A new dawn for dramas

Published: July 13, 2014
The success of Pakistani dramas in India could be a major game changer for the local industry.

The success of Pakistani dramas in India could be a major game changer for the local industry.


Behlul and Bihter took everyone by a surprise when Turkish soaps graced the Pakistani screens, with gorgeous faces and unconventional storylines getting an even better response than expected.

Two years later, the situation has changed. Zindagi, a channel owned by Zee TV network in India, has started airing Pakistani dramas  — an exchange that Pakistani artistes and the UPA (United Producers Association) had been asking for, for quite some time. The Indian media and viewers have greatly appreciated the content, however, the question remains, what does this success mean to our local artistes?

“It can have the same impact as the Turkish plays had on us. Only this time, it would be bigger and long-lasting. Given that we share the same language and don’t have the dubbing handicap,” says script writer, Vasay Chaudhry.

Chaudhry is more interested in how this exchange will benefit the local production houses because that is essentially where the real creative force is and not the TV channels. “This will lead the production houses to stop giving world rights to Pakistani channels. If a producer knows that his play can resell and run in India as well, he will produce one quality play rather than four half-hearted products,” he adds.

Faysal Qureshi, on the other hand, was optimistic about the response but had not imagined it to be as overwhelming as it is. “I was confident that our dramas will be recognised worldwide. Our audience still doesn’t believe that but that’s another thing altogether,” says Qureshi.

“The best thing is that now Indian channels are asking our producers to produce content for them and are not just interested in buying content that has already been aired,” he adds.

This moment reminiscent of how Bollywood opened its windows for Pakistani singers in the mid 2000’s. Since then, every newcomer started making the kind of music that sells in Bollywood and consequently, we didn’t see any big singer emerge after Ali Zafar and Atif Aslam.

“That would be equivalent to finishing your own career before it has started,” asserts Qureshi. He says that every newcomer has to start from his home ground  — just like a cricketer, who starts at college level, goes on to play for the national team and eventually for the counties. “The reason why Fawad Khan is now working in India is because he was recognised in Pakistan. There are no two ways about it,” says Qureshi.

Veteran actor Samina Ahmed says that the local drama industry tried its best to imitate the Indian ‘formula’ to cater to a wider audience and that failed terribly. She gives the example of how the Indian drama Uttran was aired with local dramas in Pakistan and didn’t do as well

“The 50-minute serial structure is our forte and that is what the audience has gotten used to over a span of fifty years. In the long run, we only need to improve on that and not undermine it by switching to some other format to suit a bigger audience,” says Ahmed

For Samina, the response for local dramas across the border is a positive sign as it may eventually lead to a wider audience for Pakistani dramas; however, it is still too early to say anything for sure.

“For now, the response is due to the novelty of discovering something new, as both, Indians and Pakistanis are very curious to know about each other. We get to know about them through their films and these dramas are the first formal inlet in Pakistan for them,” she adds.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 14th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (40)

  • junaid
    Jul 13, 2014 - 9:06PM

    We must market our films and dramas in the USA and get more revenue so that we can become a bigger market than bollywood. After all money still matters hence we need crores in films and dramas to be invested from gourment and private firms. We can beat bollywood and holllywod anyday with our actors content, we just need money and we will be top


  • salman
    Jul 13, 2014 - 11:37PM

    Apart from all this, Why Fawad Khan has lost so much weight ?


  • baby doll main sone di
    Jul 14, 2014 - 12:57AM



  • Shahid Kinnare
    Jul 14, 2014 - 1:06AM

    I am in USA. And try to watch Waar acclaimed Pakistan movie. But it just not available. Bad marketing.


  • rahul
    Jul 14, 2014 - 3:15AM

    @junaid..This re affirmation that Pakistan is nothing without India. If India promotes you ,you become big ,else no one cares abt Pakistan.


  • Ali S
    Jul 14, 2014 - 3:27AM


    So he can still hold on to his modeling ‘career’


  • Wajahat Afaq
    Jul 14, 2014 - 4:35AM

    He has lost his weight due to the demand of modern showbiz industry, he is not one you can thoroughly observe that , Sahir Lodhi, Faisal Qureshi and many other stars in Pakistan and Bollywood industry who gradually lost their weight, size Zero and prominent face bones with fake expressions and smiles, sometimes they feel like a animated characters


  • Indian
    Jul 14, 2014 - 4:51AM

    I am glad that Pakistani artists are entering Bollywood…but why are there no good looking actors like Sidharth Malhotra, Aditya Roy Kapoor, Arjun, John etc in Lwood? It would be better if we do not talk about heroines :-). Come on guys export quality products…no Veena Malik, Meera etc. Send some ‘girl next door’ type of cute girls


  • Raferty
    Jul 14, 2014 - 10:13AM

    I don’t think there is anyone on the Bollywood scene that can compare to Fawad Khan….can’t touch this! Besides him, there’s Imran Abbasi, Emmad Irfani, Noor Hassan……look em up :)


  • OMG!
    Jul 14, 2014 - 11:14AM

    @rahul: Dream on bro!
    No wonder you guys break the leg of your neighbors if they are found “Succeding on the own”.
    And you got a whole army of troll drones to “Yes” that? Unbelievably Enormous Ego!

