Shattering misconceptions and stereotypes

Published: July 8, 2014
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Local dramas are a revelation for audiences in India, especially because the media mostly highlights disturbing news on terrorism. PHOTO: FILE

Local dramas are a revelation for audiences in India, especially because the media mostly highlights disturbing news on terrorism. PHOTO: FILE

NEW DELHI: 

From women’s empowerment to gender ties to social trends, a bouquet of Pakistani TV shows have hit the Indian small screen and are being appreciated by discerning Indian audiences. The progressive plots are not only creative and entertaining but are also successfully shattering many myths and misconceptions.

Beamed on Entertainment channel Zindagi-Jodey Dilon Ko, a new offering from Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited (ZEEL), is an eye-opener.

“Unfortunately, the international media showcases a very tiny fraction of our society. But it is our shows and films that show what the majority of our society is like,” said actor-filmmaker Samina Peerzada.

The channel went live June 23 with four shows, including Zindagi Gulzar Hai — a romantic drama that focuses on women and shows how equality of girls and the need for women to have a career are important in Pakistani society as well. The show highlights that if women from well-off families have freedom to make choices, the middle-class is not being shackled by conservatism either.

Such shows are proof of womens empowerment in Pakistan. A report by the British Council revealed that in 2011, more than 42 per cent of Pakistan’s 2.6 million high school students were girls.

Data on employment rates also reflect this improvement. For instance, Habib Bank hires 50 per cent female MBA graduates, while Engro Chemicals has 100 women in management positions.

Another well-known director Haissam Hussain’s Aunn-Zara revolves around a couple — pampered Aunn and headstrong Zara. The writer has woven cultural roots of rituals and family ties in the narrative, which has several strong female characters, without being regressive.

All this is a revelation for the audience in India, especially because media mostly highlights disturbing news on terrorism.

“We have the same reservations as people anywhere in the world, we’re as positive, the mothers here are as caring and loving as anywhere else and we live a normal life,” said Samina.

“We have normal human beings here just like any other part of the world…we have all kinds of people. I am very proud and humbled that people are getting to see a side of Pakistan that has not been seen so far,” she added.

If the above two shows are urbane and elite, Kaash Main Teri Beti Na Hoti touches upon trials and tribulations of underprivileged class and their struggle for survival.

Kitni Girahein Baki Hain is a fascinating and captivating line-up of telefilms focusing on women from various walks of life.

“Pakistani dramas are a reflection of our society and issues that we face in our day-to-day life. There is no over-the-top dramatisation of characters and situations unlike Indian dramas where they exaggerate,” said an official from a Pakistani television channel.

Interestingly, the shows are garnering positive response in India. National Award winning Bollywood actor Divya Dutta tweeted: “Loving the serials on Zindagi. Refreshing, crisp and beautiful Urdu… nice!”

Another actor Kamya Punjabi tweeted, “I so want to go to Pak and be a part of their shows! I hope and wish Zee Zindagi changes the vision of the makers in television here.”

As a filmmaker, Kunal Kohli appreciated the technical side of the shows. “Must say the quality of shooting & writing of the shows on #Zindagi is very refreshing,” he tweeted.

Shailja Kejriwal, creative head of ZEEL, said that the idea was to use a mass media platform for entertainment with a purpose.

“I’m hoping that it will grow into creative collaborations between the two nations. Not only have these shows shattered a lot of myths about our neighbouring nation, but also generated some kind of a bond that I see growing rapidly. If that happens, it would be the real achievement and something we would all be really proud of,” said Shailja.

The channel started with four shows, but the numbers will go up this week. 

Published in The Express Tribune, July 9th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (11)

  • Khurram
    Jul 8, 2014 - 9:19PM

    not only in india…but paki dramas are on high demand here in middle east also…Our powerful drama industry has been proved to be a much mature and elegant industry from last three decades….there are countless mega hit dramas and telefimls on the credit of PTV and several private TV channels…we had a decent film industry too but not sure where it went although it is also regaining its ground now from last couple of years…but for drama and music industry of Pak…i would always feel proud and cheerish..its time to expand our dramas, music and films to much larger part of the world other than just india and middle east to showcase the soft image of Pakistan.

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  • RM
    Jul 9, 2014 - 12:44AM

    The grass is always greener on the other side. But our side is wiser and more experienced.

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  • USA wants ZEE NOW
    Jul 9, 2014 - 3:21AM

    It is great that an Indian company has started a solely ZEE channel for Pakistani shows and television series. Since the Govterment of Pakistan does nothing to highlight the image of Pakistan and all the Pakistani embassies abroad are loaded with friends & family of our dear politicians who use the Pakistani embassy base for their personal use people in India can learn more about the culture of Pakistan other than the daily slaughter of its people.
    Was wondering if anyone knows if this ZEE channel will be available in the UK & USA if so what cable provider?

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  • doesnt matter
    Jul 9, 2014 - 10:17AM

    the biggest excitement of pak serials airing in India is among Pakistanis rather than Indians. :) i have read about Zindagi channel only here…maybe with time the channel might gain popularity. they should do more publicity as indians are largely unaware.

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  • goldconsumer
    Jul 9, 2014 - 1:43PM

    @doesnt matter:
    Typical “may na manu” Indian approach! :)

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  • salman
    Jul 9, 2014 - 2:17PM

    Who cares what India thinks about it. Important is that our Pakistani dramas keep up their own essence intact unlike copying other’s style for e.g Indian. So far most of our private channels, especially HUM TV is up to the task.

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  • Bharat
    Jul 9, 2014 - 3:24PM

    Sounds interesting but never read any article about it on Indian press. I hope they have decent production values and a decent budget

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  • Fahad
    Jul 10, 2014 - 2:32PM

    Its good to see that they have reached India and are being appreciated.

    What is required is such Dramas to be dubbed into english and with sub-titles for our English audience too who have a very old image of Pakistan still in their mind !

    media is a very powerful tool use it wisely !

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  • Jul 10, 2014 - 4:34PM

    Besides slick technique,strong script and attractive production values,one of the factors in our new TV drama now being shown on ZEE TV Zindagi is the accent and pronunciation of Urdu by the actors , dialogue and its delivery . That would not be there with dubbing. Lost in translation !.

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  • ritika singh
    Jul 11, 2014 - 6:21PM

    The shows are rather interesting and are being loved here in India. They are a refreshing change, no doubt, from what other Indian channels showcase. What is especially appreciated, in the northern part of the country, is the use of Urdu, which is cherished in Uttar Pradesh and Delhi. It’s quite obvious why these shows are popular. They are selected shows, which cater to the upcoming and conscientious youth, which other indian channels were losing out on because of their shoddy programming.

    I would agree that keeping the current trend of Indian shows, in mind, the pakistani shows are certainly winners… at least they are meaningful. But it’s not that India never had well made tv soaps: we have had great shows like Dekh Bhai Dekh, Malgudi Days, Thoda Hai Thode Ki Zaroorat Hai, Buniyaad, Hum Log, Choti Si Asha… but we just lost them since Kyunki Saas bhi… and other K-Serials took over.

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  • Cricket Lover
    Jul 13, 2014 - 12:51AM

    @goldconsumer

    “Ap bhi maan jao”—Bollywood& saas bahu serial obsessed Pakistan

    Yours Truly
    Since 1947

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