In these times of intense audience fragmentation and shifting loyalties, there are several serials on Hindi general entertainment channels that have crossed the 1000-episode milestone. What explains their non-stop run? Have creative directors run out of saleable story ideas or do these shows still have loyalists among viewers and advertisers?
It's the season of 1000 episodes on Indian television. In the last few months, several serials on Hindi general entertainment channels (GEC) have crossed the 1000-episode mark. Daily serial Uttaran which went on air on December 1, 2008 on Hindi GEC Colors completed 1000 episodes this November after a couple of generational leaps and umpteenth twists and turns in the storyline which kept the audience hooked. Only a few months earlier, Colors' flagship show Balika Vadhu too had breached the 1000-episode milestone. Again, comedy serial Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah completed 1000 episodes on Hindi GEC SAB TV last month. In October, Star Plus's long running daily serial Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai too joined the 1000-episode club. Zee TV's Pavitra Rishta too seems to be on the same track with more than 900 episodes of this Balaji Telefilms creation having been already aired.
To be sure, the overall number of 1000-episode shows still remains small compared to that of the pre-2008 era when serials such as Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, Kahaani Ghar Ghar Kii, Kasautii Zindagii Kay, Kkusum, Kumkum - Ek Pyara Sa Bandhan, Woh Rehne Waali Mehlon Ki, Bhabhi and Baa Bahoo Aur Baby all made it to the 1000-episode club. That was the time when the viewer followed her serial religiously, everything that happened in a serial made a difference in the life of a viewer and fashion trends were dictated by what the protagonists in these serials wore. But today when audience fragmentation is the norm and attention spans are short, it's no mean feat to keep television viewers coming back to see the same show five days a week for four long years. In the Hindi general entertainment space it's all the more tougher given the bloodbath this genre has seen in recent years– three channels (9X, Real, and Imagine) have seen the axe, peak television rating points (TRP) have plunged to 4 from a high of 14, even as a host of channels have come up across genres targeting the same audience.
Much credit goes to the storyline of these long-running serials. “The