    Thanks ET… in helping to get a glimpse of neighbors’ mindset!


  • OMG!
    Jul 14, 2014 - 11:15AM

    @Indian: I smell…. jealousy!


  • Timorlane
    Jul 14, 2014 - 11:39AM

    I’m aghast by pseudo media intellectuals’ apathy towards comedy dramas which are better entertainer than the tearful boring usual dramas overflowing with head wrenching problems for audience already mired in such problems and more


  • Moiz Omar
    Jul 14, 2014 - 11:40AM

    I always thought our local Pakistani dramas were better than the Turkish dramas.


  • doesnt matter
    Jul 14, 2014 - 11:44AM

    pakistani media is gloating at the so called succes of pak serials in India same as Indians do when something itsy bitsy thing makes it to th e west. India has over 600 channels, Zindagi has hardly made an impact…but why should we spoil the party with some hard facts :)


  • jay1980
    Jul 14, 2014 - 11:48AM

    @junaid: You are funny man . Keep living in your dreamland ! Some how Pakistani have this false notion that they are the greatest living people on this Planet.

    Moderator PLz B fair !


  • dip
    Jul 14, 2014 - 11:49AM

    @ OMG jealousy of what? can u pls explain me wat hav u achieved tat we will be jealous of ur kntry nd its tiny drama nd film industry?

    U guys r crazy about our actors nd films, we dont even know about any of ur actors nd films. India is known all over the world by its film industry and culture which u Pakistanis can never ever match, tats the fact, accept it dear, instead if talking like a stupid & failed person.


  • Sane Voice
    Jul 14, 2014 - 12:40PM

    @dip, jay1980 and other indian trolls

    I dont know why you people are so boastful of ur false sucess….ur evey other movie and even dance steps and music…………are just a copy of hollywood or other entertaimnet around the world, and u people still have guts to jump over it. Go and learn to create something genuine of your own……….


  • Raferty
    Jul 14, 2014 - 12:44PM

    Nothing wrong with being proud of ones accomplishments. Indians are among THE most nationalistic people I’ve met in my life–why does it bother you when others feel the same of their own land & identity?


  • Raferty
    Jul 14, 2014 - 12:45PM

    @Timorlane: Translation please!


  • Raferty
    Jul 14, 2014 - 12:48PM

    @doesnt matter:
    I don’t see any “gloating” in the article. Instead it’s a level headed piece about how this may open up the doors for Pakistani dramas/films–the arts. Hurts when others (people across the border, eh-hem) feel success. Your name says it all–“doesn’t matter”, and neither do you. :)


  • Raferty
    Jul 14, 2014 - 12:50PM


    Living in the states & I can’t name a single Indian actor/actress of this time. Ask me about Pakistani actors & I can list them all! So no—not all of “us guys” are crazy about your actors. Jump off the pedestal & hurt yourself in the process please.


  • ritika singh
    Jul 14, 2014 - 12:59PM

    I don’t believe what our friend Rahul just said. I am Indian too, and I believe that Pakistan and India are two countries with a common history, that’s just about it. We need to respect each other and appreciate what each is good at. I feel the serials that have been aired on Zindagi till now are pretty neat. Love the content, and the fact that they are short. Let’s hope the serials continue to be this way.Recommend

  • Nasreen
    Jul 14, 2014 - 1:33PM

    I guess when our actresses start pulling off their clothes, run around half naked, and perform half rated sex scenes then Lollywood may be as big as bollywood? Hmmmm, but we’d never do that because we have class.
    On another point–the bulk of this article deals with how this may open up opportunities for Pakistani production companies; leading to more funding & resources. I find it amazingly pathetic that the few Indians who posted here are full of such anger & negatvity. You people prop yourselves up every opportunity you get, but can’t stand a short article stating our dramas are airing in your country. Perhaps it’s time for some self reflection……


  • Nasreen
    Jul 14, 2014 - 1:36PM

    @ritika singh:
    You’re a great soul Ritika. Thank you for your comment. The arts have always been a great way to build bridges amongst people and nations–which is why some of the comments disturbed me. Mutual respect and understanding is so important in any relationship….so thank you.


  • Haroon
    Jul 14, 2014 - 1:50PM

    @Indian: The major difference between Indian and Pakistan culture is that , that what you are good at is not even liked in our culture, the families dont allow their kids to even think about working in Drama and Film but exception are there though rare


  • Anon
    Jul 14, 2014 - 2:09PM

    Haven’t seen lately anybody from Indian sides discussing on news channels about Pakistani dramas spreading its tentacles and destroying the Indian cultures like the one which we used to see usually on Pakistani news channels about Indian dramas by Ansar Abbasi, Orya Maqbool, Mr. Lucman, and some of the Pakistani drama artistes………May be it happens only in Pakistan where one culture invades other……especially the Hindu ones.


