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Updated: June 6, 2014 17:51 IST

Neighbour’s pride

  • S. M. AAMIR
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Zindagi comes to mark the completion of 20 years of Zee TV.
Special Arrangement
Zindagi comes to mark the completion of 20 years of Zee TV.

Zee TV is all set to start Zindagi, a new channel with content that focuses on Pakistan

When the Narendra Modi Government came to power, doubts were expressed in many sections of the society that Indo-Pak cultural ties will be adversely affected. After all, so many BJP and Shiv Sena leaders in the past have raised concerns over the entry of Pakistani artists in the country. Now, the sceptics can take it easy as for the first time a channel is being launched focussing primarily on content from Pakistan.

Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited (ZEEL) is launching its channel in India, Zindagi, which will show a slice of life in Pakistan to Indian and international viewers. The channel will showcase work by Pakistani directors, actors, script writers, lyricists and singers. The shows will be based on popular novels by Pakistani stalwarts. The original songs are sung by singers like Ali Zafar, Abida Parveen, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Shafqat Amanat Ali and other leading singers of that country.

According to the channel, the shows will be directed by ace Pakistani directors like Sarmat Sultan, Mehreen Jabbar and Haisan Hussain, leading actors like Fawad Afzal Khan who will be seen playing the lead role in the Hindi movie which is a remake of Khubsurat alongside Sonam Kapoor, Mahira Khan, Sanam Saeed, Noman Aijaz and Samira Ghazal.

Before launching such a channel, ZEEL has done a survey in some of the major cities of India which revealed that the Indian audience which is quite bored by watching usual the saas-bahu sagas, are ready for an alternative content.

Speaking at the launch in New Delhi, ZEEL Chief Content and Creative Officer, Bharat Ranga, said, “It is a first ever national launch for a Hindi language channel as we believe that the stories showcased on this channel will have an appeal even in the southern part of the country. The channel’s proposition ‘Jodey Dilon Ko’ is based on the fact that even if people across the globe are culturally different, they celebrate different festivals, yet the stories of their lives are universal. Zindagi will offer alternative fiction content suitable for Indian sensibilities. We believe that culture and talent should not be bound by any barriers. These stories are not about India and Pakistan, we are only trying to show their stories to viewers in India. The language is so sweet and the scripts are also very good.”

Shailja Kejriwal, Content Head-Special Projects, ZEEL, said, “In the beginning, we will start with six-seven shows. We are trying to bring their stories to India. The artists in Pakistan are fabulous. I have been researching on this project for quite some time. To shortlist the stories and actors I had put in nearly 10,000 hours. What I have experienced is that they are eager to work with us and be seen on Indian television. Here, I must add that their artists do recognise the purity of content unlike our artists. If they do not like the script of a show or the lyrics of a song, they will immediately say no. They will never do it only for money.” She went on to add that the Pakistani audience “has access to our shows and know a lot about our television whereas we do not have access to their shows which in a way show that we are more conservative.”

In the run-up to the launch in New Delhi, ZEEL,Chairman, Subhash Chandra met the Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and apprised him of the new channel.

Interestingly, a large part of the shooting has been done in Pakistan besides UAE and the U.K. “People will get to see a lot of Karachi and Lahore. The shooting, unlike our shows, has happened mostly outdoors.”

Zindagi comes to mark the competition of 20 years of Zee TV. “It is an attempt to give the channel an international image and prepare it for the increasing competition from abroad.”

The channel will be launched on June 23 and the programmes will be telecast from 8 to 11 p.m. and will be available on both analog and digital ( DTH and digital cable) platforms in India.

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