Any recounting of a real life crime is a tricky situation. I remember stealing “Manohar Kahaniya” from my grandmother and reading the chilling real life stories of murder and rape with a mixture of dread and wonder when I was a kid. It is not a secret that while all of us look upon crime with disgust and fear, we are also plagued by the spirit of voyeurism and there is an adrenaline rush among all of us when we watch these things happen on TV.
This is why I call the idea of re- creating a crime scene on TV tricky. There is the constant lure of falling in the pit of sensationalism, which might get you the TRP’s but you end up losing out on ethics. TV in a medium of influence and that is why how a criminal’s story is presented is extremely important and needs delicate handling.
Crime Patrol- Dastak on Sony TV has got it just right. The presence of the word “Dastak” asserts the preventive nature of the telecast- The series brings to life different incidents of crime in the past everyday with surprising authenticity , but the problematique ( the central theme) is how it could have been prevented in the first place. The ball is thrown in the viewer’s court: He identifies himself with the victim and picks out clues pertaining to the behavior and the circumstances of the crime, and unconsciously prepares his mind for facing an actual crime in future.
The host Anup Soni is an asset. His involvement with the story he is narrating is balanced. He is aloof enough to pick out the gaps from both sides (criminal and the victim), yet manages to express the anguish that a bystander feels when faced with unfair stories. His quick summary at the end of each episode: underlining the points, where various “Dastaks” materialized but were not heeded to, leaves a strong impression on your mind. His appeal as an host is the genuineness and the absence of theatrical antics : as the nature of the crime, his narration seems real and you listen to him.
Another crime show on Lifeok “Savdhaan India focuses on the victory of normal people over criminals. Thought the intent of the series is very noble and a lot of episodes are inspiring, there is a hint of theatrical glorification of the crimes. I would like to cite an example of an episode detailing a train robbery in Uttarakhand , where the profile of the chief dacoit was portrayed in exquisite detail, and as a viewer I ended up thinking, if I had a son , he would choose to be on the bad side. Having said that, the concept behind this series is brilliant and the message is it is sending out is important: There is a hero in every one of us.
Evolution of the Indian TV has been quite noteworthy in the genre of crime non -fiction. TV finally is playing a part in bringing lessons in homes about how to stay safe. Congratulations to the creative teams that think out of the box and make TV , not just entertaining, but intelligent too. TV is not just an idiot box anymore. It brings you lessons that can even save your life. As Crime Patrol puts it: Satark rahen, Surakshit rahen.