  • Sane Voice
    Jul 14, 2014 - 2:52PM


    Oh realy what indian culture are u really talking about……………after becoming the rape capital of the world…………..

    You should be thankful that such decent entertainment is now being provided to you…..compared to the unending crap produced by ur entertainment media in the name of soaps.


  • Rudra
    Jul 14, 2014 - 3:24PM

    @sane voice. America and Sweden are top two rape cases countries in world. So temme why except bigotry and hatred one would make such ridiculous statement ? Atleast we have rights and laws and woman speak up in our society can we say the same about yours? Don’t forget your own country rape cases dude.


  • kami
    Jul 14, 2014 - 4:02PM

    Pakistani serials are better and it is obvious. Indian films are better than Pakistani films.
    Doesn’t matter whatever haters are trying to prove!


  • Nadia Khan
    Jul 14, 2014 - 4:27PM

    Pak dramas are best,these are based on reality. we have lots of talents and living legends like Faysal Quraishi :)


  • ali
    Jul 14, 2014 - 4:28PM


    YES! YES! YES! india is big. india is crowded. india has a huge market. thats y we want our dramas, music, movies and everything possible to be sold in india. that is why we like india, for business and nothing personal.

    But rememeber, not only us, but everyone. British came in india? Why? to business, Portuguese invaded. Why? Because India is big. So if you are proud that only YOU ARE BIG, thats the only thing you have. Otherwise you are nothing but dusty uncultured.


  • Sane Voice
    Jul 14, 2014 - 4:40PM

    Now Now, c’mon. All u indian trolls were bragging and boasting just a couple of hours ago and now u r hiding behind the rapes in America and Sweden. Talk about yourself dude and the cases in your country, it seems to be your forte, and we definitely do not want to compete with you in this field.Recommend

  • archipelago
    Jul 14, 2014 - 5:23PM

    This is a welcome development, and I think India is a very large and lucrative market for Pakistani entertainment, but I also feel India shouldn’t be the sole focus of Pakistani producers and media houses. Right alongside India, other countries should be our calling too even if their markets may not be statistically as large. Pakistani producers and media houses should learn from the experience of the Turks and South Koreans (or even the Americans) and spread Pakistani content into Pakistan’s other neighbors as well. The Middle East is a huge market for a start. And as the examples of the 3 countries I named show, the language barrier is no issue at all so that cannot be the excuse for ignoring those markets! Also I feel Pakistani actors and singers should learn the languages of our other neighbor countries and release native-language content in those countries, either by starring in their productions or introducing Pakistani ones produced for those markets, just like the South Koreans keep doing.


  • truthplease
    Jul 14, 2014 - 7:37PM

    @everylollywooders and @pakculturalists commenting

    How many Indian movies have you all seen for these judging comments? On a side note Indian movies are not just Bollywood representing hindi movies. There are hundreds of others in tamil, telugu, kannada, malayalam, bengali, bojpuri etc


  • doesnt matter
    Jul 15, 2014 - 11:46AM

    I never said gloating in this article. I have read over 10 articles on Zindagi, the actors of their serials, etc in past one week on Tribune and Dawn. it’s being made into such a big deal when it clearly isnt


  • AVM Polpot
    Jul 15, 2014 - 3:20PM

    “A new dawn for dramas”
    And I thought this was about the real drama with PTI and Qadri as the villains….


  • AVM Polpot
    Jul 15, 2014 - 3:21PM

    “A new dawn for dramas”
    corrected headlines: A new yawn for dramas


  • Priya
    Jul 15, 2014 - 6:02PM

    I for one am thoroughly enjoying the Pakistani dramas.. have always been a fan of good plots and stories. There is hardly anything good to watch on Indian Channels (I am an Indian) these days. Hopefully this will encourage our content writers also to come up with some good meaningful stuff. Why do we (fellow Indians and some Pakistanis as well) make everything an Indo-Pak issue? If something is good, lets just appreciate the same. Keep the good stuff coming :)


  • N.Sid
    Jul 15, 2014 - 9:05PM

    @Nadia Khan:
    Not only Pakistani TV serials, talk shows, comedy shows are appreciated in India but our music industry, with its fresh and different perspective and non filmi content is also liked in India. No wonder there are dozens of pop groups who have performed in the Indian film industry.
    Similarly Indian films are appreciated here in Pakistan as the films have not kept pace with the changing times. Now thee is a resurgence of reinventing of film industry here, with new content and new subjects.


  • Avishek
    Jul 22, 2014 - 11:32PM

    That’s true.. :-)


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