Fiction mein Dum nahi hai

SET Max and Star Plus launched high profile quiz-game shows this summer, spending close to a crore on its hosts for each episode.Sadly for them, the two game shows on television aren't doing well at all. Dus Ka Dum hosted by Salman Khan on SET MAX delivered 2.5 TRP ratings on the day of its debut (June 6). Shah Rukh Khan's quiz show, Kya Aap Paanchvi Paas Se Tez hain, on Star Plus got a first rating of 4.61 on April 25, before it dropped to 1.97 on June 6. For comparison: the inaugural IPL match between Kolkata Knight Riders and Bangalore Royal Challengers had 7.2 TRP. [Source]

Definition of TRP (For those who aren't clear about it)
TRP is measured by TAM Media, a joint venture between AC Nielsen and IMRB. They monitor TV habits in Class I towns (population greater than 1 lakh). One TRP point indicates that 1% of the population was watching the show. When used for the broadcast of a program, usually the average rating across the duration of the show is given. [Sources 1,2,3]

I was amazed to note that the sample covers only approximately 7000 households (translating to 30,000 respondents) across India, represnting around 35 million television households. Whereas across India there are close to 100 million households with a television set! Anyway, I'll continue the article with the assumption that the data collected is representative of the whole population.

What went wrong ? Was the problem in the show promotions ? No. In fact, both channels made heavy investments for that too. Star Plus definitely did a better and more rounded campaign than SET Max:

- Lots of humourous TVCs about normal people claiming that they are better than 5th graders(like this)
- A song-and-dance featuring Sharukh and the kids featured on the show (here)
- game tie-ups with Indiagames [Source]
- some viral campaigns too [Source]

In comparison, DuskaDum's campaign had been lacklustre.

- There were a bunch of brief 10 seconds promos announcing the name of the show followed by a key sponsor. These were mainly airted during the IPL matches (Note to SET : the fact that L'Oreal or LG is the sponsor is not an incentive for me to watch the show!)
- In a few others, Salman Khan would swagger up to the screen and mumble something about Dum.
- A song-and-dance sequence featuring the host himself (here)
- And of course, they had to start a blog about the show by Salman. They didn't even give the poor thing its own domain, hosting it on Blogspot. It is regularly updated, boring and clearly fake.

When the magic doesn't seem to be happening, they try to tweak the format a bit: Like Sony attempting to change from a generic music reality show to K for Kishore to decide a KishoreK prodigy. The singers, saccharine praises and judge antics however remained the same.

Then they try to add more drama: Like the RocknRoll Family show on ZEE where the whole family jiggles on stage in moronic costumes, and Ajay Devgan& Kajol try to cook up praises while adjudging awards like 'Best Dada' and 'Best Dadi'

Then when all ideas dry up, they just up the prize money hoping that'll be the clincher (like DusKaDum).
Me-too ideas have bombed multiple times!

Entertainment channels have a nice spectrum of shows spanning Fact and fiction. Fiction is when you know you are viewing imaginary characters, in an imaginary world - irrespective of the vivid depiction (like the K Serials). Fact is when can relate to the participants - you enjoy the rush of 'Had I been in his position' (like in Antakshari or KBC or Aaja NachLe). Reality shows forcibly plonked themselves somewhere in between, where we know the contestants are for real, but the scenarios are increasingly unreal.

Lets have a recap now!

Females with oodles of makeup giving each other the stink-eye in K serials: Fiction
Amitabh Bachchan doing an impression of Deewar on request from a KBC contestant - Fact with a sprinkling of fiction
Singing Contest Participant's candid outburst along with inputs from mummy, papa and the neighbours - Fact with dollops of fiction

In a recent promo for DusKaDum, the contestant (female of course) expressed her predilection for a song from 'Maine Pyaar Kiya'. Magically, they happen to procure the same song during the show. And then Salman and she danced while the audience cheered. Don't you think this time they went too far ?

In an attempt to the have the best of both, you are left with neither. When you try to entertain the audience, yet use 'one of them' in the nautanki, you have the risk of confusing them. When forced to innovate within the same format, the only immediate fix that occurs to the show developers is to dramatize things further.

Well, it doesn't work that way.

Related Readings:
Afaqs did a great analysis of a peculiar Indian phenomenon - of families still persisting on owning a single television set. They site some detailed and interesting reasons for it.


  1. "Are you smarter than a fifth grader?" which is telecast simultaneoulsy on Star World is a lot better. The fault lies with the format of the show. Some of the sponsors apparently felt let down when they were shown the Indian version, but by then already 90% of the episodes had been shot!!!!!!Now with both the shows failing, no one is happier than Subhash Chandra...


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