The Most-Defining Hindi TV Shows of the Decade

13 Dec,2019

 

By Shailesh Kapoor

 

This is the first in a series of six decade-ender lists in this column. Read the prologue here.

 

It’s been a decade where regional GECs have thrived, even as the Hindi GEC category has struggled to fight stagnation, especially in the second half. But this list is based on Hindi language TV shows only, and hence, does not cover regional shows. The list also does not cover shows that launched in the previous decade (2009 or earlier) and found their peak recognition in the previous decade itself, i.e., several Colors’ shows like Balika Vadhu, Naa Aana Iss Des Laado and Uttaran, as well as other top shows like Pavitra Rishta and Saath Nibhana Saathiya.

Honorable mentions must be made for three shows that just missed making it to this list of 10: Star Plus’ Yeh Hai Mohabbatein and Mahabharat, and Life OK’s Devon Ke Dev Mahadev.

 

10. Kumkum Bhagya (Zee TV)

The Balaji love story launched in 2014, and has been a top-rated show since then, though its consumer perceptions peaked in the 2015-17 period and have thereon been mixed. The show is arguably one of the best renditions of the tried-and-tested Balaji love story template of star-crossed lovers who have little in common except their undying love for each other. Kumkum Bhagya has managed to keep Zee TV in the running for a top position in the category through the last five years, and also given the channel a quasi spin-off in the very successful Kundali Bhagya (2017).

 

9. Bigg Boss (Colors)

Bigg Boss has managed to last through the decade, battling the odd weak season among quite a few strong one. Salman Khan took over as the host of the show at the start of this decade, in Season 4, and the parallel rise in his stardom over this period has benefited Bigg Boss too. The show has now become the standard reference for all task-based reality shows, including many on Colors’ network channel MTV. While Bigg Boss’ ratings may be modest at times, the social media buzz and online consumption (Voot) it garners speaks about its cult status today.

 

8. Bade Achhe Lagte Hain (Sony)

Balaji’s 2011 launch single-handedly turned around Sony’s fiction fortunes. From being a channel that was known and watched only for crime and reality content, Sony suddenly had a 3+ rating show in its kitty, literally in a matter of weeks. This is how good and effective Bade Achhe Lagte Hain was. The Ram Kapoor-Sakshi Tanwar casting lent unmistakable punch to the show, reminding us how good acting can be a gamechanger in itself. The show’s peak following was short-lived, to less than two years. But in that short time, it was arguably the most special thing on Indian television.

 

7. Naagin (Colors)

If you are counting Balaji shows in this list, this is the third, and the last one too. Naagin’s huge success in a weekend slot surprised many. Weekends were traditionally known for non-fiction content, and a supernatural drama wouldn’t get too many bets as a top-show contender. But Naagin became that, not just for the weekends but across the entire week. The show’s fourth season launches this December. The second and third seasons have not been able to build on the first season’s magic, but the franchise has even firepower to keep it going. There’s enough and more to write about this show, and this 2016 article written in this column may be a relevant read for those interested in more.

 

6. Crime Patrol (Sony) & Savdhaan India (Life OK/ Star Bharat)

The crime reconstruction genre has thrived through these ten years, and it would have been unfair to pick the show that pioneered it over the one that has taken the baton ahead, or vice versa. Hence, Crime Patrol, which had an amazing run in the 2012-14 period, and Savdhaan India, which gave its channel a lifeline in the most-troubled times, share this spot. The two shows actually have very different presentation styles, but between them together, they have created a genre that carries such immense viewer appeal that even fatigue with the overdose of such content has not managed to dampen it beyond a point.

 

5. Diya Aur Baati Hum (Star Plus)

Shashi-Sumeet Productions’ show on a woman’s journey to become a cop, with her husband by her side all along, ruled the ratings charts and the audience’s hearts alike for almost four years in the first half the decade. Diya Aur Baati Hum is a rare show that actually led to visible social change, triggering off interest among young girls to join the police force, and enabling their parents’ acceptance of this idea. Sandhya’s journey has been a source of inspiration for many women in small-town India in particular. Even as the Hindi GEC category continues to be attacked for its negative and regressive portrayal of today’s India, this show continues to remind us of the progressive social change television has the power of bringing about.

 

4. Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai (Star Plus)

Rajan Shahi’s show launched in early 2009, and was an instant hit for its resonating portrayal of the life of an Indian woman through the various positive emotions and challenges she has to face, especially in a post-marriage scenario. Almost 11 years later, the show continues to thrive, staying true to its core idea of being a positive and uplifting portrayal of the great Indian family culture. The lead Akshara has been now replaced by her daughter Naira, but unlike many other fiction shows that lose the plot over time, Yeh Rishta… shows how a long-running show is still possible in today’s age if you have a strong idea at the heart of it.

 

3. Kaun Banega Crorepati (Sony)

Sony brought back the iconic show in 2010, after a three-year gap since the previous season on Star Plus. I often wonder if KBC would have ever come back on air if Sony did not need a disruptive gamble to revive its dwindling GEC fortunes in 2010! But on air it was, and for eight seasons over the decade, all but one of which have been hugely successful. Every season brings with it something new, and yet, the idea of the family sitting together and watching KBC has remained intact. As has the show’s impeccable host, who exemplifies excellence in television hosting.

 

2. Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah (Sab)

The Asit Modi-produced show started off as a light family entertainer in 2008, and was initially dismissed as a “regional” success, given the heavy skew in its ratings from the Gujarat market. But over the decade, the show has managed to break this geographical barrier inch by inch, through its wholesome, family-inclusive and clean comedy. The show’s lead character Jethalal is also the most popular Hindi GEC character of the decade (Ormax Characters India Loves). Many comedy shows over the decade have attempted to recreate Taarak Mehta…’s success. But nothing has come even close. And that tells us how special this one has been.

 

1. Comedy Night With Kapil (Colors) & The Kapil Sharma Show (Sony)

If there was a title of the Person of the Year for the media & entertainment industry for this decade, Kapil Sharma would get my vote for it. By virtue of being a top comedian on Sony’s Comedy Circus, Sharma got his opportunity to get a show of his own, and that’s when his came into his own. Starry tantrums, co-star issues, channel issues and many other such controversies have come in the way, but Sharma has managed to stay afloat, and is back with renewed energy over the last year or so. May he have another decade, and more, of ruling the small screen. Because when it comes to comedy for the masses, he’s running a solo race.

 

 

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