Hearing the word “Pakistan” in a conversation, you assume it to be about the political tension, the latest absurd announcement rolled out by Taliban or the upcoming Indo-Pak match(Cricket, duh, who watches any other sport in our country ?). But all of this took a paradigm shift when Zee’s Zindagi tv channel went live on June 23, 2014.
Right through its conception, it has cut across class and gender to garner the adulation and popularity previously enjoyed by the DD tele-sagas of the ‘80s, namely Malgudi Days, Waagle ki Duniya, Hum Log, Dekh Bhai Dekh.(Yes, DD wasn’t the view-only-on-Republic-Day channel that it is now.)
All the shows, usually adaptations of popular novels, are kept short and crisp, with definite ends and not stretched on indefinitely. Hence they’re ideal for us season following folks who don’t have enough time or patience to track every character’s trajectory. Don’t feel ashamed to watch these shows. They will shatter every dubious conception you relate with tele-shows. The cultural connect has helped overcome misconceptions and stereotypes about Pakistan and Pakistani society.
The language, an eclectic mix of the graceful Urdu and the warm household Punjabi are completely relatable dialects that our grandparents have fond memories of and would love for us to get a taste of it. How cool does saying ‘lafz, jhashna, shagaafat’ sound ? I learned some badass insult-phrases from the tele-grannies.
The characters are full of depth, in sync with the changing times. They look, act and talk like us and face the same parental drama as us. (Psst, did you know that Islam allows first cousins could get married ? No, really, Google it) They go to the University and seek jobs, unlike our desi serials where it’s all about the shaadi. They’re not hidden under a mountain of make-up and don’t go ‘kya?!kya?!kya?!’ at every plot twist. No one wakes up wearing silk sarees, neither do the male characters have a permanently seething expression. No one acts plastic. Not only are these Pakistani actors good looking, they act brilliantly well too. Think Fawad Khan (Don’t swoon !) and Mahira Khan (she’s bagged a film opposite SRK !)
They are a class apart, as far as story telling goes. You find yourself rooting for the characters you like. The narrative is grasping and believable, no two storylines are similar. There’s no re-incarnation, generation gaps or any such weak excuses of concepts involved. The audience isn’t treated as a fool.
It’s all very refreshing for the Indian audience that has grown up on Ekta Kapoor’s K-serials. A character’s return from the deathbed doesn’t depend on whether he prays or not. In fact, religion isn’t even a part of most of these serials. It is a clear indication of how inferior, stagnant and not to forget, regressive the Indian television industry is becoming.
Have a look at the appreciation bestowed upon these serials by the desi TV fraternity on Twitter :
It’s such a pleasant change. Short stories which feel closer to life….bye bye unending dramas. All the best!
Man, got hooked and watched 3 serials in a row… I think this channel with its content will be serious threat to all soapers.
Loving the serials! Refreshing, crisp n tat beautiful Urdu…Nice!
This new channel is so refreshing. Better aesthetic, dialogue, performances…
Kudos…. What amazing shows, fabulous content really brings back old days the very essence of television.
The Pakistani shows deal with corporate issues, problems of daily life, women liberation in the truest sense of the term and have well etched, strong, independent female characters, which evolve as the story progresses. They are not shown in extreme black or white.
According to an article in Caravan, “Zindagi’s core target audience is English-speaking, smartphone-owning women between the ages of 15 and 44, who live in big metros, and cities like Bangalore, Pune and Indore. The channel’s profile pins her down as a ‘quietly humble, progressive yet rooted person with a millennial or forward-looking mindset.'” From the next door loud aunty to the entire chains of popular electronic stores running the channel through the day, the audience is varied, wide and hooked.
Apart from the cultural sensitization and the old world charm, they’ve also brought back the fashion of long Pakistani kurtis, the delicate chikankari work, straight cut pants and printed wide dupattas. Rejoice, ladies.
Everything about these stories is mesmerizing and they’re easily the best import from Pakistan since the heart melting, crooning wonder Atif Aslam. Here’s hoping that we get to see more such intelligent art from across the border and that their Indian counterparts can take a clue to finally move beyond the tried, tested, done to death saas-bahu dramas to create serials that will leave an indelible imprint with the viewers. Keep churning out such thought provoking, high intensity dramas Pak ! Love thy neighbor, no ?
By- Navni Bhatia
Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.