This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Butool Abbas. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Zindagi Channel Is Airing Pakistani TV Shows That Make Indian Shows Look Immature

By Butool Abbas:

What’s restricted has always been enticing. There is an innate urge to open closed doors and windows and peep inside. And, not so surprisingly, activities beyond the Indian border-i.e., in Pakistan, have always generated interest. But, there was also a copious amount of stereotyping that happened in the process. Our interactions were limited and whatever the popular media depicted was our window to understand this separated land. A series of cricket matches, a handful of singers traveling to and fro between borders, and a few actors later, all we knew till date is that Pakistanis had a great talent pool and were a good looking lot!

The politicians also fed on our lack of clarity. They fueled our imagination about who is an average Pakistani by creating perceptions through what their army does across the international borders. Narrow-focus of vision bordering on obsession for Kashmir and a total lack of respect for rules and system cut a very sorry figure for a youth living in Pakistan. We unknowingly came to believe that every guy across those lines lacked any other goal in life except vengeance. In retrospect, it couldn’t have been far from the truth. Just reverse the situation to understand how crazy it sounds.

The efforts for goodwill

There’s no doubt that the history between the two countries has been blotted with conspiracies, conflicts, and treachery. But efforts to restore goodwill between the nations have also been on priority list of diplomats. From the very first match in 1952 between the two countries till date, nothing can beat the adrenaline rush, and competitive spirit of an Indo-Pak match. However, the idea was set out with an objective of creating goodwill between the two countries. Through decades, music concerts and comedy shows etc. were conducted for this very hope of peace – or as appropriately named, ‘ Aman ki Asha’.

Cut to today. Circa: 2014

Zee TV launches a new Indian entertainment television channel airing syndicated shows from Pakistani top-rated serials. The channel is owned by the Zee Entertainment Enterprises; launched on 23 June 2014. It is said that later it would telecast shows from various others countries too, for instance countries like Turkey, Iran, Egypt, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

The Channel launches with the multi -faceted vision of bringing fresh content to Indian television from international markets, and for an alternative way of goodwill building between the two countries (the tag line reads “Jodey Dilon ko”) . The risk is well rewarded. In a television market reeking with the stench of serials focused on the superficial dynamics of saas and bahu, brothers, etc., the new channel seems like a breath of fresh, aroma-filled air.

6

The content starved Indian audience receives it with open arms. This phenomenon is not restrained to the ‘Aunties’ of India, but has spread across a section of youth, and is slowly trickling to the masculine population too. My interactions with a few people on social media networks, and offline too, revealed that people are literally glued to the shows on the channel. There are more positive reviews than negative. It is thus safe to say that the channel Zindagi has generated more goodwill and respect in its short stint, than a series of matches between the two countries could, in years.

Why is this so? 
Why are people even getting excited about serials, dramas, and all this supposedly run-of-the-mill Ekta Kapoor-ish stuff? Is it actually capable of breaking stereotypes?

Let’s take a quick look at the whys and whats, and uncover layers of this project.

What makes Zindagi so ‘cool‘ as being claimed here?

With only a couple of programs in its kitty, the channel still manages to walk the talk. The programs range from a story of a newly married couple – Aunn Zara, a series of short stories; Kitni Girhain Baaki hain; a mini tele-series, Kaash main teri Beti Na Hoti; and a complex plot of hate and love in Zindagi Gulzar Hai, the channel’s most popular serial.

4

Aunn Zara has the male protagonist in a house filled with elder single females who fuss over him. The fun begins when they actually trust the new daughter-in-law with the car-driving- more than their own son, due to his past track record! These females have been cut across generation and need no men to take care of them. The channel’s most popular serial, Zindagi Gulzar hai, is about the complex relationship between two headstrong, intelligent individuals and class rivals, Zaroon and Kashaf. The serial delves into the subject of marriages and human errors of judgments in the most mature manner I 
have seen till date. It’s not over dramatic- it’s far from sluggish, but in fact uses common everyday life incidents to make its point.

There are two phenomenal achievements of this channel. One is that while getting us into the houses of an average Pakistani, it broke the biggest mental block. It made Pakistanis to be a normal bunch of human beings in our mind. When they bore open their fears, attitudes, habits, and circumstances to us (Indians) through this medium, we immediately empathize and connect. The problems and situations seem to be quite common across borders.

