Zindagi, the channel that brought freshness enough into the Hindi GEC space with sensible, sensitive, entertaining content a little over two years ago, will come out with five new shows from Turkey and India from Monday, the 3rd of October. Going by the concepts and initial promos, the interesting– and equally crucially, finite – storylines ‘from across the world’ seem to be in sync with Zindagi’s sensible, sensitive programming and will appeal to its premium audiences. And to debunk what Zeel Chief Business Officer Sunil Buch believes is a myth that too many youngsters and viewers on mobile do not watch GEC content, Zindagi will take to Periscope as the first channel in the entire Indian TV industry to offer live streaming on Periscope, simultaneously with the linear TV feed, on Days 1, 2 and 3 starting Monday, the 3rd of October. The entire channel is also available live on Zee’s Ditto TV, and before long, should be available in a dual feed of English and Hindi for bilingual premium audiences.
In fact, Zindagi, which has rated highly amongst premium audiences per BARC, received a strong network marketing push that demonstrates the belief that Zindagi can provide clutter-breaking relief to TV drama fans increasingly restive with outlandish, exaggerated and unrealistic dramas. The Zee Network gave Zindagi a network block across all 33 channels on the 30th of September.
Zindagi’s core TG for all its marketing communications is NCCS A Females 22+. It targets males too, and has garnered discerning and premium audiences over the last 27 weeks to maintain its position as the No. 1 Premium Entertainment Channel with 710 average GTVTs. (Source: BARC Alpha Club ratings; TG: NCCS A1, 6 Metros, Period: WK5’ To WK 32’2016, AV GTVTs).
But let’s take a quick look at the shows first; after all, good content will make its own place, as Zindagi seems to have shown.
Five New Shows
There are five new shows, and these, very briefly here (with more details later in this story) are
Khwaabon Ki Zamin Par: Produced by Anupam Khers production company Actor Prepares, is a young aspiring actor’s story — one that pits his Bollywood dreams against his personal values. To air Mondays to Saturdays at 10 pm.
The six-weeknights slotting asserts that drama fans will watch their favourite shows even on a Saturday evening or night. Most of India still mainlines on Television as its primary source of entertainment.
Agar Tum Saath Ho: Produced by Gulshan Sachdeva’s Films and Shots, Agar Tum Saath Ho is a love story destroyed by class differences and a rich, over-protective, meddlesome, father who interferes in the married life of his daughter, worried because she has married way beneath his class and stature. To air Mondays to Saturdays, 7 pm.
TV Ke Uss Paar: Produced by Sunjoy Waddhwa’s Sphereorigins, this is, well, TV OCD mom enters TV world – a tongue-in-cheek sitcom on the world of daily soaps and a reality check on how today’s society is obsessed with television. To air Mondays to Saturdays at 8.30 pm
Little Lord: This lighthearted Turkish drama makes child’s play of fighting parents and a broken marriage, with a young lad caught in the middle. Who has other plans for his parents who are on the verge of divorce! To air Mondays to Saturdays at 7:30 pm.
Fatmagul: A Turkish blockbuster show, Fatmagul essays the journey of an innocent girl whose life takes a drastic, unimaginable change! To air Mondays to Saturdays at 9 pm. The show will continue, in the 9 pm slot.
Feriha: Also, after a successful first season of Feriha, Zindagi will soon premiere its second season.
For movie buffs, the Zindagi Awesomes property will feature iconic films.
There was to have been a sixth show too, a co-production with Geo TV but which, after Pakistan’s malicious and grievous misdemeanour in Uri, prompted Zee and Essel Chairman Dr. Subhash Chandra, or Subhash ji, as he is fondly known, to pull it off the Zindagi schedule. In fact, he was the first and at that time perhaps the only major Indian Corporate Leader to come out and condemn the Pakistani PM and state that Zindagi, known to be driven by Pakistani television dramas, was considering pulling out all Pakistani content.
