Indian soap opera

Indian soap operas (or Indian serials in Indian English) 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 (Hindi), which concluded with 154 episodes. Char Divas Sasuche (Marathi) was the first Indian serial to cross both 2,000 and 3,000 episodes entering Limca Book of Records and it concluded with 3,200 episodes, aired from 2001-2013.[2]

The Telugu serial, Abhishekam is the longest running serial of Indian television with over 3,000 episodes, as of September 2019.[3] Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai is the longest running Hindi serial of Indian television with over 3,000 episodes, as of September 2019.[4][5]

The most common languages in which Indian serials are made in are Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Bengali, Tamil, Kannada, Odia, Telugu, Malayalam and Assamese, 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.[6][7]


India's first soap opera was Hum Log, which first aired in 1984[8] 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.[9] Every episode 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 like Chanakya, Dharti Ka Veer Yodha Prithviraj Chauhan, Veer Shivaji, Jhansi Ki Rani, Chittod Ki Rani Padmini Ka Johur, Bharat Ka Veer Putra – Maharana Pratap, Chakravartin Ashoka Samrat

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.[10]

The Indian mythological drama show, Devon Ke Dev...Mahadev, recorded the highest, 8.2 TVR in an episode.

Daytime soap opera were popular during the 2000s with shows like Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki, Kumkum – Ek Pyara Sa Bandhan, Kasautii Zindagi Kay, and Kahiin to Hoga. During the 2010s as more women began working they fell out of favor of the general public. Today there are no daytime soap operas on any mainstream channel.[11] Currently the three major networks that air primetime soap operas with national wide are Star India, Viacom 18, Zee Entertainment Enterprises and Sony Pictures Networks India.[12]

Porus, a historical period drama, based on the Indian king Porus, premiered on Sony TV on 27th November 2017, and ended on 13th November 2018. It is currently the most expensive show in Indian history, with a budget of over 500 crores.

Social impact

Soaps affect Indian society, with regard to national integration, identity, globalisation,[13] 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.[14]

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."[15][16]

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.[17][18] The Supreme Court of Pakistan has banned the showing of Indian films and soap operas.[19] 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.[20]

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.[21] An official has commented that "Bollywood [and Indian television soaps] have invaded our homes".[22]

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 Pakistan due to the influence of these soaps and Bollywood movies.[23]

The viewing of Indian soaps has become so popular that mainstream newspapers such as the Pakistan Tribune often have feature articles on the shows.[24] Since satellite connections offer uninterrupted coverage of Indian shows, many people have bought these to watch the programmes.[25]

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.[26]

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.[27]

On 27 October, 2018 The Supreme Court of Pakistan has reintroduced the ban on Indian content on local channels in the country. The channels like Filmazia, Urdu1 had shutdown Indian content for appropriate period of time.[28][29]

Although praised, many shows go around in an extended manner i.e the matters in the serials are stretched a lot and many rubbish and illogical content is shown, often made fun of on social media. As the storyline in the serials are not universal, and only for free-from-work elders, mang of them are receiving backlash in today's generation.

See also


  1. Pak-Hind Ka Swag, Book 5 "Culture, Technology and fun", chapter 16 "soap opera, Serials and films"
  2. "Char Divas Sasuche creates history".
  3. Shekhar, G. C. (6 September 2018). "More Spellbinding Soap Gathas". Outlook. Retrieved 9 September 2019.
  4. "Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai Completes 3000 episodes, Shivangi Joshi & Other Actors Celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi". ABP Live. 2 September 2019. Retrieved 9 September 2019.
  5. "Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai makes history by nearing 3000 episodes; Kartik aka Mohsin Khan is ecstatic". E Times. 9 September 2019. Retrieved 9 September 2019.
  6. Geeta Pandey. "BBC - Culture - Indian soap operas: Family affairs". BBC Culture.
  7. "India Marginalized in Myanmar".
  8. Kohli, Vanita (14 June 2006). The Indian Media Business. SAGE Publications. pp. 1–. ISBN 9780761934691. Retrieved 1 February 2014.
  9. Gokulsing, K. Moti (2004). Soft-soaping India: The World of Indian Televised Soap Operas. Trentham Books. pp. 32–. ISBN 9781858563213. Retrieved 1 February 2014.
  10. "What makes this TV show such a hit with Indians?". Retrieved 6 August 2010.
  11. "Star Dopahar to call it a day, all shows to end on September 30". Indian Express. Retrieved 19 September 2017.
  12. Star, Zee, Colors and Sony fight it out on weekends - Business Standard
  13. Gokulsing, K. (2004). Soft-Soaping India: The World of Indian Televised Soap Operas. Trentham Books, UK. ISBN 1-85856-321-6. p. 105.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. Munshi, Shoma (2010). Prime Time Soap Operas on Indian Television. Routledge, New Delhi. ISBN 978-0-415-55377-3. pp. 200.
  17. Archived 12 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  18. "Pakistani women love India's 'saas-bahu' sagas – The Express Tribune". Retrieved 13 January 2015.
  19. "Indian TV Channels Banned in Pakistan". Pakistan Defence. Retrieved 13 January 2015.
  20. "BBC NEWS - South Asia - Pakistan allows Indian TV shows". Retrieved 13 January 2015.
  21. "BBC NEWS - South Asia - Pakistani comic's Indian joy". Retrieved 13 January 2015.
  22. "BBC NEWS - Entertainment - Pakistan confirms Bollywood ban". Retrieved 13 January 2015.
  23. "For many Pakistanis, India already MFN". Retrieved 13 January 2015.
  24. "10 things I hate about Indian soaps". Retrieved 13 January 2015.
  25. Rob Crilly in Islamabad (3 October 2010). "Pakistanis snap up Satellite dishes for Indian soaps". Retrieved 13 January 2015.
  27. "Pakistan bans Indian TV channels". BBC News. 27 October 2018. Retrieved 28 October 2018.
  28. Baloch, Shafi (27 October 2018). "SC reinstates ban on airing of Indian content on TV channels". DAWN.COM. Retrieved 28 October 2018.
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