Remember the time when Indian dramas ruled the hearts and minds of every single Pakistani TV junkie?

I remember those times clearly. This was around 16 years ago and the trend continued for a good 5-8 years; i.e. 1997-2005.

This influence of Indian drama serials on our hearts and minds was immense. So much so that the dramas were talked about like they were stories from our own neighborhoods and we would take the names of their characters as if they were our own aunts or uncles.

Dinner parties were scheduled so that an episode of Tulsi (Kyunki saas bhi kabhi bahu thi) or Parvati (Kahaani ghar ghar ki) wouldn’t be missed. Unlike our dramas, these were aired five days a week and kept the audience spell bound all day long. And it was not just the women who were hooked; Pakistani men were just as addicted (if not more).

I don’t know if it’s true but I remember someone telling me once that the Indian politician was asked if Pakistan and India would go to war again and she replied that we don’t need to as we have already invaded their houses, minds and hearts through our media.

However, today the tides have turned. Today Pakistani dramas have stepped up to the challenge and delivered.

This wasn’t easy, as the public was really hooked on to Indian dramas. What helped initially was the ban on Indian TV channels in Pakistan. Although cable operators recorded Indian drama serials and played them on their own channels, an avenue had been opened up for our own serials.

This is not to say that Pakistani serials became popular due to pure chance; that is not so. Although the ban did open up an avenue, what really gave our industry a boost was the rapid increase in the quality of content and production values. On the other hand, Indian serials began to steadily decline in terms of quality and especially in terms of content.

Today, for the time being at least, our serials seem to be in a better position than their Indian counterparts. In fact, we are now exporting our dramas to our neighbors. Zee Network has recently launched a new entertainment channel called ‘Zindagi‘, which showcases Pakistani dramas to Indian viewers for the first time and in this export, Zindagi Gulzar Hai, was the first drama to break the ice with Indian viewers.

So it seems that the tides have turned; and this was only possible when our industry produced material that could stand up to the competition. I just hope we stay the same course and constantly endeavor to improve our quality. The future looks bright for Pakistani TV!