A powerful statement from India against terrorism.My salute to our brave #IndianArmy soldiers for executing a successful operation. Jai Hind
— Dr. Subhash Chandra (@subhashchandra) September 29, 2016
unfortunate stance of Mia Sharif at UN. Zee is considering stopping Zindgi programs from Pak,as well artists from there should leave
— Dr. Subhash Chandra (@subhashchandra) September 24, 2016
Zee has been the only supporter of Pak artists. They either condenm terrorist acts, if not they can not do that, leave
— Dr. Subhash Chandra (@subhashchandra) September 25, 2016
Obviously, it wasn’t as if the Pakistani dramas were all pulled off and replaced over the past fortnight. The revamp of programming was on the cards and would have been worked over for several months. But all credit to Subhash ji for keeping the National interests and respect above everything else, and coming out to strongly condemn Pakistan and pulling off a pre-slotted and under-production show regardless of the hole it would have made in the Zindagi schedule (or FPC in programming jargon).
Incidentally, Subhashi ji also issued a statement through a Zindagi release, which explained why they decided to pull the Pakistani shows off the channel. “It’s an unfortunate decision we had to take to stop all programming from Pakistan,” Subhash ji said. “We at Zee, have tried for the past 24 years to bridge the gap; however, the one-way street is not working. We took a decision in our hearts right after the Uri attack. Our team met and agreed for the same. We at Zindagi want to respect the sentiments of our viewers, and of our country, and that is why we had to take this step.”
“Zindagi has been the reason for the rise of a number of stars from Pakistan, but when we requested them to at least condemn the attacks without naming their country, none of them came forward,” Subhash ji added.
And by the way, very soon after Subhash ji’s tweet, we also saw another respected corporate leader, Rata Tata, come out in full support of the Nation’s priorities and action.
Hearty congratulations to India’s armed forces and Intel agencies for successful surgical retaliatory action against Pak terrorist camps.
— Ratan N. Tata (@RNTata2000) September 29, 2016
So proud of Indian govt’s firm stand on bycot of SARC mtg & overwhelming support by member nations.
— Ratan N. Tata (@RNTata2000) September 28, 2016
Let’s get back to Zindagi, now.
Zindagi – past and future
Let’s pause to look at what has worked on Zindagi, and why today, the channel boasts of a prime audience in numbers big enough to nearly equal the biggest English Movies channel, and far outstrip all the English GECs too. And that without much fanfare, under the marketing cacophony, as it were.
So why, even on the very day it was launched in June 2014, did Zindagi make a strong impact on social media? Because it was not over the top, it had real looking and sounding stories with characters you believed because they behaved and reacted in consistence with your expectations of how real people would, and because their stories, situations, dialogues in every kind of mood and situation, were consistent with reality. Spoken. Conversational; even subtle, but always impactful, without ever sacrificing the the drama of the situation, the intensity of the moment. The reaction was pure joy. Wonderment, relief and gratitude, even!
Many creative and business heads, writers and celebrities let out an appreciative din on Twitter, much like homing birds do when coming in to roost on their tree at dusk. I wish I could lay my hands on those tweets, and I will when I have time to gather them and update this post, but suffice it to say, for now, that the irony that was lost on most was of the fact that many of the ‘tweeters’ had been in positions in the Media & Entertainment business to have brought in the same breath of fresh air in their own spheres of influence, but hadn’t been able to. But hey, that’s not what this story is about.
Across its two years-plus, thanks largely to the Pakistani series and in much smaller part to the Indian productions it launched and tried to nurture to continue the freshness and realism that had been missing on Indian TV fiction, the programming team at Zindagi, the little Hindi GEC launched without too much fanfare, kept maintaining the quality of its offerings, with excellent results. The kind that would delight any TV channel’s business head.
That was what the Pakistani dramas like “Humsafar”, “Zindagi Gulzar Hai”, “Maat”, “Shehr-e-Zaat” and “Dastaan” helped create for Zindagi. In the recent past, it had permiered some Indian productions but none could really make a strong mark.
Good concepts; rooted, non-judgmental dramas
To my mind, two important things about the scripts of the Pakistani telenovelas that stand out, have to do with the storylines and characterisations, and the dialogue.
The first: the storylines definitely seem to demonstrate more than a modicum of the restraint one would expect in a conservative society that tv dramas largely target in Pakistan. And the second is to do with the dialogue: everyday, very spoken Urdu that is delivered with a sweet smooth musical slightly Punjabi cadence that has an endearingly earthy appeal.
What these two strengths achieved was the creation of an empathy with prominent characters, which led to an emotional attachment and following in the viewer.
