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Indian television dramas (also known as Indian series colloquially known as serials[1]) are dramatic television programs written, produced, and filmed in India, with characters played by Indian actors and episodes broadcast on Indian televisions.[2]

India's first television drama titled Hum Log (Hindi), aired from 1984 to 1985,[3] and concluded with 154 episodes. Ekta Kapoor's Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi (2000–08) became the first Indian television drama to cross 1000 episodes in the history of Indian Television, thus entering the Limca Book of Records, and completed its run with 1833 episodes.[4] Char Divas Sasuche (Marathi) (2001–13) was the first Indian series to cross 2,000 and 3,000 episodes, also entering in Limca Book of Records, which concluded with 3,200 episodes. The Telugu series Abhishekam (2008–22) was the first Indian series with 4,000 episodes and concluded on 1 February 2022.[5] The television drama Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai (2009–present) with 4450+ episodes is the longest-running Hindi TV show of India, and the longest-running soap opera, airing for 15 years as of 2024.

Indian series are made in almost all of the major languages in India, though many also contain a mix of the predominant language and English. Indian dramas are also broadcast in other parts of South Asia, the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, Central Asia, Western Europe, Southeastern Europe, the Middle East, North America, Latin America, North Africa, Southeast Africa, and francophone Africa.[6][7]


India's first television drama was Hum Log, which first aired in 1984–85[8] and concluded with 154 episodes. It was the longest running serial in the history of Indian television at the time when it ended. It had an audience of 60 million, with each episode was about 25 minutes long, and the series finale episode was about 55 minutes.[9] At the end of each 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". In 2002, StarPlus telecasted the period drama TV miniseries Asoka, based on the 2001 film of the same name, with a run of five episodes.[10][11].Seeta Aur Geeta is an Indian television drama series that aired on NDTV Imagine.[12] was adapted from the Bollywood film of the same name (1972), written by Salim–Javed.[13][14][15][16]

Biographies of famous people started being produced in the form of dramas 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, Rudramadevi based on the Indian history.

Crime dramas also started being produced and aired. C.I.D. (1998–2018) follows a team of detectives belonging to the Crime Investigation Department in Mumbai. C.I.D. is the longest-running crime TV series in India, having a run of 20 years. Adaalat (2010–16) 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.[17]

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

Daytime dramas, Noon Slots and Prime time Retelecast repeat serials on daytimes were highly popular during the 2000s to 2010s, with shows like Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki, Kasautii Zindagi Kay, Gharana, Kumkum – Ek Pyara Sa Bandhan, Kaahin Kissii Roz, Kahiin to Hoga, Woh Rehne Waali Mehlon Ki, Kkusum, Nadhaswaram, Waaris, Dishayen, Roja Kootam, Ganga Kii Dheej, Kolangal ,Metti Oli, Aanandham, Chithi ,Behenein,Saath Nibhaana Saathiya,Mann Kee Awaaz Pratigya, Kasak, Maryada: Lekin Kab Tak? and Banoo Main Teri Dulhann. Porus, a historical drama, based on the Indian king Porus, premiered on Sony Entertainment Television on 27 November 2017 and ended on 13 November 2018. It is currently the most expensive show in Indian history, with a budget of over 500 crores.

During the late 2010s, the popularity of daytime dramas gradually declined. Today, there are no daytime dramas on any mainstream channel.[18] Currently, the four major networks that air primetime television dramas with nationwide following are Colors TV, Star Plus, Sony Entertainment Television, Sun TV and Zee TV.[19] After mid 2000s, the themes of Indian TV series began to change.More women-centric shows were made, such as Choti maa ek anokha bandhan, Jeete Hain Jiske Liye, Sujata, Thodi Si Zameen Thoda Sa Aasmaan, Karishma – The Miracles Of Destiny, Main Banoongi Miss India,Kolangal, Kucchh Pal Saath Tumhara, Yathumagi Nindrai, Adhikaar ek kasam ek tapasya, Hello Pratibha, Maddam Sir, Corporate Sarpanch, Appnapan – Badalte Rishton Ka Bandhan, Anupamaa, Ladies Special, Dheere Dheere Se, Main Hoon Aparajita, Pushpa Impossible, Sevvanthi,Dhadkan Zindaggi Kii,Ethirneechal which gained popularity for their strong female protagonists.[citation needed]

Social impact

See also: Socio-economic issues in India

This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (April 2011)

TV dramas affect Indian society, with regard to national integration, identity, globalization,[20] women, ethics and social issues in rural areas.[citation needed] The first Indian television drama series, 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.[21]

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."[22][23]

International reception

Sri Lanka

Yeh Hai Mohabbatein and Kasautii Zindagii Kay was dubbed in Sinhala and reached a great response. Kindurangana, which was remake of the Hindi serial Kasamh Se, also had a positive response in Sri Lanka.


