‘The Times They Are a-Changin’–Bob Dylan’s song is what the folks at Doordarshan must be singing their hearts out right now as DD has shattered all the TRP records and emerged as the most watched channel across genres in the just concluded week of 28 March to 3 April. Amidst the nationwide lockdown in the wake of Wuhan virus pandemic, the return of classics, from Ramayan to Mahabharat to Shaktiman has propelled DD’s rise to the top.
From a measly 1.2 million impressions in week 12 starting on March 21, the viewership for Ramayan has exponentially grown to 545.8 million impressions in week 13 starting on March 28, according to Broadcast Audience Research Council-Nielsen (BARC) data released on April 9.
Ramayan, created by Ramanand Sagar and primarily based on Valmiki‘s Ramayan and Tulsidas‘ Ramcharitmanas, the TV series was an enormous success back then when it released in 1987 and it is an even bigger success now as its viewership grew 454 times in the morning and evening slots combined.
B.R Chpra’s magnum opus–Mahabharat, based on the writings of Ved Vyasa and rated 8.9/10 on IMDB has boosted DD Bharati’s (sister channel of DD national) viewership 365 times to 145.8 million impressions in week 13 in the morning and evening slots combined.
Other classics like Shaktimaan, Byomkesh Bakshi, Shriman Shrimati, Buniyaad, Dekh Bhai Dekh, Circus are also thoroughly entertaining the TV audience and paying rich dividends to DD.
Shaktimaan, India’s own superhero that can rival Marvel’s Avengers has also given DD National a substantial boost — a 52-fold rise to 20.8 million impressions.
The detective-sleuth show Byomkesh Bakshi saw an 11x growth in viewership from week 12 (0.4 million impressions) to week 13 (4.5 million impressions). The 1986 TV drama Buniyaad saw 2.7x increase in impressions as week 12 recorded 0.06 million impressions, and week 13 the impressions were 0.16 million impressions.
The private GEC channels have been left lagging in the race. DD which did not used to fare in the Top-10 list of most watched channels a little more than fortnight back has catapulted to the top owing to its content-rich shows that had popularised DD in its glory days.
People who grew up in the late 80’s remember the sweet nostalgia of waking up on a Sunday morning and waiting with bated breaths for a television show that defined the majority of Indians’ connect with its rich past legacy. The show Ramayan was/is a pinnacle in TV show history of the country. Made on a shoestring budget with an unconventional airing time slot, the show rose above it all and captured the imagination of the whole of India. Finally, The gods of Bharat had a face now.
Similar is the case with Mahabharat and all the other shows that are acting as a bridge between the boomers, Gen X, millennials and the Gen Z at the moment. With people confined to their households, the shows have seen a massive boost in popularity and the young generation is also lapping up to it readily and soaking in the Indian history. The rich-tapestry of culture and tradition of India can be best understood through the goldmine of TV shows that DD possesses and it certainly seems to be the case of DD’s rise to the top—much like a phoenix.