded 7 crore votes for the season 3 finals! Breaking into the top 10 in its first week, Indian Idol 4 recorded a TVR of 3. “The audience feels a special connect with Indian Idol because the contestants predominantly come from small towns and can be you or me. I feel that Indian Idol is one of the better talent shows around with a credible selection process,” says Idol judge Sonali Bendre.
Viewerspeak: “I look forward to the weekend like everyone does, but only to watch Indian Idol. Those two hours of the show on Friday and Saturday is the only time during the week when I watch TV without getting up from my seat even once. The strike has come as a big blow, especially when the subsequent episodes were going to decide the list of the final 15 contest contenders,” says college student Ashutosh Bansal.
10. Sa Re Ga Ma Pa (Zee TV)
This one has been going strong for 15 years now. The latest edition — Challenge 2009 — has contestants coming from even Pakistan and Dubai with the judging squad comprising music stalwarts Shankar Mahadevan, Pritam and Himesh Reshammiya. Sa Re Ga Ma Pa may not be setting any TRP records, but the show is a huge favourite with the young and old. Calcutta is specially hooked — city boys Debojit Dutta and Soumen Nandi are going great guns on the show!
Viewerspeak: “My family has been watching Sa Re Ga Ma Pa since its initial days, when Sonu Nigam was the host. The strike has meant no new episodes, but we are enjoying the reruns. The Salman Khan special episode on Saturday night was great fun,” says software engineer Subhrajit Roy.
SURVIVING THE STRIKE
Yeh toh sabka boss nikla! Despite the strike, Colors show Bigg Boss — a popular show with a TVR in the region of 2 — has continued unabated. With no play-acting or shooting schedules involved, new episodes are being aired everyday direct from the Bigg Boss house in Lonavala. “We couldn’t keep the contestants locked up in the house for an indefinite period waiting for the strike to end,” says Yardi of Colors. So while the audience has been forced to give their favourite shows a miss, the Rahul-Raja-Ashutosh-Zulfi masti has kept them following Bigg Boss. Not to mention the bootylicious Shilpa Shetty smiling out of that couch! The Bigg Boss ratings are now all set to soar higher before the November 22 finale.