Anil Thakraney: Are crime shows helping criminals?

13 May,2013

By Anil Thakraney


Read a disturbing story in the Sunday HT on how crime shows on television are helping criminals escape the police. This, according to the report, is because these sods learn the tricks used by the cops, and then employ them for their own benefit. Naturally, this is alarming to hear, and given the way India operates, someone will file a bitter PIL, and these crime shows will come under serious pressure. Which will be a pity, because Crime Patrol on Sony is my favourite serial, and the team does a wonderful job. Other channels have launched clones, but they don’t pack in the same chutzpah.


Anyway, let’s examine this issue carefully. There are two parts to this debate: One, do these crime shows inspire potential criminals to take up crime? That’s bullshit, so let’s kill it right away. There’s violence happening all around us. On the streets, in the house next door, in the movies, in the media reports, even in the parliament. It’s all pervading. So to blame TV shows for this is stupid. As a matter of fact, the moral lesson in each crime show episode is this: Crime doesn’t pay. In every single episode the criminal gets caught and is duly punished. In fact, crime shows almost always show the cops in a very good light, and we all know that’s not how it turns out in reality.


The second issue: The HT story reports that because crime shows carefully deconstruct each incident (this is what makes these serials highly interesting), and present the minutest tricks used by cops in their pursuit of criminals, it’s becoming difficult for the police to nab these guys. Having picked up the modus operandi, these criminals are able to pre-empt police action. Now this is quite worrying. Because TV crime shows are based on real incidents (unlike most movies), they are sure to have a bigger impact on a criminal’s psyche.


I have a suggestion to offer: At the risk of diluting the show’s engagement value, the producer should consider concealing the critical processes used by cops, especially those that involve technology. Perhaps the producer can indicate the particular process used, but avoid the detailing. I know this doesn’t sound very exciting, but it’s something that crime show creators need to ponder upon, and very quickly too. Before legal action or governmental interference leads to their closure. And no one wants that to happen!




PS: Absolutely fantastic media innovation. An anti abuse message that only a child can see, and it’s invisible to the adult accompanying him/her. Made possible by some super tech magic. Wonder why such outdoor innovations don’t happen in India, we are (allegedly) a nation teeming with tech wizards.


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