Zindagi, an entertainment channel launched in India a while ago, has aired several Pakistani serials, all of which were popular with audiences on both sides of the border. It’s a very proud moment for us, we have a strong drama industry and this move is certainly going to improve relations between the two countries as they will be able to see the similarities in the lifestyles of the two populations and india will be able to see the real face of Pakistan, one that is positive. All in all, Zindagi’s effort has garnered positive reactions from both the rival countries and has helped in breaking stereotypes. All of this has been said over and over again.
While I’m very happy that our serials are receiving their much deserved glory, I can’t help but notice a vast difference in the reaction of Indian and Pakistani audience. The Indian audience welcomed the new content instead of protesting against it and weren’t hesitant in admitting that our drama industry is stronger than theirs. They openly appreciate that the serials aren’t endless and stick to a storyline till the end instead of wavering here and there.
As Zindagi Gulzar Hai’s ‘grand finale’ aired in India last night, viewers poured their reactions on Twitter and on Zindagi’s Facebook page biding a bitter-sweet farewell to a much loved serial. Zaroon and Kashaf had become part of their lives and imagining their evening without them is plain heartbreaking for most.
#zindagigulzarhai a beautiful show….loved zaroon…he is damn gudluking…my god…he is just brialliant…
— narwarpriyanka (@priyankachaud1) July 19, 2014
You know you’ve lost your mind when you start watching #zindagigulzarhai ‘s same episode three times a day.
— Divya khandelwal (@_divyakh_) July 19, 2014
#ZindagiGulzarHai came like a refreshing rain in d season of drought!got touched wet&mesmorized by it den left with sum beautiful memories.☺
— jyoti rajak (@jyotirajak1) July 19, 2014
“British Pakistani Actor-Model, Sanam Saeed is one of the strongest actors the Pakistani TV and film industry has to offer. She has played many characters that have been critically acclaimed, including her role in Zindagi Gulzar Hai and Mera Naseeb. Her character of Kashaf Murtaza in the show Zindagi Gulzar Hai (ZGH) that aired on Zindagi channel became extremely popular and she says that people still call her ‘Kashaf’ sometimes…” Sanam Saeed’s intro on dnaindia.com.
Similar reactions were seen when Aunn Zara ended on 12th of July.
— Smriti Kaur (@TweetFromSmriti) July 14, 2014
— Bhaavin chudasama (@BeingBhaveen) July 18, 2014
— raazia mir (@RaaziaMir) July 18, 2014
— sristhi singh (@sristhi10) July 17, 2014
Aw my mom is missing #AunnZara. :’)
— Harneet (@tamatar_) July 16, 2014
— Priyanka Bhatt (@iPriyankaBhatt) July 13, 2014
This is in stark contrast to the reactions we get from Pakistan’s audience every time a channel airs foreign content, especially Indian dramas. The latter takes seconds in resorting to abuse. The biggest argument is that showing ‘Hindu’ culture on our screens is actually corrupting our traditions and values. Anyone who dares to ask them to define what exactly they think is Pakistani culture, is labeled as an agent of the enemy.
However, they don’t seem to have any problem in rejoicing over ‘Muslim’ culture being aired on an Indian channel. Yes there are Muslims in India, a huge number of them, but there are more Hindus than Muslims and they have the wits to appreciate the difference in culture, whether it is digesting the fact that Kashaf’s father had two wives or that Aunn’s dadi reads Quran every day.
The reaction of the media on both sides is different as well. When Urdu 1 aired Turkish dramas, UPA held constant protests and condemned the channel on social media as well. Despite frequent reiteration that our industry is better than most, the fraternity felt insecure. On the other hand, since the time Pakistani serials have gained popularity on the other side of the border, top news papers and websites have done features and articles supporting the new channel along with publishing several interviews of Pakistani actors who were a part of serials that were aired.
and much more.
Admittedly, it’s a fantastic breakthrough for Pakistan’s television industry since it offers an all new audience that is eager to watch the serials that they find refreshing after their endless soaps. Hopefully our industry will grow and be appreciated internationally. And hopefully the Indian audience will like Maat, Noorpur Ki Rani, Behadd and all the amazing serials lined up for them on Zindagi. And even more hopefully, it will serve as a reality check for us and encourage us to be more accepting and tolerant towards change.