The world over, it is the finite shows that are garnering equity in viewers’ minds and making the biggest impact for advertisers too, and finite shows have been in Zindagi’s DNA, even if in per force — at launch at least because the Pakistani telenovellas its premiered with in June 2014 were all finite anyways. Remember, it was was the first Indian Hindi GEC to end a show in the shortest duration when it ended the run of Aunn Zara, the Pakistani telenovella, on 12 July 2014, just 20 days after it had premiered on 23 June 2014.
Happily, that is now the stated belief of Zindagi programming, but not yet in the cast-in-stone certainty of number of episodes each India-produced series will last. It does say that each series will wind up after “six to 9 months,” which tells us the stories are not exactly finite in classic terms or the end would have been written and we’d know how many epsiodes of the series would air. But for sure, there won’t be interminably dragged series, with idiotic leaps and disgusting twists and turns that we have seen even amongst some of – initially – the best shows on other Hindi GECs. So that, definitely, is a relief. What a finite series does is, it assures the viewer that there will be logic to the entertainment, and that s/he can look forward to similarly good engagement from the channel. That, really, is great appointment viewing – the appointment to view not a show in particular, but to view – and always check while surfing – a particular channel.
New shows on Zindagi: The lowdown
Now here’s the complete lowdown on all the new shows, with credits and even the OST where available.
Khwaabon Ki Zamin Par
The story of glitz and glamour of Bollywood on one hand, and his personal values on the other.
Arya a 24-year-old boy leaves behind his friends, family and girlfriend Niyati, and comes to Bombay to fulfill his dream of being a star. It is during this journey, that his paths cross with Shikha – an established Bollywood Diva — who might hold the key to his first break. But all dreams demand their pound of flesh! What are the values he is ready to forego? Will he succeed and achieve what he has set out for?
In fact, Anupam Kher has said about the show, “I could see some moments of my life in the show because I also started from a small town and struggled my way to become an Indian actor. I also left a love story behind me when I came to Mumbai…
“So, I can relate to the show and I know a lot of aspiring actors/actresses will also relate to it.” For realism, the show has been shot entirely in Delhi and Bhopal
Catch the promo here:
- Premieres Monday, 3rd October 2016, at 10 PM (Mondays – Saturdays)
- Production House: Actor Prepares
- Producer: Anupam Kher
- Actors: Ashish Kadian (Arya Kashyap), Megha Chakroborty (Niyati Bajpayee), Deeksha Sonalkar (Shikha Roy), Gulfam Khan (Sarla Kashyap), Ali Raza Namdar (Rajkamal Kashyap), Mallika Nayak (Tara Bajpayee), Saurabh Agarwal (Mohan Bajpayee)
- Title song singer: Sanjeev Batra
Listen to the title song here:
Agar Tum Saath Ho
This is a love story destroyed by class differences and an over-protective father.
Delhi girl, Neema… from an affluent family and with a doting father. Meets simple middleclass body Ravi. They fall in love, and Neema marries Ravi against the wishes of her father… who still meddles in their lives! Misunderstandings arise. Will they cause the couple to part ways?
That’s the premise of Agar Tum Saath Ho, which dwells into Nisha’s after-marriage life and how she deals with her meddling father.
Watch the promo here:
- Premieres: Monday, 3rd October 2016, at 7.00 PM (Mondays to Saturdays)
- Production House: Films and Shots
- Producer: Gulshan Sachdeva
- Director: Deepak Sharma
- Screenplay: Vijay Kapoor
- Actors: Hitesh Bharadwaj (Ravi), Ritu Barmecha (Neema), Dolly Aluwalia (Darshi Bua), Kamal Tewari (Mr. Bharadwaj), Sabina Mehta (Mrs Bharadwaj – Neema’s Mother)
- Title track composer: Anand Bajpai
- Singer: Manisha Chakravarty, Romy
Listen to the title song here:
TV Ke Uss Paar
A tongue-in-cheek sitcom on the world of daily soaps and a reality check on how today’s society is obsessed with television, this show promises to be an interesting ride of a mother-son duo — Madhu and Vivek, where their reel- and real lives collide. His mother’s craze for daily soaps leads her into the reel world, and soon, Vivek follows her there, too! Both mother and son are torn between the two worlds, leading to hilarious circumstances and refreshing viewing.
Starring Marathi actress Amita Khopkar in the main role, TV Ke Uss Paar is a comedy that gives a reality check on the maniacally over-the-top daily soaps! The show promises a lot of tongue-in-cheek humour with its hopefully relatable content.
