Turkey to the Rescue of Zindagi
The derailment of the dialogue process between India and Pakistan after the Uri attack forced Subhash Chandra Goyal led Zee TV to close down telecast of Pakistani plays on its popular Zindagi channel.
The Uri attack had led to increased hostilities between the two countries forcing Pakistani actors including Fawad Khan to leave India after the Shiv Sena threatened to stall the screening of 'Ae Dil Hai Mushkil' unless he condemned Pakistan's aggression.
On October 3,2016 Zee stopped telecasting of Pakistani plays and the TRP of Zindagi channel was severely affected and the channel had to do some fresh thinking.
Sunil Buch of Zee Enterprises declared that they were planning to get content from Portugal,Germany,Italy, Spain,Latin America and Korea.He also declared that they were working on a co production with Geo TV titled'Teri meri Jodi'.
But all these have yet to be tested for their popular appeal and acceptance among the Indian audiences.
With immediate effect Zee had to launch some more plays from Turkey after the success of Feriga, as Pakistan was out of the radar.One of them is 'Fatmagul' which is proving as popular a hit as Feriha.Plus a comedy revolving around a child titled,'Little Lord' has also been added to the evening slot.Zindagi had already started repeat telecast of Feriha in another time slot.And since last week it has started telecasting 'Feriha new season' beginning with the last episode of Feriha who had been killed in the last scene.
In addition, the channel is promising to launch yet another play from Turkey, titled 'Kuzey Guney' which means that the time-slot for the evening starting at 6 pm will be dominated by plays from Turkey as Fatmagul ends at 10 pm.
There are some Indian plays that are also being telecast in the prime evening slot.But one look at the play 'TV ke us paar' would be enough to put you off from TV for ever.Or in the alternative, the housewives and others not interested in the hot debates on news channels would prefer to watch 'Times Now' where the anchors are trying to carry on the bluster started by Arnab Goswami without the flamboyance he carried with his persona!
When Zindagi was launched wth great fanfare in 2014 Fawad Khan was the toast of the nation.In fact, the channel was introduced by Kirron Kher as a harbinger of Indo Pak unity through theatre.
Zindagi with its plays like Zindagi Gulzar Hai,Humsafar and Dastaan brought about a dramatic change in viewership pattern of the Indian mindset.
Fed on the Ekta Kapoor brand of Sas Bahu drama with heavily dressed and decorated women acting vampish and suited-booted men who never have to go to work to make a living because they have no time from their endless affairs, Indian audiences were looking for some escape from this escapist fare.
The Pakistani plays, with their novel story line and themes came as a refreshing change for Indian audiences.The initial resistance among the Indian mindset of Pakistan making inroads into the bed rooms through its cultural package soon gave away thanks to the gentle persuasion of Kirron Kher and gradually became an addiction.
What added to the addiction for Indian audiences was the inclusion of Bollywood songs and references to Shahrukh Khan and Salman Khan in these plays so casually that people forgot they were watching Pakistani plays.
One particular play which turned me into an addict 'Pyare Afzal' had the 'Pyassa' song 'Jane wo kaise log the jinko Pyar se Pyar mila' in the background almost throughout.The ending of the play like most of the other plays had the most unpredictable ending which added to its ever lasting charm.
Zee seems to have hit the nail on the head when Buch revealed the formula for the success of their selection of Pakistani plays because they were finite episodes.
Compared to the Indian serials that go on and on Buch was clear that,"We would never have shows which will have a span of 4 or 5 years...it has to be fast paced...somehow it has to reach the intellect of the viewer."
Later on Zindagi started telecasting plays from Turkey which started with its blockbuster 'Feriha' which became a bigger hit than even the Pakistani plays.That also gave them a safety valve for the future as is evident from its new strategy.