Shailesh Kapoor: Adventure? You’re in the wrong country!

04 Apr,2014

By Shailesh Kapoor


The new season of Khatron Ke Khiladi (KKK), the Indian adaptation of Fear Factor, went on-air this March. In its fifth season now, KKK was the launch vehicle for Colors in 2008. Barring a forgettable season with Priyanka Chopra as the host, the show has offered top quality production and hosting. Yet, it has met with only limited success on the viewership front. The current season has opened better than the previous ones, and offers more content variety. If the numbers sustain, this may end up being the most successful season till date.


The tough journey of the show does not surprise me. We are not the adventure-loving country where such TV show formats find natural traction. Adventure sports and activities are not only low on awareness in India, even those aware have little inclination to try them. Hence, the experience of any adventure-based TV show is unlikely to be immersive. The adrenalin rush is restricted because of the watch-from-a-distance mindset with which such shows are consumed.


Two other successful television properties use adventure as a theme too. However, they focus more on the human angle to achieve viewer traction. MTV Roadies is about expression of the youth, than about biking. Man vs. Wild is about survival and the human spirit of excelling against all odds. Both are learning and inspiration led, albeit in very different ways.


Go beyond these three shows and you will struggle to recall any other adventure shows in the two-and-a-half-decade history of Indian satellite television. Survivor India, Star Plus’ brush with the genre, was a washout, reinforcing that the success of Roadies and Man vs. Wild is also restricted to a limited audience base, and the wider GEC audience care little about this genre.


Lack of adventure signifies that the market (India) is low on experimentation, exploration and curiosity. We like our lives well planned out, and the focus is on a collective unit (family) than on individual pursuits. This mindset also lowers the appeal of other genres such as travel, food and science, which are led by similar core needs as adventure.


The infotainment genre is the most affected here. To their credit, they have managed to understand the Indian mindset well, and created a steady flow of local programming that is more conducive to the ‘safe’ needs the market caters to.


Over the next few years, one may expect evolution as new generations take over. But with the subject being so inherently cultural in nature, this evolution may happen at snail’s pace, unlike other changes we are seeing around us, e.g. the whole-hearted embracing of technology our country has witnessed over the last decade.


I’m glad Colors has pushed the envelope and kept faith in KKK. Television is a part of the larger pop culture, and one would hope that shows like KKK do their bit in making a small difference in creating more exposure for a largely inward-looking populace.


TV Trails is a weekly column written by Shailesh Kapoor, founder and CEO of media insights firm Ormax Media. He spent nine years in the television industry before turning entrepreneur. The views expressed here are his own. He can be reached at his Twitter handle @shaileshkapoor


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