26 March 2019
New Delhi: Over the years, real life criminals have cited shows like "Crime Patrol" and "Savdhaan India" as inspiration. Even though these shows continue to inspire some people to commit crimes, police says keeping an eye on such content is not the solution.
Crime seems to be the flavour of the season in the web as well as TV spaces. "Delhi Crime", a seven-part web series based on the horrific 2012 Nirbhaya gang rape case and its investigation, is currently creating waves in India.
"Sacred Games" and "Mirzapur" also grabbed spotlight.
Producer B.P. Singh, popular for the iconic fiction crime TV show "C.I.D.", is back with a procedural format crime thriller web series titled "Abhay".
Asked about the influence of such shows on youngsters, Subhash Bokan, Public Relations Officers (PRO) of the Gurugram police, told IANS: "Mature people won't get inspired by these shows but there have been some crimes... during interrogation, they (the criminals) said they used to watch crime shows.
"They had anyway thought of committing the crime, but the procedures, how to go about it...they adopted all that from TV shows," he added.
Sharing an example, Bokan said: "A few months ago, a man was murdered. His bike and dead body were thrown in a stream so that it didn't look like a murder. When the culprits were asked how it came to their mind, they said they watched crime shows like 'Crime Patrol'."
So, should the police keep an eye on such shows?
"It's not like crimes are happening from there (shows). They (the makers and channels) are following government norms. There are agencies that monitor these shows," said Bokan.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (New Delhi district) Madhur Verma also thinks it is futile to keep a check on crime shows.
"The stories of such shows are more or less out in the press. Also, as a policy, we don't share sensitive information of investigation details that can encourage somebody else to commit a crime," he told IANS.
"If certain crime shows are entertaining people, we can't put a bar on them. We can't curb (crimes by doing that)."
A source from Mumbai Police agreed that some of the methods shown on crime shows are being picked by criminals "which is not a good thing but at the same time, there is a lot of awareness that is being created because of the shows. So, we have to see them in a balanced way".
Pankaj Shankar, one of the producers of "Savdhaan India", said the crime show's team tries its best to be careful while working on it.
"Our stories are based on real incidents but there is also fiction to build up suspense. We have an in-house creative team and there is a creative team of the channel. At least two or three rounds happen before the story is sealed. Then we send the screenplay to the channel. Once approved, the shooting begins," he told IANS.
As for government guidelines, he shared: "We can't show brutality or rape scenes and certain scenes need to be blurred. There is a legal division who tell us that this or that scene can be avoided."
But when criminals say on record that they take cue from shows like his, does he feel like discontinuing it?
"It's a commercial venture. The stories that we show have already happened. There are crime stories that show that the criminal mind is way ahead of our creative minds. Also, our anchor always discourages (people from committing crimes) and warns the viewers," he said.
Actor Sushant Singh, who has hosted "Savdhaan India", told IANS: "The problem is not with the show. Any person with a criminal mindset will learn only what he wants to learn from a show or a book."
"Love stories and crime stories have been a part of folklore for long. But did everyone turn into a criminal or a majnu? So, don't blame the stories or the shows. Blame the upbringing and the mindset of the individual."
The former host of "Crime Patrol" and actor Annup Sonii said the whole idea of doing the show was to send out a positive message.
"My job as an anchor was to tell the viewers that even though we all have problems, we can't commit a crime because crime will not solve our problems. Our main focus was to create awareness.
"I tried my best not to sensationalise crime cases and not to make the criminal a hero," he said, adding that just because a show is popular, it doesn't give an "excuse" to people to commit crimes.