Pakistani women love India's 'saas-bahu' sagas

Published: November 11, 2010
While most serials are full of kitchen politics, the grandeur, costumes and larger-than-life projection is popular.

While most serials are full of kitchen politics, the grandeur, costumes and larger-than-life projection is popular.

KARACHI: Indian soaps are a rage among Pakistani women who love ‘saas-bahu’ sagas like “Pratigya” and “Uttaran” and the reality show “Bigg Boss” for their grandeur, costumes and larger-than-life projection.

“As they say, you always love to have what you don’t have; the same is the case with us. We are way too addicted to Indian soaps,” Zahida Zaidi, 52, a former politician based in this port city, told this visiting IANS correspondent.

“Our soaps have low budgets and hence they are simple and close to reality, but Indian soaps are just the opposite,” she pointed out.

Indian channels like Sony, STAR Plus and Colors are quite popular despite being banned in Pakistan, which means the local cable guy doesn’t have permission to telecast them. The public has access to them only through Direct-To-Home (DTH) services.

“We record these serials and then telecast late at night. Hence the poor people get to watch their soaps. It’s risky but this is what is happening. Everyone wants to watch these Indian soaps,” said a local cable man on condition of anonymity.

The prime time slot from 7.30 PM to 10.30 PM is for both Indian and Pakistani soaps.

Karachi women reveal how addicted they are to “saas-bahu” sagas, even battling for the TV remote in their homes during peak hours – just like their Indian counterparts.

The soaps also leave many questions in their minds.

“Do you people dress like TV actors in real life?” asked a curious Kulsoom Nawaz, 55, for whom these soaps are the only window to Indian culture.

A woman officer at the immigration counter at Jinnah Airport asked this IANS correspondent: “‘Aap yeh bataye ki kya aap log aise hi make-up laga kar ghoomti hain pura din aur phir sote hue bhi make-up nahi utarti hain’ (Do you people wear make-up throughout the day and even while you sleep)?”

They have also noted some peculiarities of Indian serials.

Marshita Aman, 58, asked: “Why does a person who is dead in a soap have to come back to life again?”

Most of the serials are full of kitchen politics and men are visible in almost every frame. Zahida said: “Why doesn’t the male member of these families go to work? Why do they have to be home all the time?”

“Why do you portray unrealistic things? Women of all generations in a household are shown as young and no one has a single strand of grey hair. It’s completely unreal. We wonder why you do this?” she asked.

Pakistani viewers also fail to understand why Indian soaps have “pooja” after every problem and why there are so many close-ups of characters.

Despite these questions, Karachi women swear by Indian soaps like “Pratigya”, “Kaali”, “Behene”, “CID”, “Bigg Boss” and “Uttaran” because of the presentation, costumes, larger-than-life sets.

They say in comparison Pakistani soaps are sombre, soft, subtle and very much close to reality. People usually watch Hum TV for soaps like “Qaid-e-Tanhai”, “Dastaan” and “Saiqa”.

“What you will see is that the women glued to these soaps are old women like us who have done their prayers, played with grandkids, slept and then at the end of the day want to entertain themselves,” explained Zaidi.

“We don’t have a pub culture; hence we have to be at home and end up watching these serials. Despite all these discrepancies, we watch these soaps because they have a feel good factor and female protagonists dress so beautifully; especially their saris are a delight to watch,” she added.

Marshita is appreciative of Indian actresses for their slim figures and make-up and says it is done brilliantly.

The viewers are still very fond of Tulsi (Smriti Irani) and Parvati (Sakshi Tanwar), the protagonists of “Kyunkii Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thii” and “Kahaani Ghar Ghar Kii” – the longest running soaps of Indian television – even though these ended a long time back.

So strong is their fascination that they often go hunting for jewellery pieces worn in the serials and equally often find Parvati or Tulsi style ornaments at Karachi’s local Sunday Bazaar and Sadar Bazaar!

