Growing up in the 1990’s or in the early 2000’s was blissful for us Indian-kids because of an array of Indian TV-shows meant for the younger demographic. Some popular ones were ‘Shaka Laka Boom Boom (2000 – 2004)’, Hatim (2003 – 2004), ‘Shararat (2004 – 2005)’ and our very own superhero ‘Shaktimaan (1998 – )’; if we look at the TV shows these days, it seems that there are fewer options for the younger demographic in this decade but is that the reality?
Back when mainstream media channels were introduced in India such as ‘Sony Entertainment Television or SET (Oct’ 1995)’, ‘Zee TV (Oct’ 1992)’, ‘Star Plus (Feb’ 1992)’ & ‘Sahara One (Mar’ 2000), they changed the way we looked at Television. Our experience with TV was not only limited to News but also got extended as an entertainment-box. ‘Sahara One’ was one of the pioneer channels which started streaming Hindi-dubbed version of various animated cartoon shows in India such as ‘Bhallu Sahab Ki Kahani’, ‘Denver, the Last Dinosaur’, ‘The Jungle Book (Mowgli), ‘The Legend of Zorro’, ‘The New Adventures of Kimba The White Lion’, ‘Pocahontas’, ‘Sandokan’ & ‘The Story of Cinderella’; these were parts of one major TV-show for kids called ‘Just Kids’ which was hosted by child-actor Yash Pathak where two of these shows were shown everyday and Bhalu Sahab Ki Kahani (The Great book of Nature) was shown at the end. ‘Just Kids’ was one of the most watched Kids’-show of that time (Source – Wikipedia) in India.
If we take a look at Cartoon-shows that are aired nowadays we’ll see that they are not only limited being mere shows but have influenced the merchandise-market with all its might. According to TOI (Jun’ 2015) the most popular TV show was ‘Chhota Bheem’ which seems to be doing pretty well even now (Link to the survey – http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/tv/news/hindi/Most-popular-kids-shows-on-TV/photostory/47705362.cms ) followed by ‘Tom and Jerry’, ‘Motu Patlu’, ‘Shinchan’ and the list ends on ‘Doraemon’ making it the 10th favorite TV-show for Kids.
I’d like to point out that it’s not that we have fewer options for the younger generation but we have less of quality-content these days. Previously we had only a few TV channels which provided us with kids’-shows but now we have many sister-channels which have emerged from the previous mainstream channels which show only kids’ programs. With the rise of technology and online-based subscription sites, mainstream media channels face difficulty to attain its viewers.
We still have many TV channels which are meant for kids running on air such as ‘Hungama’, ‘Pogo’, ‘Cartoon Network’, ‘Animax’, ‘Disney Channel’, ‘Disney XD’, ‘Nick’ etc. Another major reason of not seeing shows like ‘Shatimaan’ or ‘Hatim’ these days is because of the lack of interest amongst the younger generation. When we were growing up, the television was somewhat fascinating to us and we never tried to question what we saw before our eyes but kids who are being brought up in this decade (2010-2020) are surrounded by technology from a very tender age so television doesn’t fascinate them the way it affected us.
Here’s a list of Programs (Source Wikipedia) meant for Kids which were aired in 1990’s and early 2000’s in India –
Betaal Pachisi (1997 – 1998) DD National
From this list we can get a clear view that not a huge number of options were available back in the day whereas now we have a bunch of kids’ TV channels showing content 24×7.
The mainstream media has stopped producing kids’ shows because A) They are targeting a different demographic altogether due to the rise of many Kids’ channels later in the industry. B) Kids being more prone towards online content rather than being glued in front of the TV.
We have to agree that the way we look at Television has changed dramatically over the years and the same has happened with kids as well; new generation is being brought up way differently than we ever were. I got a chance to Interview Yash Pathak (Host of ‘Just Kids’) and here’s what he had to say:
Q1. As someone who used to host one of the most watched TV-shows in India for kids back in the day; do you think that now we have fewer options for the younger demographic on television?
Ans. First of all I’m very humbled by your comment and to secondly answer your question I believe that the material or the definition of the material for the younger demographic has drastically changed over the years. If you see what we were watching back then say ‘TinyTV’, toddlers used to watch ‘Teletubbies’ there was ‘Bob the Builder’, ‘Noddy’ and all that content, it had a lesson to teach, it had a tale to tell and it used to teach you something. So that content I believe has diminished a lot, now the centre of entertainment just like adults has changed to Internet. Kids have ‘YouTube Kids’ which has parental-control and everything but if you see that content and compare it to ours then it’s lost; our content is lost completely. So the answer to this question is a yes and a no. That content has been lost but there’s a whole universe of different things. Kids these days watch music videos to be entertained. You know we were restricted to those three, four channels; it was ‘Cartoon Network’ and ‘Pogo’ which came in later on. I remember 9’o clock at night ‘Cartoon Network’ stopped showing cartoon. So you see now there’s a huge ocean of content that kids can access hence that’s a yes and a no.
Q2. Do you think there’s not much of quality-content available nowadays for kids?
Ans. Quality is a very subjective concept don’t you think? I think the quality of content for kids is deteriorating day by day. If you’re trying to keep up with the surroundings you know how kids behave in schools nowadays, the way parents are more open to their children and kids from a very young age are more aware of things and more opinionated. I think today’s society and that content is somewhere matching with each other.
Q3. Which TV program do you think should make a comeback which will be popular amongst this generation?
Ans. As a comeback I think ‘The Jungle Book’ and Oswald as well; Oswald is a gentleman, I think he should come back with these cool smartphones and all, I mean I can totally see Daisy as a YouTuber with a hoverboard and Henry would make tech-videos. I think they’d make a really good comeback.
Q4. ‘Just Kids’ changed the way we kids looked at Television; we not only got entertained but also learnt many things while watching it. Which was your favorite cartoon show that taught you the most?
Ans. ‘Just Kids’ had a very simple concept; you learn something and you get entertained at the same time. My favorite show while growing up was Pokémon and it taught you a lot of things like friendship, love and caring for each other and the most important thing was no matter how badly you’re hit, you’re going have to show up the next day being the invincible kind that you are; as Meowth would say to this – “That’s right”.
Q5. Are you a fan of any new generation cartoon-show? If yes, then what do you like the most about the show?
Ans. I’m not a fan of new generation cartoon shows because I hardly get time to watch any but still I prefer Pokémon over anything even though they have new Pokémon coming in and all but I still watch it on YouTube. I think it’s legendary.
Q6. The last question: What’s your opinion on ‘Chhota Bheem’ being the most popular show for kids?
Ans.’ Chhota Bheem’ is like the ‘Patanjali’ of the cartoon-world. It’s homemade, desi and it has values and culture around it. It has a simple concept to entertain kids but also to teach them. I’m glad that it’s at number one spot. I’m quite happy about it.
[Disclaimer: This was a telephonic Interview. He currently resides in Abu Dhabi]