Indian soap opera

Indian soap operas or Indian serials are soap operas written, produced, filmed in India, with characters played by Indians with episodes broadcast on Indian television.[1]

India's first soap opera was Hum Log, which concluded with 154 episodes. Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai is the longest running Hindi serial in the history of Indian television with 2,253 episodes as on 26th November 2016 (still running).

The most common languages in which Indian serials are made in are Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Bengali, Tamil, Kannada, Odia, Telugu, and Malayalam, though many contain a mix of the predominant language and English.

Indian soap operas are also broadcast in South Asia, Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and francophone Africa.[2][3]


India's first soap opera was Hum Log, which first aired in 1984[4] and concluded with 154 episodes, was the longest running serial in the history of Indian television at the time it ended. It had an audience of 60 million.[5] Every episode of was about 25 minutes long, and the last episode was about 55 minutes. At the end of every episode, veteran Hindi film actor Ashok Kumar would discuss the ongoing story and situations with the audience using Hindi couplets and limericks. In later episodes, he would introduce the actors who played characters in the serial and end his monologue with the Indian language versions of the words "Hum Log."

Biographies of famous people started being produced in the form of soap operas. Meera was a biography of Meera, Veer Shivaji portrayed Chhatrapati Shivaji Shahji Raje Bhosle, Jhansi Ki Rani presented Rani Lakshmi Bai of Jhansi, Chanakya covered Chanakya and Chittod Ki Rani Padmini Ka Johur portrayed Rani Padmini,Chakravartin Ashoka Samrat is a biography of Ashoka and Bharat ka veer putra Maharana Pratap was biography of Maharana Pratap

Crime shows also started being produced and aired. Adaalat was an Indian television courtroom drama series which revolves around 'Advocate K.D Pathak', a defense lawyer with an impeccable track record of winning cases and setting helpless innocent victims free, but not at the cost of upholding the truth and C.I.D., follows a team of detectives belonging to the Crime Investigation Department in Mumbai. The protagonist of the show is Shivaji Satam. C.I.D. is the longest-running TV series in India.[6]

Social impact

Soaps affect Indian society, with regard to national integration, identity, globalisation,[7] women, ethics and social issues in rural areas. The first Indian soap opera, Hum Log, began as a family planning program, and although it quickly turned its focus to entertainment, it continued to embed pro-development messages which provided a model of utilizing the television serial as an "edutainment" method that was followed by countries around the world.[8]

A 2007 study of cable coming to rural India showed that it led to "significant decreases in the reported acceptability of domestic violence towards women and son preference, as well as increases in women's autonomy and decreases in fertility." It also "found suggestive evidence that exposure to cable increases school enrollment for younger children, perhaps through increased participation of women in household decision-making."[9][10]

Status in Pakistan

Indian soap operas are popular in Pakistan and Indian entertainment channels are widely watched, due to the mutual intelligibility between Urdu and Hindi.[11][12] The Supreme Court of Pakistan has banned the showing of Indian films and soap operas.[13] The British Broadcasting Corporation has reported that cable television operators in Pakistan often violate the ban and air Indian television serials due the high popularity and demand for these in Pakistan, and Indian television shows make up nearly 60 percent of all foreign programmes broadcast in Pakistan.[14]

In June 2006, Pakistani comedian Rauf Lala participated and won the comedy television show, The Great Indian Laughter Challenge but could not be followed by fellow Pakistanis as the show was not allowed to be aired.[15] An official has commented that "Bollywood [and Indian television soaps] have invaded our homes".[16]

Indian television shows have contributed heavily to the Sanskritisation of Urdu in Pakistan, and it has been reported that many Hindi words such as namaste (नमस्ते), maharani (महारानी) and chinta (चिंता), which have been an inherent part of sanskritized Hindi, have entered standard usage in Pakisan due to the influence of these soaps and Bollywood movies.[17]

The viewing of Indian soaps has become so popular that mainstream newspapers such as the Pakistan Tribune often have feature articles on the shows.[18] Since satellite connections offer uninterrupted coverage of Indian shows, many people have bought these to watch the programmes.[19]

Anti-Indian sentiment is reported in Pakistan and the two countries have fought four wars. However, the effect of Indian soap operas and Bollywood have resulted in an increase in how "favourably an ordinary Pakistani views [India and] Indians." Certain Indian tourists to Pakistan have said that people are particularly friendly if one is from India.[20]

After the ban of Indian shows Turkish shows became popular in Pakistan and invaded Indian content. Then, some officials got worried and they backed out some networks to degrade Turkish content and some channels like Geo Kahani, Urdu1 & Express Entertainment started airing 90% Indian serials, who are earning money due to the poor rating system in Pakistan.[21]

See also


  1. Pak-Hind Ka Swag, Book 5 "Culture, Technology and fun", chapter 16 "soap opera, Serials and films"
  2. Geeta Pandey. "BBC - Culture - Indian soap operas: Family affairs". BBC Culture.
  3. "India Marginalized in Myanmar".
  4. Kohli, Vanita (14 June 2006). The Indian Media Business. SAGE Publications. pp. 1–. ISBN 9780761934691. Retrieved 1 February 2014.
  5. Gokulsing, K. Moti (2004). Soft-soaping India: The World of Indian Televised Soap Operas. Trentham Books. pp. 32–. ISBN 9781858563213. Retrieved 1 February 2014.
  6. "What makes this TV show such a hit with Indians?". Retrieved 6 August 2010.
  7. Gokulsing, K. (2004). Soft-Soaping India: The World of Indian Televised Soap Operas. Trentham Books, UK. ISBN 1-85856-321-6. p. 105.
  8. Aggarwal, Vir Bala; Gupta, V. S. (1 January 2001). Handbook of Journalism and Mass Communication. Concept Publishing Company. pp. 208–. ISBN 9788170228806. Retrieved 1 February 2014.
  9. Jensen, Robert & Oster, Emily Oster (August 2007). "The Power of TV: Cable Television and Women's Status in India." Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press. Vol. 124(3) pp. 1057-1094.
  10. Munshi, Shoma (2010). Prime Time Soap Operas on Indian Television. Routledge, New Delhi. ISBN 978-0-415-55377-3. pp. 200.
  11. Archived 12 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  12. "Pakistani women love India's 'saas-bahu' sagas – The Express Tribune". Retrieved 13 January 2015.
  13. "Indian TV Channels Banned in Pakistan". Pakistan Defence. Retrieved 13 January 2015.
  14. "BBC NEWS - South Asia - Pakistan allows Indian TV shows". Retrieved 13 January 2015.
  15. "BBC NEWS - South Asia - Pakistani comic's Indian joy". Retrieved 13 January 2015.
  16. "BBC NEWS - Entertainment - Pakistan confirms Bollywood ban". Retrieved 13 January 2015.
  17. "For many Pakistanis, India already MFN". Retrieved 13 January 2015.
  18. "10 things I hate about Indian soaps". Retrieved 13 January 2015.
  19. Rob Crilly in Islamabad (3 October 2010). "Pakistanis snap up Satellite dishes for Indian soaps". Retrieved 13 January 2015.
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