Are Indian dramas changing Pakistani culture?

September 13, 2018

Eidul Azha was just around the corner when I visited my aunt at her apartment. While there I saw a group of children running and shouting “Gaye agai…gaye agai [the cow has arrived]”.

A little girl spoke excitedly to her maid about seeing the cow. But when she said, “Jaldi chalo, mujhe gaye mata se aashirwad lena hai [hurry up, I want to seek blessings from the cow],” I realised the great influence of Indian media on our society, beliefs and thoughts. Signs of change are subtle but everywhere.

Once while I was at my friend’s house I saw his child going up to the roof at 9pm. I asked the boy where he was going and he replied “I am going to worship the crescent moon”. I was shocked and when I asked why he would do that since he belongs to a Muslim family, he replied that he had seen it in his favourite Indian drama. He very proudly told me he had done this a couple of times already.

Sonia Gandhi once said in an interview that India has won the war against Pakistan since the Pakistani youth may not know the names of their great personalities but they surely know the names of Indian actors.

This change in our society is mainly due to the Indian media. The impact of Indian TV shows seems to be slowly nipping at the heels of Pakistan culture. Even the way we speak has changed.

Indian melodramas also have a great deal of influence on women. The mother-in-law and daughter-in-law showdowns that play out during prime time slots have changed our outlook on relationships too. Now, we believe living in a joint family system is bad for your health, wealth and sanity.

But what’s happening to our own dramas? Have they lost their charm in the face of flashy and overly dramatised Indian shows?

“I really miss the zeal of television in the 80s and 90s which addressed social issues. Roads would empty and there would be absolute silence from 8pm to 9pm when the dramas aired,” recalled my father.

Today, ratings matter but I still believe attitude matters more. And it’s our attitude that’s the problem – we don’t want to watch channels with shows on religious or cultural issues, instead we want drama and gossip.

It isn’t too late to shed the façade of Indian traditions and values and adopt our own. The impact of Indian dramas is strong but our culture and traditions are stronger.

The Pakistani drama industry isn’t cowed by its Indian competitors. Private channels have also done a great job of promoting Pakistani talent across the globe. But that isn’t enough. Now is the time to change people’s minds and put Pakistan first.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect an expression of opinion on the part of SAMAA Digital.