The revolution of the digital medium has translated to more content and variety for viewers. When the OTT boom began, makers pulled out all the stops, pushing boundaries in terms of language, content and even depiction of certain taboo subjects, capitalising on the lack of censorship. While films and shows containing edgy or explicit content have been loved, there is a sect of viewers who enjoy their share of family-oriented shows such as Home Shanti, Dil Bekaraar, Gullak and Yeh Meri Family (YMF). This, in turn, makes one ponder if the web space should offer more for family audiences.
Actor Akshay Oberoi, who has been appreciated for his role in Dil Bekaraar, says: “I feel there should be more family-oriented content, but then there should be more takers for it as well.” He goes on to share how OTT players check what’s trending and sanction shows accordingly. “I think platforms are pushing for more family entertainers to get a break from the edgy stuff,” he adds.
Mismatched is another show that appealed to the audience due to its relatable story, family dynamics and young characters. Viewers also enjoyed watching college life come to life in Kota Factory and the coming-of-age show Aspirants.
Actor Manoj Pahwa feels the core of “entertainment in India” is watching content with one’s family. “Aadmi aisa programme dekhna chahta hai jo family ke saath dekha ja sake. Sure, stories about drug mafias and gang wars are working, but it is a trend. A simple story like Home Shanti (which he stars in) was loved, as was Gullak. There is a demand for such subjects as viewers want something other than dark, edgy content. Family-oriented subjects get good viewership and they are fun. Kota Factory was about students, Panchayat was light-hearted story set in a village, Scam 1992 was a good drama… Logon ko maza aaya,” he elaborates.
Actor Lubna Salim, who stars in the show The Aam Aadmi Family, says, “When we started, it was a risk, as everyone was making path-breaking, dark and edgy stuff. But, we realised there is an audience that wants to watch clean content at home. In two years, we did three seasons of our show… I feel there should be more family-oriented content on OTT.”
Actor Mini Mathur, who has “grown up on family entertainers” and watched them with her family on Sundays, misses such content today. Mathur, who recently shot for season two of the show Mind The Malhotras, says: “It took me back to a time where the whole family could enjoy the same show… Such shows (family-oriented web series) might be slow to come by, but things are changing.”
Director Akarsh Khurana, who has worked on YMF and Mismatched, feels eventually, a balance will be sought. “There is a silver lining when a show like Panchayat comes along and does well. OTT should be a melting pot and have variety. Over time, high quality will stand the test of time and gimmicks will not,” he adds.
However, Salim feels “new, experimental content” is lacking these days on the web in general, not in terms of family shows alone. “When OTT began, whatever couldn’t be shown in films or TV was shown via OTT content. Sadly, people got stuck in that thought and we saw a surge in dark, edgy content,” she rues.