What is there about TV writing that makes everything a formula and/or a cliche?

The problem seems to be pandemic. As in its everywhere (and probably everywhen as well).

Take India, for example. You’d think TV there would be new and fascinating and filled with different points of view. But is it?

22soaps-span-600Young Writers tell(y) it like it is
by Nandini D. Tripathy

As the youth genre of fiction rises on the Indian idiot box, the search for new perspective and rule-breaking abounds with young blood entering story and screenplay writing for television from varied mediums entirely outside its confines. And as it turns out, their lack of experience with television and its brand of storytelling is their greatest advantage.

“A person who has already done a lot of writing for Indian television will more often than not work with a formula in his/her mind,” believes Palki Malhotra, creative producer at BBC India. “Young writers, especially those under 21 years of age, are often dismissed as incapable of understanding certain things based purely on their lack of experience in life. But the truth is that today’s generation has a very different take on most situations and it is anything but predictable.

For a seasoned television writer, for example, ‘drama’ will typically constitute an accident or a death. For someone younger, my own experience has shown me that ‘drama’ translates into an emphasis on emotions. Instead of externally dramatic events it is about what goes on inside a person’s mind and heart: it isn’t steroid-driven drama and also explores more grey areas rather than a formulaic black-and-white set piece. Sure, there are some things they write that television cannot accommodate yet but that’s why I’m there to finetune their creation to suit the medium’s limitations,” she asserts.

Vikas Gupta, programming head, MTV India, echoes a similar view as he points out how a lack of knowledge about the rules governing a medium is the best possible route to breaking, bending and moulding them into newness: “Of the younger crop of writers we’re looking to now, most of them don’t understand anything about writing for television, and that’s a huge plus point for me. These are people who come into the medium after a very different level of exposure to a vast range of things: international cinema, literature, different kinds of experiences… all of it feeds into their creativity and since they know nothing about the rules of television writing, their imagination isn’t constrained by its boundaries.

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