Watch the promo here:
- Premieres: Monday, 3rd October 2016, at 8.30 pm (Mondays to Saturdays)
- Production House: Sphereorigins
- Producer: Sunjoy Waddhwa
- Director: Manjula Chawada
- Writer: Rahul Pandey
- Screenplay Writer: Pawni Mehndiratta
- Actors: Amita Khopkar (Madhu) and Aakash Ahuja (Vivek)
- Title track composer: Saurabh Kalsi
- Singer: Samir and Anupriya
Listen to the title song here:
Turkish blockbuster show Fatmagul essays the journey of an innocent girl whose life takes a drastic change.
Innocent girl, Fatmagul is set to get married to her childhood love. But then, the fairy tale turns into a nightmare. She is raped! Her fiancé rejects her, and she is forced to marry… the accused. Will she love again?
Meandering along the ups and downs of faith, Fatmagul paints the lovely saga of an innocent girl, who finds love in someone who has apparently destroyed her life. Her story gives a glimpse into the life of a simple Turkish girl who transforms from an obedient and subdued person into an independent and courageous woman ready to take on the world and fight for her rights. This is one strong girl in a stark relationship who will command a watch and support from lovers of sensitive television drama.
Watch a promo here:
- Fatmagul — Mondays to Saturdays at 9 pm.
Little Lord is an endearing tale of a parent-child relationship seen through the lens of a six year old. This light-hearted Turkish drama which tells an endearing tale of a parent-child relationship through the lens of a six year old boy, Mehmet. He tries to solve big problems in his own way and tries to unite his ever fighting parents by re-emphasizing the importance of family.
Mehmet’s mischievous acts at school and at home in a bid to unite his ever fighting parents result in heart-melting moments that make you feel for him. With his adorable antics, Mehmet tries to tackle the negativity around him with a child’s mind. Through its light-hearted and warm treatment, the series re-emphasizes the importance of family.
Watch a promo of Little Lord here:
This ‘unintentionally’ hilarious series has the potential of becoming people’s favourite after-work show. Mehmet is played by a natural, born actor, and is sure to steal hearts. Zindagi should promote him a little more than the rest. After all, fan followings of a show are all about relating to characters and willing them to succeed, right? This young guy’s a magnet.
- Premieres: Monday, October 3 2016, to air at 7.30 pm, Mondays to Saturdays.
Teri Meri Jodi – The one that got pulled off
This is a show that should really have seen light of day on Zindagi. A co production with Geo TV, Teri Meri Jodi is the love story of an unusual couple, Jia and Kabir. 24-year-old Gujarati girl Jia Bandookwala… overweight, but oblivious of it! Kabir Chaudhary – Punjabi Munda! Absolutely drop-dead handsome! Happy couple, looking forward to a blissfully married life. But cultural differences bring about bittersweet moments!
This is the one that got yanked off Zindagi because of Pakistan’s malicious misdemeanour in Uri. Given the history of Indo-Pak relations over the years, it is ironic that the show that got canned is called Teri Meri Jodi.
Zindagi’s prime time schedule
A good lineup
That’s what it looks like, overall — a good lineup. Let’s look at the important aspects of the programming.
Good, finite concepts seem set to continue:
Going by some of the teasers and promos one has seen of the five shows upcoming on Zindagi, that focus on sensible, sensitively handled and credible stories seems to have been continued. The attempt is to differentiate its content on these lines. The dramas seem to carry the same thinking forward, while Little Lord provides another-world (read Turkish) look at the growing instances of divorce amongst couples with young children, in an interesting way that is both, entertaining and thought provoking at the same time, and handles a strong subject sensitively, showcasing points of view without, well, editorializing, except from the young son’s point of view. Then, there’s the very Indian-style show where wacky fantasy meets manic TV fan mother, with her ever startled and incredulous son bearing the brunt. Now this concept really breaks the… well, uniformity, not monotony, of realistic entertainment, with edgy Ma going TV Ke Uss Paar. This concept, remarkably, from the king of good but interminably stretched dramas, no less — Sunjoy Wadhwa. One hopes the Zindagi creative team will keep his business manager in firm check with this finite offering.
Quality of dubbing and voice casting
Zindagi seems to have consciously side stepped that trap by diligent casting of voice actors. The dubbing of foreign language shows in Hindi is real and natural sounding, unless, of course, you try to reconcile the voice with the face and setting. But the storylines should help there.
