Small screen on the big stage

The President of the Indian Television Academy, Anu Ranjan and actor Shashi Ranjan give us the low-down on the upcoming 22nd ITA Awards
President of the Indian Television Academy, Anu Ranjan and actor Shashi Ranjan
President of the Indian Television Academy, Anu Ranjan and actor Shashi Ranjan

The 22nd Indian Television Academy (ITA) Awards will be held in Mumbai on December 11. The awards — which recognise television content across streaming and network channels — have grown in popularity over the years, edging out popular film awards in ratings and scope. This year, for instance, ITA received over 3,000 entries from 250- plus channels and production houses, and will honour achievements in Television and OTT besides a different vertical for technical awards.

The event will be attended by the corps d’elite of the Indian entertainment industry and witness a clutch of performances. “It’s a fabulous feeling to be entering our 22nd year,” says Anu Ranjan, President, ITA. Anu founded the Indian Television Academy in 2001 and leads it with her husband, actor-producer Shashi Ranjan. “Televised entertainment plays an integral part in people’s lives,” Anu says.

“They want to see their favourite artistes win. For context, the last edition of ITA had better ratings than major Hindi film awards.” This year, veteran filmmaker Rakesh Roshan has chaired the ITA jury. There are also ‘Popular’ awards decided by public voting.

Names like Karan Kundra, Karan Wahi, Maniesh Paul, Kapil Sharma, Munmun Dutt, Shubhangi Atre Poorey, and others have made the Top 5 lists in popular categories. From OTT, actors like Bobby Deol (Aashram season 3), Pratik Gandhi (The Great Indian Murder), Neena Gupta (Panchayat season 2) and Sushmita Sen (Aarya Season 2) are leading the charge of popular nominations.

“We received 1.1 crore plus votes this year,” Anu shares. “Over the last three years, we have touched the 2 crore plus mark.” The votes, Anu explains, are audited through an external firm for fairness. It’s a lengthy process of separating the online wheat from the online chaff. “There are duplicate votes from bots of course, but the audit firm has systems of filtering out the fake votes.

Around 70-80 lakh votes go out.” ITA included OTT shows under its ambit from 2020. Anu, a veteran of the television medium, takes the long view on the ongoing disruptions between TV and streaming. “OTT platforms like Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+ Hotstar and Voot are still largely metro-centric. They have a sizable subscription fee. But the rest of India still watches TV programming all day. So it’s two different audiences,” she says.

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