Khwaish, which aired on Sony Entertainment Television and ARY Digital, returned as a hit show in Dubai in 2007. In 2016, in response to audience interest, A-Plus TV dubbed the old popular romantic Hindi Colors TV serial Jeevan Sathi - Humsafar Zindagi Ke in Urdu.


Caminho das Índias India: A Love Story[24] was a popular Brazilian Soap Opera which has the Indian theme serial.[25]

Ivory Coast and Senegal

Vaidehi – Ek Aur Agni Pareeksha was particularly popular in the Ivory Coast and Senegal.[26] In 2010, the serial was dubbed in Arabic due to high request.


In mid 2000s Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, Kasautii Zindagi Kay, Des Mein Niklla Hoga Chand and other Indian dramas had influenced gained so much popularity & attracted to mass viewers in Nepal.[27] Hence more Nepali serials like Sindur,Maiti,Ghat pratighat were made based on viewership.[28]


Uttaran and Balika Vadhu did well in Indonesia and were dubbed in Indonesian and aired several times until they ended. Saath Nibhaana Saathiya also did well in Indonesia and was dubbed in Indonesian and aired under the title Gopi (after the main character) starting 15 September 2016 until 19 April 2017 and has been broadcast again in 2021-2022, the Indoneasean version of the serial reaching 600 episodes. Serials like Yeh Hai Mohabbatein, Ishq Mein Marjawan, Kumkum Bhagya (in Indonesian under the title Lonceng Cinta), Anupamaa, Imlie, Naagin, and Silsila Badalte Rishton Ka also performed with good TRP in Indonesia. Kuch Rang Pyar Ke Aise Bhi aired in Indonesia and [29]Woh Apna Sa was dubbed in Indonesian after the original Hindi version became popular.


Dishayen was dubbed in Russian and did well in Russia in 2005.


Indian dramas were popular in Pakistan and Indian entertainment channels are widely watched due to the mutual intelligibility between Urdu and Hindi.[30][31] The Supreme Court of Pakistan has banned the showing of Indian films and TV shows.[32] The British Broadcasting Corporation has reported that cable television operators in Pakistan often violate the ban and air Indian television serials due to the high popularity and demand for these in Pakistan, and Indian television shows make up nearly 60 percent of all foreign programs broadcast in Pakistan.[33]

In June 2006, Pakistani comedian Rauf Lala participated and won the comedy television show, The Great Indian Laughter Challenge, but the show could not be followed by fellow Pakistanis as the show was not allowed to be aired there.[34] An official had commented that "Bollywood and Indian TV drama have invaded our homes".[35]

The viewing of Indian TV dramas has become so popular that mainstream newspapers such as the Pakistan Tribune often feature articles about the shows.[36] Since satellite connections offer uninterrupted coverage of Indian shows, many people have bought these to watch the programs.[37]

Anti-Indian sentiment is reported in Pakistan and the two countries have fought 4 wars over a span of about 50 years. However, the effect of Indian TV shows and Bollywood have resulted in an increase in how "favorably an ordinary Pakistani views [India and] Indians." Certain Indian tourists in Pakistan have said that people are particularly friendly if one is from India.[38]

On October 27, 2018, The Supreme Court of Pakistan has reintroduced the ban on Indian content on local channels in the country. Channels like Filmazia and Urdu1 had shut down Indian content for a period of time.[39][40]


Indian soap operas became highly popular in Afghanistan during the 2000s against the backdrop of the existing popularity of Bollywood cinema. In 2006, a Reuters press article wrote of the airing of the series Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, dubbed into native Dari.[41]

Men, women, young and old anyone, it seems, with access to television is enthralled by the family drama.

According to a source, armed militants during the war in Afghanistan may have even stopped fighting to watch Indian dramas.[42]

The strong popularity of Indian dramas was challenged by conservative hardliners who saw it as a threat to the country's religious and national values. Under pressure from conservatives, the government of Hamid Karzai ordered broadcasters to stop airing dramas in April 2008. However, broadcasters refused to comply, stating that it is against the country's media law.[43]

The first homemade Afghan television drama serial was called Palwasha, produced by Aina Afghan Media and started airing on November 25, 2007. Although shot in Kabul and in Dari, the serial was directed by an Indian and other people working on the series were from India.[44] Additionally, the main character was played by an Indian actress, Sonal Udeshi.[45][46][47]

Other countries

As The Iron Handed Phantom – Mayavi, the series aired dubbed in Mandarin and Korean.[48][49].which also aired in Europe and Australia.[50] Colors tele-dramas Madhubala – Ek Ishq Ek Junoon, Balika Vadhu, Chakravartin Ashoka Samrat, Chandrakanta, Udaan, Naagin, Shakti,Ishq Mein Marjawan and Bepannah from Viacom18’s general entertainment channel Colors dubbed in Thai to viewers in Thailand and other key south Asian markets.[51]

