Realistic, less dramatic: Reasons behind rising popularity of Pakistani serials in India

Mumbai: In the mass of content that is being created every day, television definitely grabs the top spot. There is a possibility for a new set of audience garnering every day, as the mediums expand across the globe. While Indian desi content is still stuck in prolonged supernatural or typical saas-bahu stuff even now, it is the ones across the border that are being considered a breath of fresh air.

Yes, it is the Pakistani dramas are slowly becoming a popular choice for Indians over their own…and there are obvious, but specific reasons why.

When did Pak soaps start gaining popularity in India?

Pakistani dramas gained popularity in India after their TV channel broke into our living rooms and totally challenged our ideas and concepts of an Indian TV serial. We are talking about the Zindagi channel which was under Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited. Dramas like Humsafar, Zindagi Gulzar Hai and Meray Qatil Meray Dildar got immense love and recognition from across the border.

But following the 2016 Uri attack, the Zindagi channel whose Pakistani and Turkish dramas made it massively popular with Indian audiences, had decided to discontinue broadcasting Pakistani shows. Subsequently, Zee shut down its TV channel in India and restricted its content to its digital platform, Ozee.

But here’s the big question? Why? Why did Pakistani dramas receive such appreciation through the Indian industry is already well established? Why did Pakistani dramas receive such immediate acceptance and in fact a ‘binge-watching’ tag for many? spoke to a few people who revealed the main reasons why they prefer watching Pakistani serials over the Indian ones.

Here are the reasons why Indians prefer Pakistani Dramas

What sets Pakistani dramas apart is their fast pace (Pakistani dramas are finished under three months, compared to years for Indian shows), more realistic settings (middle-class houses instead of mansions), and, unlike Bollywood-inspired dramas, lack of singing and dramatic background music. We received similar reasons when we spoke to people from across Hyderabad and other states as well.

1. They don’t stretch for years and years

Being an Indian audience, we’re used to being served TV series which go on for years and years, and some more years!

Giving a similar reason, Sakina Fatima, a Hyderabad-based journalist said, “I started watching Pakistani dramas long before Zee Zindagi channel started in India. What I like about them is the time limit of episodes i.e., to 20-24 minutes. They choose a subject and stick to it. Pakistani dramas have a proper start and a definite end.”

“All their shows are bound by a tight, meaningful script, which ends within a few weeks or 1-2 months. And no doubt within that span of time they manage to show the entire series beautifully,” she stated.

She further added, “I literally binge watch Pakistani dramas.”

Umera Riyaz, a Hyderabad-based poet, “I’d prefer watching Pakistani Dramas over Indian serials any day. Pakistani dramas are based on novels and social issues. Their plots are gripping, their dramas show character development very beautifully. Although their dramas are only 30 episodes long, they leave a very longing impact. Some amazing dramas that I’d rewatch any day would be Khasara, Dil Mom Ka Diya, Zindagi Gulzar hai, Humsafar, and Sadaqat Tumhare.”

2. No typical ‘saas-bahu’ fights, as Pak dramas focus on social issues

Though many Indian channels including Colors and Star Plus try to bring in a fresh wave or some social issue, years after they become ‘saas-bahu’ tales again. Remember Balika Vadhu, Uttaran, Na Aana Iss Desh Laddo, and many more? They did really well with the TRPs but a few years down the line, these shows also ended up being saas-bahu sagas. But Pakistani series deal with real social issues and they even showcase mental health issues as well. For example, you can ‘Ishq Zehnaseeb’ which showcased mental health disorder (split disorder) and how people deal with it, so well. You can also watch ‘Kaash Main Teri Beti Na Hoti’ which is based on ‘surrogacy’.

“Though I began watching it late among my peers, Zindagi Gulzar Hai has been a popular watch. I disagreed with some parts, but it was overall an empowering storyline. It had less number of episodes (which also made it easier to binge-watch) and I never felt bored at one point too because of the social message it carried,” said Shreya, an under graduate student in New Delhi.

Zoya, an IT employee from Hyderabad weighed in. “Pakistani serials felt like a safe oasis in the desert of boring Indian content. Their themes are diverse, characters are relatable and they communicate well. I am of an opinion that we are in no way closer to making such culture-rich and content-strong dramas. Indian serial makers don’t enough of naagins and saas-bahu fights.”

3. More realistic and believable

Speaking about how Pakistani dramas are more real not overdramatic just like Indian serials, a blogger from Hyderabad, Nikita Venkatesh said, “Firstly I feel the emotions portrayed are not over the top and melodramatic. Though it’s Pakistani I can relate to their way of life, relationships and of course they have amazing fashion. Nothing looks fake or unnecessary.”

Pakistani shows deal with real people’s problems in a very simple yet realistic manner. The characters of the show are just like real, normal persons would behave in everyday life situations, making it much more believable.

4. ‘Dhum ta na na’ background music and exaggerating a dialogue is not their cup of tea

Indian TV serials no doubt are high octane dramas. Thanks to those ‘dhum ta na na’ background music. But Pak soaps are less towards the tangent of high octane drama and more towards realism. “Even the music used in these shows is subtle and beautiful. Pak dramas’ characters’ acting skills are enough to put any emotion across on screen,” Nikita stated.

Dialogues like “hey Ram! Yeh nahi ho sakta”, “humein yeh rishta manzoor nahi hai”, “ye shaadi nahi ho sakti”, “main tumhare bache ki maa banane wali hoon” are not ‘just exaggerated’ but they are ‘over-exaggerated’ which we think is really not required. “Unlike our Indian shows, Pakistani TV shows are simple and direct. I am more addicted towards them because overreacting and blowing a simple dialogue out of proportion is not their cup of tea,” Sara, a Hyderabad-based blogger said.

5. Weddings functions are not dragged for weeks and months

“Unlike the Indian typical soaps where festivals or weddings are just endless, Pakistani soap would hardly take 10-15 minutes screen time to showcase a wedding or any festival beautifully,” said Daneesh Majid, a writer-researcher from Hyderabad, who loves the way the dramas are made in Pakistan.

To sum up, Pakistani dramas are widely popular in India as well because they are relatable, deliver a social message, are close to reality, and just more believable.