“Had the show started today, I am sure it would have enjoyed a different outcome.”
Jha hopes so and told AFP he did not want to encourage dating, focusing instead on the channel’s appeal to a conservative demographic.
“We will not arrange any meetings between a boy and a girl without their families present. We want people to know each other’s families before going ahead with anything,” he said.
Commentator De said the channel’s conservative leanings reflect widespread Indian thinking.
“Middle India has not changed that much as far as this sort of thing is concerned. Families are still very involved in the decision-making around marriages,” she said.
“Plenty of young people are happy asking their families for help in finding brides or grooms. They tend not to have such high romantic expectations, they enter it with their eyes open, with a willingness to compromise.”
Optician Namrata Maheshwari, a 25-year-old participant on a Shagun TV show about in-laws, agreed, citing her own successful arranged marriage to 29-year-old Mukul.
Arranged marriage “connects two families, not just two people,” she said, describing it as “a very important tradition.”
“It should stay as it is. However modern we become, however much our lifestyle changes, some of our old traditions should continue to prevail,” she told AFP.
So far Jha has spent at least 600 million rupees (US$10 million) setting up the channel, he estimates. He expects to turn a profit soon.
“In India, marriage is tradition, it is culture, it is ritual and it is a market worth 1,250 billion rupees annually,” he said.
“Under such conditions, it won’t be difficult for this channel to do well.”