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5 Things Indian Saas-Bahu Shows Can Learn From Pakistan’s ‘Zindagi Gulzar Hai’

By Shraddha Chickerur:

Amongst a host of things that bind us in the sub-continent, one is definitely our love for drama. Like many fellow Indians, I’ve been obsessively watching ‘Zindagi Gulzar Hai’, a Pakistani television series. Here are a few pointers that the Indian television industry definitely needs to pick up from the roaring success of this drama.

1. It is possible to tell a story in 26 episodes.

The television drama, adapted from a novel, is directed by Sultana Siddiqui, who has the distinction of being the first, and probably the only Asian woman, who has started a television channel. ZGH has managed to raise issues of gender discrimination, class differences, ideas around independence, marital relationships and what not. Most importantly, it is an elegantly depicted hate to love story.

2. There can be more than five women in a show, where none of them actively plot or scheme against each other.

The cast is an ensemble of talented actors from the Pakistani television industry, who have etched some very believable characters. Sanam Saeed is perfect as Kashaf Murtaza, the self made eldest daughter of a school principal, who struggles to make ends meet, and a father who has remarried for the want of a son. Sidra (Mansha Pasha), as the practical optimistic sister does justice to her role. The second wife of Kashaf’s father is the only character that comes close to being stereotypical, and adds a vamp like element to the story. And the handsome Fawad Khan as Zaroon is more than pleasing to the eye.

3. A pessimistic lead actor, who is without make-up when at home, can actually work.

Sanam portrays the rather pessimistic but upright Kashaf beautifully. She is a struggler, always unhappy with life. She says a lot with her expressions. Hers as well as all other characters are very realistically portrayed, with perfect costumes.

4. A content-driven television show can have a fan following.

Fawad Khan, protagonist of “Zindagi Gulzar Hai”, giving his autograph to fans

The drama plays upon the contrasts between Kashaf and Zaroon’s life and relationships. ZGH is about a delicate balance. On one hand, it questions the value placed in having a son, which makes Kashaf’s father abandon his wife and three daughters. On the other, there are the independent women and clashes in what seems like a perfect world that Zaroon inhabits. While Kashaf has struggled with everything in her life, Zaroon seems to have it all.

5. Good camera work and dialogues need not be restricted to films alone.

zindagi gulzaar hai

Apart from the fact that Urdu is a pleasure to listen to, the dialogues are well written; the camera work adds to the quality of the show with no panning on each face in the room at every dramatic moment. The title track also sticks to your head.

One might not be satisfied with how the ends are tied as the drama concludes. That however, does not stop you from getting involved in the ruminations of Kashaf and Zaroon, as they routinely jot down their thoughts about life.

Which other shows do you think Indian TV soaps can learn from? Write about them on Youth Ki Awaaz! 

You must be to comment.
  1. isha

    This article does no justice to what amazing thing ZGH is.
    By far, the best series I have seen (including the popular emglish ones). But this article is crap. There are so many other things the writer completely missed. ZGH deserves a better review.

    1. gandharva

      This is what any industry going down on quality needs … a bit of competition to become better…. Good for Indian TV.

    2. Jamid

      Though criticism is welcome, but i wish you come up with a better review so as to justify this wonderful show, that according to you, Ms Shraddha has missed.

      Waiting for your updated review with a bated breath.

    3. isha

      If you go to a restaurant, order an expensive ingredient like lamb loin and while you wait for it to arrive in all its glory and here it is badly chopped up undercooked piece. So you will give your two cents there. And it would be stupid if somebody expects you to prove your point by cooking something better.
      If you go for a movie, you will pass your judgement whether its horrible or poor or good or excellent. Now you cant be expected to prove that by making a better film because you never claimed you were a filmmaker.
      So similarly, i found this article veryy incomplete. I have watched that series twice. You cant sum it up in meager 5 points. But i never promised anyone a better article. I am not a writer. So please, dont hold your breath over it.

  2. Devika

    Perfectly described. Not just ZGH, any Pakistani Drama for that matter is far rich in content than any successful Indian soap opera. These shows show us that excellent dramas can be made without, saas-bahu conflict, never ending bahu problems, cheap comedy or even dirty jokes for that matter. I really hope that our T.V. show producers and directors change the concept of daily 20 minute-poor quality-everlasting plots.

  3. sumati

    Liked your style of writing Shraddha. straight to the point. Enjoyed reading this.

  4. muskan

    completely true..!!

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