A year since its launch,Qubool Hai has notched up top ratings for Zee TV. With 5830 TVTs (Television Viewership in Thousands) in Week 47,it is second to the channels number one show,Jodha Akbar. Though an experiment,the serial did not take much time to catch on. Today,the shows lead pair,Asad and Zoya,played by Karan Singh Grover and Surabhi Jyoti,are household names.
Lending a freshness to the TV landscape,Qubool Hai is encouraging channels and producers to hunt for a suitable story set against the backdrop of the Muslim community. It was not surprising to see Colors launching Beintehaa,a show set around the Muslim community. But what made muslim serials go off the TV radar in the first place?
During the 90s,several muslim serials were popular. Be it the story of Heena (Simone Singh),who struggles through an unhappy marriage,or be it Juhi Parmar in the title role of Shaheen,a serial that dealt with extramarital affairs,and the iconic Doordarshan show Gul Gulshan Gulfam,which revolved around a Kashmiri familys houseboat business being affected by terrorism.
From 2000 onwards,the decline of Muslim shows started. It was taken over by joint family shows and saas-bahu conflicts with the success of Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi. Its all a trend, says producer Farhan Salruddin,producer of Beintehaa,which has Amrita Raos sister Preetika Rao making a TV debut. Serials such as Basera and Amaanat,set amid Punjabi backdrops,ruled the roost then. But when dailies got introduced,producers started making their shows with a Gujarati set-up, he adds.
While most experts attribute the renewed interest in Muslim socials to cyclical pattern of trends,there are some who blame channels for lacking vision. Our channels dont show any foresight. I am sure producers might be approaching them with great ideas,but nothing comes out of it, says Mrinal Jha,Creative Producer of Qubool Hai. She claims that they approached many channels before Zee TV,and faced opposition. Prem Krishen of Cinevistaa,(makers of Gul Gulshan Gulfam) agrees with Jha,saying,Hum toh wohi banaate hai,jo channel hume bolte hain. Earlier we made Katha Sagar for DD,it featured classic tales and was a huge hit then. But today if I approach any channel with such a show,they will not show interest. Prashant Bhatt,Content Head (weekday programming) of Colors,begs to differ. He says,producers themselves fail to come up with interesting ideas that lends itself well to a Muslim backdrop.
But the content is the key driving factor behind most shows. When I went with Beintehaa to Colors,they loved the story and went ahead with the deal. It all boils down to the core idea,and not the setting, says Salruddin. Motwani agrees. It indeed is all about the story. Qubool Hai had a universal storyline. Even if we were taking a risk by breaking the clutter with a fresh setting,we were sure that if we back the project with a good star cast,nothing could stop the show from being a success, he says.
With top daily soaps being watched by audiences abroad as well as what is the response to a show set with a Muslim backdrop? Qubool Hai is one of the popular shows outside India. It has an audience in the UK and US,but the show is making profits from our neighbouring countries, explains Jha. Salruddin adds,Though my show is set in a Muslim family,it is truly Indian at heart. It revolves around an Indian Muslim family,so any Indian abroad would like to watch it.