New Channel Zindagi gives us a peek into the lives of our Pakistani neighbourshttps://indianexpress.com/article/entertainment/play/new-channel-zindagi-gives-us-a-peek-into-the-lives-of-our-pakistani-neighbours/

New Channel Zindagi gives us a peek into the lives of our Pakistani neighbours

SHAILJA KEJRIWAL, Chief Creative Head, Special Projects, ZEEL, on their new channel Zindagi and sourcing content from across the border.

A still from Zindagi Gulzar Hai; Shailja Kejriwal
A still from Zindagi Gulzar Hai; Shailja Kejriwal

There is something extremely enduring about stories from Pakistan. In the early ’80s, many of us saw pirated VHS tapes of Pakistani dramas such as Dhoop Kinaare, Tanhaiyaan and Ankahi. Anyone who has seen these shows remembers their actors, fashion, dialogues and story lines. They are similar to Indian shows, but not the same. They are relatable yet unique. If television is about peeping into your neighbour’s home through a keyhole, then watching TV shows from Pakistan is quite literally that. Perhaps that’s the allure. Or perhaps it’s the fact that the industry is still passionate about telling new stories rather than churning out research-led replicas. This is the reason why I believe that the Indian audience would like the content on our new channel.

We are working with Pakistani content, as well as content producers initially. After that we will be widening our boundaries to include shows that are produced in Turkey and Latin America. Pakistani content is closest to the Hindi speaking markets. In fact, a Bengali woman from Kolkata will understand Pakistani content much more than say a Marathi serial. A person from Hyderabad will be able to understand this content faster than a Bengali show. Hence, content from Pakistan becomes the default choice to start with.

The genres of shows will mostly be social dramas, romantic comedies and family dramas. But they will all be finite, and not never-ending sagas. We also plan to re-introduce the concept of tele-films. Some of the shows that we will be launching first are Zindagi Gulzar Hai, Aun Zara and Kitani Girhein Baaki Hain. There will be no movies or  non-fiction content.

Television is such a powerful medium and a GEC (General Entertainment Channel) is even more powerful in the manner that it affects people. If a story can send a nation into national mourning on the death of its beloved character, it can also be the catalyst to a more peaceful and prosperous subcontinent by changing mindsets of people.

There comes a time in everyone’s life when they look towards doing something beyond the scope of a regular job. I feel the same way now after having worked in the entertainment space for 18 years. I now feel that entertainment should have some purpose. And it’s  with this thought that Zindagi  was conceived.