Indonesia, Turkey,Sri Lanka crazy about desi TV shows too!
You might think desi TV soaps and shows are sometimes too desi, but the rest of the world doesn’t agree – viewers in Indonesia, Vietnam, Turkey, many African countries and other non-Hindi speaking nations love them to bits. TV industry reps say that over the past few years, foreign channels in countries that have similar cultures and social settings have warmed to Indian content – they’re buying Indian shows and dubbing them for broadcast there. That also means that Indian TV stars like
Shaheer Sheikh (Arjun in
‘Mahabharat’) and Balika Vadhu’s original Anandi,
Avika Gor, are big stars in countries like Indonesia and Vietnam too.
Shaheer Sheikh in Indonesia
Shaheer’s portrayal of Arjun in ‘Mahabharat’ was appreciated so well in Indonesia that he lived there for about two years, doing reality shows and Indonesian soaps like ‘Cinta Di Langit Taj Mahal’ (Love In The Air Of Taj Mahal, poster on left), even rejecting many Indian shows to do so!
Shaheer, a big star in Indonesia, has done an Indonesian soap called ‘Love In The Air Of Taj Mahal’
Avika Gor in Vietnam Avika Gor, who became popular as Anandi, was invited in 2014 to Vietnam and given the Face Of The Year award there. It was reported that
‘Balika Vadhu’ had become the numero uno show there. Avika was the only Indian actress to be invited to that country.
Avika might have grown up and moved on to other things, but her stint as Anandi has left the Vietnamese enamoured by her
Barun Sobti and
Sanaya Irani in Turkey ‘Iss Pyaar Ko Kya Naam Doon’, starring
Barun Sobti and Sanaya Irani, was popular not only in India but also in Turkey. The show, dubbed in the Turkish language, was apparently Turkey’s first Indian drama series, according to reports – some sites said it helped quadruple the channel’s ratings!
Barun and Sanaya of Iss Pyaar Ko Kya Naam Doon’ are major stars in Turkey
High demand for Indian TV shows Current shows like ‘Balika Vadhu’, ‘Meri Awaaz Hi Pehchaan Hai’ and several old shows are being aired either in English or in other languages across the world. Indonesia is one such country – actors from shows like ‘Ek Veer Ki Ardaas – Veera’ and
‘Uttaran’ (both off air) have been invited for events in Indonesia, and sources say they make close to Rupees 25-30 lakh in a week for attending events and making appearances. TV producer Yash Patnaik, whose ‘Ek Veer Ki Ardaas – Veera’ is currently being aired in Indonesia, says, “This trend started with ‘Shanti’, which that was dubbed in Sinhalese.
Mandira Bedi is considered a huge star in Sri Lanka and Shaheer Sheikh is quite popular in Indonesia, courtesy ‘Mahabharat’. In Turkey, ‘Iss Pyaar Ko Kya Naam Doon’ became a huge hit after a big channel there picked up the show and dubbed it. The quality of Indian content has changed – they borrow the episodes and either dub or subtitle them. The cost of importing Indian shows is also not quite high. It varies from $100 to $300 per episode. If that country’s TV industry is not cash-rich (since dubbing requires an extra $500), they won’t dub it – they’ll run it with subtitles.”
What kind of shows work abroad?
Industry reps say mythologicals and historicals are slightly more popular than the others. Patnaik says, “Generally, relationship-based shows work. Romance is timeless. People abroad are also aware of the epics like Mahabharat and Ramayana. Comedy doesn’t work that well because the punch might be lost in translation.”
Industry experts say older versions of ‘Mahabharat’ and ‘Ramayana’ have been dubbed in many foreign languages. The Mahabharat that was recently aired in India became a huge hit in Indonesia. Siddharth Kumar Tewary, the show’s producer, says, “Mahabharat has already gone to Russia, Indonesia and Mauritius. One of my other shows, ‘Suryaputra Karn’, is currently syndicated to Indonesia, Myanmar and other countries. There is a greater emphasis on mythological shows and historical shows by broadcasters because people can still relate to them.”
Indian TV shows work wherever there’s a footprint of Indian culture But why are countries like Turkey, Indonesia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan airing Indian content? Patnaik explains, “Wherever you have a footprint of Indian culture, you see that Indian content gets accepted. The Indian diaspora also plays a big role in popularizing Indian content. They (viewers in those countries) find the Indian actors good-looking and the technical aspects much better (than their own shows). MIPCOM happens in Cannes in October – it’s the largest content market in the world. Broadcasters from all over the world come to MIPCOM.” He adds that Indian shows are increasingly being picked up at this broadcast mart.
TV producer Sudhir Sharma’s show ‘Na Bole Tum Na Maine Kuch Kaha’ has been aired in eight countries. One of his other shows, ‘Miley Jab Hum Tum’, has gone to 18-19 countries. He says, “In the last four-five years, the demand for Indian shows at MIPCOM has gone up. Currently, the channels market the shows there. If the job of selling the show lies with the producer, the chances of Indian content getting picked up will rise.Our shows are technologically better because they are all HD. Normally, if a show is about to end or has already gone off air, it is sold.”
In Sri Lanka, she’s still Shanti
Mandira Bedi was one of the first TV actors to gain international recognition – ‘Shanti’ was dubbed in Sinhalese and aired in Sri Lanka. In 2010, the actress had tweeted, “Have been to Sri Lanka more than 40 times over the last 10 years. The people are so hospitable and incredibly warm. They still call me Shanti… (On) my first visit here, thousands of people lined the streets to see me. I got more love here in the ‘Shanti’ days than I got at home…”
Indian TV actors bag shows abroad
Ravi Bhatia, who played Salim in ‘Jodha Akbar’, went to Indonesia when his show was being aired there. Thereafter, he also featured in the Indonesian finite series ‘Cinta Di Langit Taj Mahal’ (Love In The Air Of Taj Mahal) with Shaheer. Ravi is currently playing the role of a superhero in the Indonesian series ‘Roro Jonggrang’.
Ravi Bhatia in Indonesian series ‘Roro Jonggrang’.
Indian actors’ rising popularity abroad After Shaheer Sheikh gained popularity in Indonesia, there were others who followed suit. Ravi Bhatia featured in the Indonesian finite series ‘Cinta Di Langit Taj Mahal’ with Shaheer. While Shaheer has returned to do a daily soap here, Ravi is currently playing the role of a superhero in the Indonesian series ‘Roro Jonggrang’. Ravi tells us, “It’s been six months since I started working in Indonesia and now it has become my second home. It was ‘Mahabharat’ that opened the door for Indian daily soaps in Indonesia. After that, ‘Jodha Akbar’ became immensely popular. Nowadays,
‘Veera’, ‘Uttaran’ and ‘Chakravartin Ashoka Samrat’ are quite popular there.”
Actor Karan Kundra says, “My first show, ‘Kitani Mohabbat Hai’, has been the top show in 9-10 countries, including Caribbean ones and Egypt. ‘Yeh Kahaan Aa Gaye Hum’ is currently the top show in Pakistan and the UK. There was an Arab family that came down to Mumbai, found my address and sent me golden gadgets and perfumes. Once, while I was travelling abroad, there were some Africans who started speaking to me in their language. They thought I could understand because my show was being aired in a dubbed format in their country. I have fans from Kazakhstan, Russia and the UK. Even Roadies is aired in 55 countries!”