The second achievement is the portrayal of females in the serial. The very fact that females are not questioned for every decision they take and some characters in the story are extremely headstrong about balancing career and work, should make us clap with respect. What is heartening to see, is the liberal thinking women with a strong rooted sense of culture. They do get their share of chauvinism, but that’s beside the point, as those are extrinsic factors. Even the director is a lady, Sultana Siddiqui, and that’s a first considering I am yet to know an Indian television lady director. When I delved into the subject more, I came to know she owns the broadcasting network, Hum TV, in Pakistan, from where Zindagi has bought most of its content.

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The channel also demystifies the need for baroque-looking sets, garish makeup, and blingy clothes with its no-nonsense approach. What makes Zindagi even cooler is its tight script, crisp screenplay, well delivered dialogues, subtle acting, and the rich language of delivery i.e., Urdu. Can you imagine that a marriage scene between the protagonists took less than 10 minutes to get over? And that, too, in a single episode itself? I was astounded for a while, with the lack of melodrama, and the non-repetitive script that the channel was offering. Its well-paced content makes it suitable for us, the attention-deficit youth population to watch.

The Future of Indian TV

Today, with the entry of Zindagi Channel, people are excited with the fact that after a long time, a drama is respecting their intelligence, and thinks of them worthy enough to appreciate complex plots.

On a very strong note, these Pakistani serials make a mockery of our long held rigid belief system about them. Its meaningful content is a slap on the face for every prejudiced person. Its far advanced portrayal of the complexity of human relationship makes us cringe when we change channels and see its Indian counterparts. Zindagi TV is a modern updated version of good old Doordarshan serials and surely must be sending shock waves in the Indian television industry these days.

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It’s about time our television serial industry also rose up to the standards and stopped over-simplifying plots, and serving half—baked personalities as characters. The very reason that dramas work is because there is an urge in us to understand human relationships. We relate to it, cry with it, and also try to evolve through it. Dimwitted scripts are the mother of all issues that the Indian television industry faces today, and the entry of Zindagi only made it more obvious.

For a change, it’s the turn of Indian production houses to worry and fret. And as for us, the audience, let’s sit back, relax, sip a cup of tea, and enjoy this wave of change because Zindagi aajkal really Gulzar hai!

You must be to comment.
  1. Misba

    Amazingly written…loved it!

    1. Nilanjana

      Amazing…very well written article….I completly agree with your views & am totally glued to this channel nowadays….its indeed soo refresing to see this kinda shows…

  2. Zaib

    Nice read and very well written. I am yet to watch one of these, have heard a lot about them. The problem is that I don’t receive Zee Zindagi on my cable network 🙁

  3. nidhi

    “Wow” …this is the first word which explodes in my mind the moment I read your article! I was already kicked the moment I read the heading and you’ve aptly(and condescendingly too!4 the Indian TV fraternity) put up the content 🙂 and the way you’ve expressed that these dramas(they aren’t serials;called Dramas in Pakistan) have grabbed the eyeballs of youth+ male populace is something I thought u would not have covered! Anyways keep wearing a writer’s(and a critic’s)thinking cap 🙂

    1. butool

      Thanks Nidhi for the kind words ! Iam flattered and definitely inspired to write more. Infact it was the very fact that these dramas(as you aptly put it ) have captured the imagination of the young, triggered me to write at the very first place.

  4. Bhavesh Kriplani

    Very true. Even our great old epic Mahabharat has become just another stupid indian tv serial now. Hope this fresh competition for them from across the border serves better. Then people will demand FDI even in tv industry to save what little is left of their sanity.

  5. Bilal

    We in Pakistan have a very rich tradition of producing high quality dramas which are closer to real life.We knew that Indians have a stereotypical image of Pakistanis in their minds and this is manifested in your movies as well where every Pakistani is shown wearing a white Kurta and a white cap and every second guy is named Abdul so ever since Zee disclosed its plans of launching ZeeZindagi,I was very much sure that those images are going to change.
    There are many other brilliant dramas over here which you people would want to watch.”Hamsafar” is one of those.
    I don’t know if Zindagi will take content from PTV because PTV has also a great library of dramas and I am not referring to the old dramas,beside those classical dramas like “Aandhera Ujala.Waris,Dhoop Kinaray and Tanhaian”,PTV has produced some gems in the recent years and they include dramas like “Bint-e-Aadam” and “Din Dhallay”.

