While criminal cases have always been a societal problem, it has always been a fascination for crime writers to include it as a narrative for television audiences. One such long running and popular entity has been Crime Patrol. In today’s day and age, when some shows are pulled off air in no-time due to no-show, Crime Patrol, which is telecast on Sony Entertainment Television (SET), has completed a run of 12 long years.
The show was launched on 9 May, 2003 in the 10:30 pm slot on Friday.
Speaking about the show, Sony chief creative director Ajay Bhalwankar says that being a quality product, Crime Patrol has been a matter of pride from the channel’s programming point. Equating Crime Patrol to the North Star in the constellation, Bhalwankar says, “From a house wife living in Meerut to Shobha De, it reaches across a spectrum of audience. Crime works well on Sony.”
While crime stories are sometimes glorified by adding sensational flavours to the plot, the reality documentary’s writer and director Subramanian Iyer begs to differ. According to Iyer, the viewer decides if the matter on the show is sensitive or not. “The theme of the property is to tell viewers how one can remain safe without sensationalising the story and adhering to the facts,” informs Iyer.
Anoop Soni, who hosts the show, adds, “There’s no intention to pick out a particular case angle and sensationalise it. We bring out the smaller and finer details missed out in mainstream news.”
When queried whether the show glamorises crime incidents in the country, Iyer denies and puts forth two fronts. “Firstly, crime rates saw an increase in the country even when the Ramayana was telecast on public broadcaster Doordarshan. And secondly, cases are picked in a manner that affect the common man of India and poses questions that cannot be asked upfront otherwise,” he says.
Soni, on the other hand, informs that the various cases selected for the show, bring out three critical aspects. “Firstly, we showcase what happened at the core of the story. Secondly, we focus on why such an offence was committed and thirdly, how can such situations controlled from being repeated in the future,” he informs.
The research team of the show’s various episodes are spread throughout the country, right from Jammu and Kashmir to Kanyakumari, according to Iyer. In remote villages stringers are employed regularly to fill in details on various cases. While episodes of normal shows have scripts consisting of 28-30 scripts, one single episode of Crime Patrol can have 2,000 to 3,000 pages of script. Members of the research team also attend court proceedings to understand the nitty-gritty of the cases. However, the team behind the show sometimes need to restrict themselves due to the legal bindings in certain cases.
While Crime Patrol is telecast thrice a week on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 10.30 pm, the channel had previously decided to increase the telecast days. However, the idea was dropped as the process of conceptualising to shooting one single episode was a time taking one and could sometimes take even as long as six months.
Highlighting Crime Patrol’s success, Bhalwankar says that police departments of various states have approached the channel for DVDs of the shows as they feel the show has done justice in compiling the narrative of a case. “The Maharashtra Police has taken 150 such DVDs so far. These are used during the training of police officers,” adds Bhalwankar.
Channel officials believe that the show has, in a way, become a social platform of sorts. “This is so because, besides highlighting a case for the audiences, episodes of Crime Patrol have also provided important NGO numbers and contact details as well as creating platforms where donations were required to aid the victims,” Bhalwankar says.
Sony, in the coming months, is also set for a revamp in terms of programming where it seeks to strengthen its prime time slot during the weekday programming. Talking about the same Bhalwankar informs that four new large-scale shows are being brought on board. These include Dil Ki Baatein Dil Hi Jaane starring Ram Kapoor, two mythological shows – Hanuman and Karna and a yet to be titled show starring Rajeev Khandelwal, which will be centred around the famous Newsroom series.