The Fear Of The Unknown

Posted in Cinema by Suganth on June 29, 2009


Shows on paranormal occurrences are becoming a major draw on TV. CT finds out…

Suddenly, the Tamil television scene is abuzz with shows that deal with the supernatural. A host of shows exploring the unknown are garnering high TRPs and more channels are getting into this paranormal business.

Why this sudden spurt in such shows? Says director Naga, who made a name for himself in this genre with his Marma Desam and Vidadhu Karuppu, “Everybody believes that there exists a super natural power. The inquisitiveness about the unknown is what makes people watch these shows.”

Pradeep Milroy Peter, head of programming, Vijay TV, which kick-started this recent paranormal trend, explains why the channel took this direction, “There is an area in mysteries which is neither crime nor magic; events that you don’t know where to place and which the scientific community will not approve. We decided to slot such incidents on our investigative show, Kutram – Nadandadhu Enna, every Thursday. The feedback we got for such shows was tremendous. But soon, other channels got into this.”

The channels competitors on this issue are 24×7 news channels – Sun TV and Kalaignar TV. While Sun News has a show Nijam that like Kutram focuses on crime but also allots space for mystery and occult, Kalaignar Seidhigal is about to launch a similar show very soon.

“We’re starting a new show, Boothakannadi, on our 24-hours news channel Seithigal which will be telecast from 8.30 to 9 pm every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. The show begins this Tuesday,” reveals a spokesperson from the channel.

And, to stay ahead of competition, the channel has recently added one more show on paranormal incidents! “While Kutram was about showcasing mysterious incidents as they happen, Suzhiyam has a different format. It is about things that you can only say about and are not documented. It is mainly an eye-witness account and hence the need to create events that happened before and after an incident,” says Pradeep.

So, how do they go about producing these shows? Says Vijayarangam, input editor of Kalaignar Seidhigal, “We’ll probe incidents that are a puzzle to our analytical minds and those that have an element of suspense. We want to ensure that the show has enough pep to grab the attention of our viewers.”

“We send in our field reporters first to do a reality check. We also take the guidance of experts, who have done researches on the subject. Once when the authenticity is confirmed, we’ll send our camera team to film. Usually, if we investigate 15 incidents, only five will make the grade. The rest, we have found, will have been blown out of proportion,” explains Pradeep.

But, aren’t these shows encouraging superstitions? Pradeep disagrees, “We do not fictionalize and don’t glorify the incidents as we feel there is no need to cook up stories to add more drama. We don’t certify anything. Certain people do believe superstitions. So, we always have experts and psychiatrists who present their views on the incident. So, it is a balanced report.”

Vijayarangam too seconds his view. “We won’t take that angle. In fact, our implied message in these shows will be not to trust blind faith,” he says.

However, Naga believes that these shows do tend to convert the vulnerable cat-on-the-wall types to believe in superstitions. “Television is a powerful medium and there are many who believe things shown on TV at their face value. The shows today have this shot from the rooftop approach that makes the vulnerable people believe in superstition. Superstitions have been rampant in our society since stone age. These shows supplement the superstitions,” he says.

Adds Naga, “My premise and concerns were different. I took up a superstitious belief and tried to find a scientific explanation through a fiction. In Vidathu Karuppu, I could explain the mysterious serial killings happening in a village with multiple personality disorder. Similarly, in Chidambara Ragasiyam, which dealth with naadi josyam, I explored if you could predict a person’s future through his genetics. I never gave a solution. Now, even news channels have got into this.”

His view is somewhat justified by an interesting note that Pradeep reveals. “Recently, we had superstitions and tantrics as the topic in our show Neeya Naana. After the show, we received a number of calls from our users requesting details about the tantrics who talked on the show. Sadly, there were no calls about the medical experts!”

Copyright ©2009 Chennai Times

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