    And Batool it goes without saying that your article was a treat to read.Loved every bit of it.

    1. Butool Abbas

      Thankyou Bilal ! iam glad the thoughts are resonating across the border

    2. Shilpa

      I have watched Dhoop Kinare. Thats just a wow piece of work. I just loved it so as the new era of pakistani tele serieses. 🙂

    3. Bilal

      That was indeed a magnum opus.Story was great and acting was sublime.An all time great drama.These dramas were literally the reason behind deserted roads in Pakistan at Prime time.

  6. Parul

    I want to congratulate the author of this article…it exactly speaks my mind!!! I remembr my mom used to watch serials like Shanti dat featured Mandira Bedi and Saans that had Nina Gupta long back…d essence of those serials had diminished now. Though, the serials also revolved around female protagonists but they had somekind of essence thatz completely lacking in todayz indian tv shows that are all about scheming vamps, detective bahus, unnecessary rona-dhona, rebirths etc. Everything has become so exaggerated that indian tv shows look so damn artificial.. that i’ve almost stopped watching tv except for news or discovery channel..!! For me channel ZINDAGI lives upto itz name .i.e it bring us closer to life and the characters in the shows look so real as they are among us or represent our inner enigma!! YOu feel so much rejuvenated watching the shows that are without any background DHAM DHAM sound/music and the shows end up in a month or less as soon as the story’s plot get over (in contrast to our saas bahu saga where the show’s trp decides itz fate)..itz all about whatz really happening! Its a clear mockery of the lack of creative storylines on indian tv and high time they should take a lesson from them.. In love with ZINDAGI 🙂

    1. Butool Abbas

      Thankyou so much Parul for liking it ! I love the way you have put down your thoughts too. Surely iam happy without the dham dham too !

  7. Diksha

    Wonderfully written article. Its so nice see that the efforts by Zee Zindagi are well appreciated. I hope they telecaste Humsafar as well. There is absolutely nothing intersting in Indian television which is why I started watching Korean and Pakistani dramas online. So ofcourse when I came to know that there is a new channel that will telecast shows from Pakistan I was very excited. And seeing that the first show to be aired will be Zindagi Gulzar Hai took my expection to a great height. This was the show that I had already seen and appriciated. The best part about these shows is ofcourse that I can know how the story ended. Expecting an end in an Indian tv serial is absolutly futile.
    The potrayl of women is fantastic as mentioned in the article. Loved Kashaf’s characted and could comprehend with her at every level.

    Another fascinating aspect for me is the languge particularly in Pakistanis dramas (ofcourse in korean dramas I take the help of eng subtitles). Usage of urdu takes the dialogs at another level. The simple confession of love becomes all the more romantic when conveyed in Urdu adab. Hope the yo yo Honey Singh effect on our tounges could be neutrized by these dramas.

    I wish they could have launched another channel to telecast South Koream dramas 😀
    Its a wonderful idea to introduce our audiences with shows accross the boundry. It would definetly broaden their horizons of how we look at the idiot box.

    1. Rajeev

      Well said. Really Indian serials have reached the bottom where nobody else can reach. Such foolish serials which my wife follows really puts me off like Sasural Simar Kaa and the like. All thanks to the dumb Ekta Kapoor. It seems the wicked plotting is what Indian serials are about and males are puppets

  8. Sarah

    Thanks a lot for this piece..The best part about the shows on Zee Zindagi is that they do not stretch for years taking leap after leap without any strong story premise in place. These shows from our neighbour remind me of the old Doordarshan days before the advent of cable television. We not only had good quality shows, but well-scripted ones too. As you pointed out, there are atleast 5-6 episodes in a soap-opera here purely devoted to a wedding, with 1-2 more for a consummation sequence which is unnecessary. The Pak shows are bringing in a new perspective and hope our writers also learn atleast some lessons from them.

  9. sonali

    I’m not much of a serial watcher for the same reasons you’ve mentioned above in your article..but one day while flicking channels I came across this channel Zindagi and I was impressed by seeing on eof the episodes of Zindagi Gulzaar hai..this channel is actually breaking social stereotypes mental barriers..One of the other serials which I appreciate on this channel is Kitni girhaein kholi hai..nice article..!!

