When Zee network head Subhash Chandra declared that Zindagi channel would no longer air Pakistani TV serials following the terrorist attack in Uri in 2016, fans like 33-year-old Deepti Batra were devastated—until they discovered dubbed dramas from Turkey on the channel. “The characters are memorable and they motivate you,” says the Amritsar-based tuition teacher, for whom the shows are a window into the geography, people, music and clothes of a foreign culture. “Fatmagul is an inspiration for many girls,” she says of a Turkish drama about a rape survivor who takes the perpetrators to court.
Zindagi’s first experiment with foreign-language soaps was Turkey’s Feriha, a mushy college romance between a wealthy boy and a girl from a working class background. Then came Fatmagul and Little Lord, a light-hearted family drama in which an enthusiastic child tries to bring together his bickering parents.
Like their Indian counterparts, these shows feature big families, women-driven narratives and plenty of melodrama, romance and betrayal. Many stories centre on star-crossed lovers from different backgrounds.
Fatmagul and Feriha were so popular they earned Zindagi the top spot among premium entertainment channels, according to BARC’s Alpha Club Ratings.
Zindagi is looking farther afield. Recently, it began airing the Ukrainian revenge drama Snowdrop. Descendants of the
Sun, a South Korean love story about a military officer and a surgeon, is coming soon. Shows from Spain, Italy and Latin America are in the pipeline. “I don’t think I will ever be able to watch Hindi soaps again,” says Batra.
They feature big families, women-driven narratives and plenty of melodrama
SAME BUT DIFFERENT A still from Descendants of the Sun