Indian TV drama dominates domestic

By Andy Fry
July 8, 2016

Hit & Miss

In the week that India’s Zee Entertainment Enterprises announced plans for a global SVoD push, we look at some of the shows that are currently captivating Indian audiences around the world.

Yeh-hai-mohabbatein-ishita-ruhi-and-raman-wallpaper-1Ye Hai Mohabbatein (This is Love): This is hugely popular soap launched in December 2013 and is still a top-rating show at time of writing. Broadcast on Star Plus, the feelgood story is loosely based on Manju Kapur’s novel Custody. Set in Delhi, it follows the relationship between Ishida, who is a Tamil, and Raman, who is Punjabi. The show is produced by Ekta Kapoor of Balaji Telefilms and airs throughout the week.

Kumkum Bhagya (Vermillion In My Fate): Kumkum Bhagya is Zee TV’s most popular drama and is widely credited with having reinvigorated the channel’s audience. Launched in April 2014, the show centres on the life of a Punjabi matriarch called Sarla Arora and her two daughters. Sarla runs a marriage hall and lives with the hope of seeing her two very different daughters, Pragya and Bulbul, happily married one day. This is another series from Ekta Kapoor’s Balaji Telefilms. The core appeal of the show is in its feisty female central characters.

Chakravartin-Ashoka-Samrat-1Chakravarti Ashok Samrat (The Great Emperor Ashok): This period drama centres on the life of Ashoka the Great (304-232 BCE), a ruthless ruler who eventually converted to Buddhism. The show started airing on Viacom-owned Colors in early 2015 and is written by author and screenwriter Ashok Banker. It is produced for Colors by Contiloe Entertainment.

Saath Nibhaana Saathiya: A daily soap that has so far racked up more than 1,000 episodes on Star Plus, Saath Nibhaana Saathiya is centred on the lives of two female cousins after their respective marriages within the Modi family. Within India, the show has seen several local-language remakes into Marathi, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada and Bengali. It has also been dubbed into Telugu and licensed to neighbouring Sri Lanka.

Taarak_Mehta_Ka_Ooltah_ChashmahTaarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah: One of the most watched shows of 2016, this is a durable comedy with a strong multicultural dimension, based around a group of families living in a Mumbai residential area. It has been airing daily on SAB TV since 2008, with a late-night repeat. The show is based on a newspaper column by Taarak Mehta for the Gujarati magazine Chitralekha and is reckoned to be one of the world’s longest-running comedies, having hit 1,700 episodes in 2015. The 2,000th episode of this remarkable programme will air in August.

Kavach – Kaali Shaktiyon Se (Shield – From Dark Forces): This  supernatural romance series airs on Viacom’s Colors. The show is a love story with a supernatural touch and is doing well in the ratings, having taken over from fellow Colors hit Naagin (Female Snake), which ran from November 2015 to June 2016. Both shows are interesting because they are closed-ended series, unlike the long-running soaps that have dominated Indian viewing over the years. Naagin was a big hit for Colors and has been given a second season (October 2016). Once again, Ekta Kapoor is the brains behind the show.

diya-aurDiya Aur Baati Humi (We Are Like the Earthen Lamp and its Wick): This is a long-running Indian soap on Star Plus. It launched in 2011 and tells the story of Sandhya, a police officer who has to balance her job and her responsibilities towards her husband and his family (an important social issue in modern India). The show continues to draw a strong, loyal audience but declining ratings mean it may not last much longer.

Sasural Simar Ka (Simar In-Laws Home): Another show that places a strong emphasis on female characters in family situations, this one is about two close sisters who fall in love with two brothers, Siddhant and Prem, and live together in the Bharadwaj household. Where the series differs from a standard Indian soap, however, is that a group of supernatural creatures are determined to destroy the family, with the two sisters having to take them on and defeat them. The show launched in 2011 on Colors and is produced by Rashmi Sharma Telefilms.

Swaragini_SerialSwaragini – Jodein Rishton Ke Sur (Swaragini – Joins the Melody of Relationships): This is another successful show for Colors, which has proved a strong rival for Star Plus and Zee. Launched in March 2015, Swaragini is about two step-sisters from Kolkata who come from families that dislike each other. The popularity of the series is evident in the fact that it has been dubbed into Tamil for use on Raj TV. It has also been dubbed into Arabic and aired on MBC Bollywood.

Ek_Tha_Raja_Ek_Thi_RaniEk Tha Raja Ek Thi Rani (There Was Once a King, There Was Once a Queen): This popular period drama airs on Zee TV. At the time of writing, it is coming up to 250 episodes. The show is set during the 1940s and focuses on the daughter of the heavily-indebted royal family of Amerkot. It hasn’t rated as well this year as it did in 2015, but seems safe for now. Internationally, it has aired on Geo Kahani in Pakistan.

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