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Muslim serials back on TV,thanks to ‘Qubool Hai,Beintihaa’

'Qubool Hai' is encouraging channels to hunt for a suitable story set against the backdrop of Muslim community.

Written by Onkar Kulkarni |
December 6, 2013 4:24:48 am

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 channel’s number one show,’Jodha Akbar’.

Though an experiment by the channel,the serial did not take much time to catch on. Today,the show’s lead pair,Asad and Zoya,played by Karan Singh Grover and Surabhi Jyoti are household names.

Lending a freshness to the TV landscape,which is crowded with saas-bahu sagas and reality shows,’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 extra-marital affairs,and the iconic Doordarshan show Gul Gulshan Gulfam,which revolved around a Kashmiri family’s 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 Ekta Kapoor’s ‘Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi’. “It’s all a trend,” says producer Farhan Salruddin,producer of ‘Beintehaa’,which has Amrita Rao’s sister Preetika Rao making a debut on television.

“Serials such as ‘Basera’ and ‘Amaanat’,which were set amidst 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 don’t 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. “We were told by other channels that our country at this point of time was not ready for a show with Muslim backdrop,” she adds.

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 what convinced Zee to come up with a show like ‘Qubool Hai?’ “When I had a meeting with the ‘Qubool Hai’ production team,I was floored by the storyline. The love story and the family conflict blended beautifully with the Muslim setting,” explains Sukesh Motwani,senior programmer,who worked with Zee TV earlier.

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,” explains Salruddin.

Motwani echoes a similar thought. “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.”

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.”

With such shows,TV serials have a new offering. “Audiences are dying to see something new,but channels don’t provide them with that. From here on,channels should encourage good stories,which are set in varied backdrops than just repeat the same old settings,” says Jha.

That is exactly what Colors is attempting,says Bhatt,with a show like ‘Beintehaa’. “It highlights the rich Muslim culture,which has been sidelined for a long period of time on Indian television,” he says.

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