Having launched dubbed shows in India myself, for Sony Entertainment Television, like I Dream of Jeannie, Dennis The Menace and many more, one is aware of the problems with Indian dubbing artistes trying to stretch and fit to fill Hindi on an English dialogue track – it’s often artificial, and, in some cases, especially with cartoons, downright ludicrous. But Zindagi has done some really good voice casting for its dubbing. Would like to know who the dubbing directors are – most like proteges of greats like the late Leela Ghosh, or Pradeep Shukla, or the new High Priestess of dubbing in India, Mona Ghosh? Dont know, really, but the work is great.
So overall, the only thing that is important and will tell very soon, is: How intense will the drama be. I mean, how real. The storylines, screenplays. What will the dialogue be like, and how will the characterization and treatment be handled. Zindagi business head Suni Buch has promised the stories will mirror real life situations, dilemmas, emotional angst too, but will not – never – be judgmental. The motivations of different characters, and how they respond to the others and to what life throws at them, will be things that only the viewer will judge in her/his mind. Of course, there will be enough real drama to keep the viewer hooked, involved and thinking. That seems to be the promise.
There’s also this movies property in which Zindagi promises to feature ‘the most respected movies from India’ — stories, makers, and movies that have defined Indian cinema’. Sunday the 2nd of October features one of the greatest biopic movies ever made, a film that needs no introduction, Gandhi.
Here’s Zindagi’s promo of the great movie:
A network channels block has already taken Zindagi promos to viewers across 33 channels. The marketing for Zindagi’s new shows is designed to deliver both the core and surround across all traditional and digital mediums about Zindagi. Considering data says Zindagi audiences are upscale, and the channel is also targeting DTH in a big way. Apart from network brand Dish TV, it will focus on Tata SKY and Airtel.
Says Chief Business Officer Zeel Enterprises, Sunil Buch, “Zindagi’s campaign will use mediums like DTH, cinema and mobile, and will be initiated with a simple but thought provoking catchphrase ‘#ZindagiKehtiHai’ that is “designed to create conversation around our life, our Zindagi. #ZindagiKehtiHai will dip in the currency of the World happenings and reflect the sentiments of people as they voice their views on everything that affects their lives,” he says, adding, “Engaging campaigns that will empower audiences will also be visible across TV, Digital and OOH. The publicity campaign will build advocacy through unique experiences that evoke the brand proposition and mirror the viewer’ premium lifestyles.” One hasn’t seen too much of print, but that’s perhaps because it’s too expensive and, I guess, because a massive majority of all current audiences of a channel and network gets its information on new content offerings from watching the same channel and network.
Digital and Social will be high on the marketing plan, and will be driven by interactivity. While there is Periscope on Days 1 to 3, Facebook Live too could be used similarly, at a later stage.
The channel also plans to do audio releases of the excellent OSTs (Original Sound Tracks) from the title tracks of at least three of its new shows, which are definitely catchy and meaningfully written – and yes, that applies to the far out situational TV Ke Uss Paar too.
Before I sign off, now, let me share another quote from Buch. Read on, and I think you will agree that in the light of the exhaustive look we’ve had at at the new shows on Zindagi, what he says falls into place. “Zindagi,” Buch says, “was launched with the promise of bringing the best shows from across the world to Indian television… Our compelling content has always been, and will continue to be, our calling card. A thought leader in premium entertainment with a distinct character, Zindagi presents finite world stories with bold narratives which unveil universal emotions.
The Alpha Club numbers give us resounding encouragement that we are on the right path of providing premium entertainment. What sets the channel apart is its consistent commitment to show Finite, Real, Vibrant, and Premium world stories.”
Wait, there’s more interesting news. Buch promises Zindagi will continue to enhance its content lineup with hand-picked stories from India, Turkey, Spain, Italy, Latin America and Korea.”
Good riddance to the Nagins and makkhis. Welcome sense, sensibility and sensitivity. Catch it through newer shows on Zindagi, starting Monday, the 3rd of October. And before then, here’s a nice little promo on what to expect on Zindagi tomorrow. The promo employs a very simple conversational tone, making it subjective and relatable and far different from the usual hardcore barking marketing promotion, so a nice, conversational piece of sensitive content marketing. Much like Zindagi’s shows are different from most run of the mill GEC content.