What Is Wrong With Indian Television And 4 Lessons It Can Learn From Korean Shows

Just the other day I read about the launch of a new Indian show with a popular face as its lead. Since I was once a fan of the male lead I decided to check it out. The very first scene I saw had two heavily bejeweled women arguing with each other (anybody surprised?). Lady number 1 is telling lady number 2 to leave all hopes of winning over her husband as lady number 2 is nothing more than just a mistress to her husband. It took me one scene just that ONE SCENE to spot its resemblance to a Korean show I had seen in the past. I decided to hang on and check if my instinct about the show was true or not. A few scenes and a pre-cap later I was 108% sure that the show’s plot is ‘inspired’ by the popular Korean Drama ‘The Heirs’. I was excited as I thought it was the Indian adaptation of The Heirs. After enduring another episode full of highly clichéd scenes, and cringe-worthy dialogues, I gave up all hopes of seeing something even remotely interesting. The show makers had clearly just lifted the general plot of The Heirs and nothing else. How could I forget that this is Indian television and expecting something interesting is my foolishness! 

SnG Comedy hits the nail on the head when trying to answer the question ‘Why Does Indian TV Suck?’  Have a look at their video and you will know why I whine about the lack of good shows on Indian television.


Being a certified K, J and T -Drama (Korean, Japanese and Taiwanese) addict I kind of understand what makes those Asian shows so popular and interesting worldwide compared to our Indian soaps. Here are 4 points that our Indian show makers could learn from K-Dramas.


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1. Limit a Show’s Life

The biggest problem with Indian soaps is that it just never ends. Its drags on till the audience lose interest in the show. Why do that? Why end on a bad note? Why not retain a shows’ value by ending it at the right time? But no! Our show makers will not do that. They will drag it as long as they can. Writers are forced to add unnecessary angles and characters that just kill the soul of the show. Shows take leaps where the original characters have to play three times their actual age. New faces are introduced who re-play the same script in an apparently different manner. That’s just not done! Such things even affect the actors credibility as once the actor ages in a show it is very difficult to be accepted as a younger person in another show which is why many good actors walk out leaving the audiences in a lurch. To watch or not to watch?

Lesson 1: Limit the life of a show. End it on a good note so that audiences have fond memories of it and not feel embarrassed to admit to having watched it.


2. Good Looking and Competent Cast

Asian dramas often adapt mangas. Korea, Japan, and Taiwan have their own versions of popular mangas. Boys Before Flowers and Itazura Na Kiss are two of the most popular Japanese manga series adapted into shows and each of these countries has its own version of the manga that is tweaked slightly to suit the respective audiences. However, of all the adaptations available, the Korean version usually scores high because of good actors and high production value. Most often, it is the good-looking male protagonist who helps boost initial interest in a show.

However, just looking good does not help, the cast has to act well too and Korean shows do not lack that either. TV actors like Lee Min Ho, Song Joong Ki, and Kim Soo Hyun have a huge fan following in Asian countries not just because of their good looks but also excellent acting skills.

Lesson 2: Hire some really good faces that also know to emote.


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3. Good Music

Every Asian drama addict knows the importance of a shows’ OST (original soundtrack). A shows’ music helps you connect with the characters. Korean dramas are rife with exceptional music tracks. Some tracks are so magical that you will want to listen to them even if you do not understand the lyrics.

Lesson 3: Indian shows like Remix, Miley Jab Hum Tum, Iss Pyaar Ko Kyaa Naam Do and Left Right Left offered some real good music. Avoid recycling film songs. Please take us back to those days where a show’s music was given great importance.


4. Experiment With New Plots

Korean shows experiment with a wide variety of topics. There is a show for every type of audience. Sadly, Indian show makers are of the opinion that the audience is accustomed to only a specific kind of drama and fear experimenting. But they fail to understand that there are all types of audiences in this country. The Indian audience is receptive and will demand various types of content. Showmakers must understand that there is a reason why TVF pitchers are so popular in India.

Lesson 4: Try introducing fresh new plots, stories, and concepts. You never know, you might just strike gold.


Korean dramas are not perfect. They also get repetitive at times but they do know how to present an old wine in a new bottle. All I can say is that Indian television works according to TRP’s and does not mind compromising on quality as long as the numbers are stable or rising. It is sad that good shows like Sarabhai Vs Sarabhai had to end because of lack of TRP’s. People still watch its episodes online and have been demanding another season (Update: I am so glad that they are starting a new web series. Wooohoo!!) but in the end, it is the ratings that decide the future of a show. I wish Indian television adapts not just Korean show plots but also some of its creativity and willingness to experiment.


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Feature Image Courtesy: 1,2,3,4

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