  10. Shivani Makkar

    Great piece.. and right on the spot. The over-the-top Indian shows that dramatize the dramas too much, need to go for some introspection. Our viewers have shown great maturity by the eagerness with which they took to ‘zindagi’. Some of our own gems like ‘pal chhin’ and ‘saans’, lost out on their appeal when somewhere along the way we switched to overreacting, gasping, kohl-eyed creatures, decorated in bling, rather than sticking to sensible content. Who in India would have thought that the strongest defenders for women’s agency would come from Pakistan. Time to broaden our minds by narrowing down to meaningful cable.

  11. Megha

    I hv stopped watching Indian TV serials long time back but this definetly caught my interest..nicely written article.

    1. butool

      thanks Megha !

  12. Anu S

    Exactly my thoughts watching the serials in Zindagi. Absolutely refreshing after the trash Indian Tv serials dish out in the name of entertainment. Our shows look garish and loud with the extravagant sets and unnecessary melodrama in comparison. The beauty is that the shows on Zindagi are short and sweet without dragging for years on end. Zindagi Gulzar Hai was done in 26 episodes! None of our PH’s will ever have the guts to emulate our neighbors in terms of narration and production values.

  13. Kunal

    Well written piece. But my appeal is to all sponsors of these crap serials doled out on Indian TV. Stop wasting your money. Stop sponsoring these serials. Reject all bogus, cooked-up TRP Ratings. Don’t send confused signals about your brand to your target audience, which I’m sure is not always above 50 women. And for once, tell Ekta Kapoor to take a walk.

  14. Ayaz

    A good read, well written Butool. Being a Pakistani I appreciate Indian fans enthusiastic response. Thank you all.

  15. Sangeetha

    I too am not an avid Hindi serial watcher. I watch Tamil serials though. Zindagi is very different from ordinary and it offers variety, Waht i like about Zinfagi is its simplicity and its sweet Urdu that i love to hear. It is more closer to reality

  16. Prashant

    I am glad you wrote this very analytically thought-through piece. It sends out the right point, as is evident from the comments above. But there are just a couple of things I wish to point out:
    1) If somebody is ‘literally glued to a television’, it will make neither for a pretty sight nor a good news.
    2) There have been plenty of women directors in the Indian television industry like Asha Parekh (Kora Kagaz), Kavita Chaudhary (Udaan) and Neena Gupta (Saans, Pal Chhin etc) to name a few.

    1. butool

      Thanks Prashant for the compliment and pointing out the women directors name. I had completely forgotten about Neena Gupta and as you can yourself see, it seems in the past that these directors were there.Do you have any present day names ? I looked up ,cudnt find any.

  17. sajjad shah

    well done batool for writing a beautiful article..i am from pakistan and we were excited to know that indian’s will see our shows.. in pakistan people watches bollywood movies too and they have a great fan following. ther are many more top class dramas now a days in pakistan . i hope you all watch these too…

  18. Rajeev

    As said in the comments above very well written article and captures my thoughts about the Indian Channels. Time for all Indian serial producers to pull up their socks and make something meaningful.

  19. Vinayak

    After reading this article, i couldn’t help googling Zindagi Gulzar Hai and watched the first episode of this drama… and to say the least, i was floored… this was day before yesterday and today i finished watching the entire 26 episode drama. I was wondering if such a brilliant teleserial could really be made, after having to watch the trash the indian tv has to currently offer. I had always heard my elder cousins talk to my mother about the richness of pakistani serials many years before, but till date I had never experienced it, and it was a treat to see this drama. I loved the role of Kashaf’s mother, who was the best amongst all the actors, and who in her role as the distraught yet resolute mother, fought against all odds to bring out the best in her daughters…!!! The wisdome metted out throughout by this lady is so encouraging and uplifting and so full of hope against dispair…!! Thanks for having written this article !!

  20. Anchita

    Well written article and this is exactly on everyone’s mind. Zee zindagi is have repalced all melodramatic channels. Great work of pakistani actors.i personally love the way they speak,their sweet language URDU..love it ..