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Reader Comments (15)

  • Shemrez Nauman Afzal
    Nov 11, 2010 - 12:52PM

    Can HUM TV and GEO please do something about this?
    Or will we keep on allowing ZEE TV and Star to brainwash our women and mess up our households? This is as detrimental as Indian cartoons indoctrinating our youth (if not worse, given the paramount role of women in society and the household).Recommend

  • Nov 11, 2010 - 1:18PM

    Do what we do in India. All the states have their own language channels with very down-to-earth soaps (much like the ones in pakistan). For instance my relations in Bangalore will watch only Kannada and Tamil serials. My maharashtrian friends will watch marathi serials and so on. And not surprisingly these regional language serials are generally more realistic given their limited budgets and their niche audiences. The over-the-top hindi soaps are mostly directed towards the towns and smaller cities in the Hindi belt – that is why their emphasis on rituals, religion and the concept of joint families. Having said that all of us have at one time or the other have been captivated by the gaudy sets, the incredible sarees and jewellery and the beautiful and endless wedding ceremonies. Recommend

  • Nov 11, 2010 - 1:24PM

    Quality sells itself ….. Recommend

  • Ali Zaidi
    Nov 11, 2010 - 2:07PM

    Not that I condone adults watching them, what we don’t realise is the influence these programmes have on our children.

  • Saman
    Nov 11, 2010 - 2:38PM

    A few months back there was an article about men liking these soaps, seems like cross marketing to me!Recommend

  • syed
    Nov 11, 2010 - 2:41PM

    Well we guys have two choices.
    1. Watch Indian/Western serials with women in modern dress and lifestyle.
    2. Watch pakistani/arabic channel with women in burka and conservative lifestyle.

    The choice is ours.Recommend

  • Hamza Baloch
    Nov 11, 2010 - 3:10PM

    syed.. Burka in Pakistani dramas.. are U joking?Recommend

  • Adi
    Nov 11, 2010 - 5:07PM

    well i feel indian soaps are nowhere near the popularity level it had till mid 2000s. Pak dramas have come back really strong in the past 3-4 years!Recommend

  • Nov 11, 2010 - 6:44PM

    Aen’t you promoting Indian sopas by writing/ publishing more and more articles on this site. Better write more about Pakistani soaps & culure. Recommend

  • Angelos
    Nov 11, 2010 - 8:11PM

    Inferiority complex, nothing else. Recommend

  • Anoop
    Nov 11, 2010 - 8:57PM

    Is this any surprise? India is a cultural juggernaut. Pakistan,due to massive mistake of making Urdu the official language, will always be influenced by Indian TVs, Movies, shows,etc. But, the reverse is not true. Why? Pakistani culture is getting Arabised. Indian cultural influences with its colour, festivals, glamour and beauty will always play a dominant part.Recommend

  • Neeraj, India
    Nov 12, 2010 - 12:22AM

    @Shermrez Nauman Afzal, You said, “will we keep on allowing ZEE TV and Star to brainwash our women and mess up our household”. Wow, really? Are the Pakistani women are so fickle minded and loose in their characteristics to get brainwashed and ‘corrupted’ by merely watching a silly drama on an Indian channel? No sir, I don’t think so. I encountered and saw many Pakistani women here on this forum ET who were exceptionally brilliant and ferociously independent in their thought and approach to the life. It is not just confined to the educated women, but also applies to the rural and uneducated women of the subcontinent whom I not only found to be very much conscious of the bitter realities of life, but also got impressed with their unwavering dedication to their families and the dear ones.
    Therefore, dude, get your mind checked, it is not the Pakistani women who are vulnerable to the brainwashing, but it is you, who is already brainwashed by the Mullah who it seems made you think that women are just pets or commodities to be protected by ‘outside’ influences. So much for the Mullah’s claim of giving equal rights to the fairer sex! Recommend

  • F. Alam
    Nov 12, 2010 - 4:46PM

    Can’t Pakistanis learn anything positive from India?? Why only cheap media stuff?

    Can’t Pakistanis think of building industries and automobiles like Tata? Why Saas Bahu & other rubbish? Maybe we as a nation don’t want to work hard. Recommend

  • Farzana Chandio
    Nov 12, 2010 - 11:18PM

    I don’t think adults watching the dramas will become Indianized or start doing poojas or whatever BUT if Pakistanis keep watching all the silly saas bahu dramas then surely in ten years time all those Pakistani entertainment channels, and the LIVLIHOOD of several thousand people who depend on them, will go the way of Lollywood. There is something known as protectionism of domestic industry but how can the Matric fail policymakers of the country know that? Recommend

  • Rizwan T Khan
    Nov 26, 2010 - 10:20AM

    Ban it!Recommend

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