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
) and Balika Vadhu's original Anandi,
, 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
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
'Iss Pyaar Ko Kya Naam Doon', starring
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
(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.
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
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
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
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'.
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,
, 'Uttaran' and 'Chakravartin Ashoka Samrat' are quite popular there."