  21. Ahmad Faraz

    well in Pakistan we are broadcasting Indian channels since decade.But i had ever wish for Indian people to watch Pakistani dramas.Well response from India on Pakistani dramas make me feel our heads more close on a page.And i appropriate and thankful to zindgi channel to bring indo-pak people more closer and get know our common society problems.No more words …very nicely written article ….love you Indian friends <3

  22. baligh

    nice shows

  23. safyan

    well its gr8 to see the response.we like indian movies,n they were shown on our cables and in cinema even on same date of release in india,,bt indians were not allowed to see our tv dramas there..zee zindagi has done amazing job..
    even as a pakistani man i have hardly seen few pakistani dramas, bt now when they got hit in india,i have also developed interest in watching my own dramas on youtube due to indians,watched zindagi gulzar hay last week.didnt watch it when it was first aired in pakistan 🙂 ..ppl in pakistan r even fed up of these paistani dramas,turkey dramas are more popular now,shown on every channel.

  24. simran

    Please dont close aunn zara its an interesting show.

  25. other

    ye Kya kar rahe ho
    India me Pakistan k serial Chal rahe h
    Aur Pakistan ko commercial majboot kar rahe ho
    Aaj k find Jb Pakistan Ki taraf se Itne natak ho rahe h
    kavi hamare soldier ko mara ja Raha h
    begunah logo k Uper bomb blast ho rahe h
    Wahi Pakistan k serial Khareed k use commercial majboot kia ja Raha h
    please stop this
    don’t use any products

  26. zoya

    pakistani serial awesome hai.hume zindagi gulzaar aur humsafar bahot pasand aya.aur aina dulhan ka bhi serial pasand hai.mai ek indian hu magar mujhe india k serial achha lagta hai pakistani serial.thank u so much.fawad khan mujhe bahot pasand hai aur un ki acting to awesome. I love him.mai chahti hu fawad khan aur serial banaye.

  27. nargis shaikh

    zindagi channel is brilliant & very interesting.mai pakistani ko promote karti hu.kyu ki pakistani serial india k serial se bahot bahter hai.mai india me zarur rahti hu magar pasand mujhe pakistani serial aata hai becouse pakistani serial ek sabak sikhata hai.is ser
    ial k talaffuz bahot achhe hai.koi bhi chiz open nahi dikhata hai.pakistani serial me kuchh bhi fake nahi dikhata hai.jo real hai wo hi dikhta hai.mera manna hai india k serial se best pakistani serial hai.plz is channel ko kabhi bhi band naa kare.zindagi gulzaar aur humsafar bahot achha serial tha.

  28. nargis shaikh

    l love fawad khan.humsafar serial is too good awesome. plz restarted humsafar and zindagi gulaz serial.

  29. zoya

    plz dont close zindagi channel.fawad khan bahot smart hai

  30. neeraj

    Fabulous channel , which talks about every aspects of life in such a decent manner. Urdu aur tehjeeb ko bahot sundar tarah se darshaya gaya hai. Its awesome I have started watching this channel accidentally and now I like to watch only this instead of other channels where daily soaps are just crap.

  31. neeraj

    I was so Impressed that I could not stop my self writing this feeback and Thank this channel… This channel reminds me of 80’s Indian Door Darshan Serials. Don’t know where Indian TV channels have lost all those writers and decency. All serials are full of bahu saas drama. No culture depiction , bahu saazis or detective serials , reality shows.. I hardly watch Indian TV serials. this is the case of all young generations no one watches these serials anymore apart from house wife’s. I cherish watching Zindagi Channel.. every serial is so nice and stories are not dragged for years. Thanks Zindagi channel bringing such a decent innovative serials. After busy schedule when I return back from office i like to watch serials which connects and teaches you something. Its talks about tameez and Tehjeeb. Kahin bhi Urdu ke siva english or mixture of language nahi dikhta.. Its simply Awesome… Keep the good work. 🙂

  32. Javeria

    Zindagi channel has given us dramas on different topics and what’s more admiring is that they showcase bold topics in a very beautiful manner without crossing the line of vulgarity… And why we connect to Pakistani dramas more because they are very close to reality unlike our endless Indian dramas that are far behind from reality!!!! TRps are don’t think matter anymore but viewer ship’s matters..diya aur baati are high rated show nowadays but I don’t think it is worth watch and trps can also gain by creating any cheap publicity stunt or item song or even arrival of a big star in a soap for promoting their movies but real life is very different and we actually wanted 2see realism and good content that ‘zindagi’ is providing us…. And i wonder why can’t we make such shows

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A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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