See also



  1. ^ "Indian TV Serial or Korean Drama: What Does an Indian Viewer Prefer?". Sakshipost. 4 May 2023. Archived from the original on 24 January 2024.
  2. ^ Pak-Hind Ka Swag, Book 5 "Culture, Technology and fun", chapter 16 "soap opera, Serials and films"
  3. ^ "SOAP OPERAS CAST A SPELL OVER INDIA". The New York Times. 21 August 1985.
  4. ^ Saas Bahu and the End
  5. ^ Shekhar, G. C. (6 September 2018). "More Spellbinding Soap Gathas". Outlook. Retrieved 9 September 2019.
  6. ^ Geeta Pandey. "BBC - Culture - Indian soap operas : Family affairs". BBC Culture.
  7. ^ "India Marginalized in Myanmar". 20 July 2013.
  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 Television Soap Operas. Trentham Books. pp. 32–. ISBN 9781858563213. Retrieved 1 February 2014.
  10. ^ "Keep date with Asoka". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 26 February 2018.
  11. ^ " - Asoka". Archived from the original on 14 April 2003. Retrieved 6 July 2019.
  12. ^ Pereira, Priyanka (8 June 2009). "Lookalike". The Indian Express. Retrieved 2 July 2022.
  13. ^ "Seeta Aur Geeta to be back". Hindustan Times. 30 December 2008.
  14. ^ "Seeta Aur Geeta hit home - DELI - The Hindu". The Hindu. 29 May 2009.
  15. ^ "'Seeta Aur Geeta' a TV show". Daily News and Analysis.
  16. ^ "The two in one girl". The Telegraph.
  17. ^ "What makes this TV show such a hit with Indians?". Retrieved 6 August 2010.
  18. ^ "Star Dopahar to call it a day, all shows to end on September 30". Indian Express. Retrieved 19 September 2017.
  19. ^ Star, Zee, Color,Sun and Sony fight it out on weekends - Business Standard
  20. ^ Gokulsing, K. (2004). Soft-Soaping India: The World of Indian Televised Soap Operas. Trentham Books, UK. ISBN 1-85856-321-6. p. 105.
  21. ^ 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.
  22. ^ 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.
  23. ^ Munshi, Shoma (2010). Prime Time Soap Operas on Indian Television. Routledge, New Delhi. ISBN 978-0-415-55377-3. pp. 200.
  24. ^ "Meet Maya and Bahuan, the protagonists of Caminho Das Indias (India's Way), a Braziliantelevision show". 18 August 2006. Retrieved 19 July 2009.
  25. ^ "The Indian soap opera that's taken Brazil by storm". 18 August 2006. Retrieved 25 June 2009.
  26. ^ "Hindi star Pallavi Kulkarni has been mobbed by adoring African fans of her headstrong "Vaidehi" female lead in the cult Indian TV romance". 1 February 2010. Retrieved 1 February 2010.
  27. ^ "Indian serials drawing big crowds in Nepal". 17 January 2003.
  28. ^ "After 17 years, Pragya is making teleserial 'Sindoor' again". 1 August 2023.
  29. ^ "Sony TV's popular show 'Kuch Rang Pyar Ke Aise Bhi' set to air in Indonesia". 23 August 2016. Retrieved 23 July 2016.
  30. ^ Chander Mohan Jindal. "My Experiences of Lahore and Pakistan Railway". Archived from the original on 12 November 2012.
  31. ^ "Pakistani women love India's 'saas-bahu' sagas – The Express Tribune". 11 November 2010. Retrieved 13 January 2015.
  32. ^ "Indian TV Channels Banned in Pakistan". Pakistan Defence. Retrieved 13 January 2015.
  33. ^ "BBC NEWS - South Asia - Pakistan allows Indian TV shows". 18 August 2006. Retrieved 13 January 2015.
  34. ^ "BBC NEWS - South Asia - Pakistani comic's Indian joy". 27 June 2006. Retrieved 13 January 2015.
  35. ^ "BBC NEWS - Entertainment - Pakistan confirms Bollywood ban". 15 June 2005. Retrieved 13 January 2015.
  36. ^ "10 things I hate about Indian soaps". 15 January 2012. Retrieved 13 January 2015.
  37. ^ Rob Crilly in Islamabad (3 October 2010). "Pakistanis snap up Satellite dishes for Indian soaps". Retrieved 13 January 2015.
  38. ^ "Serial Lovers - Times of India". Archived from the original on 3 April 2013. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  39. ^ "Pakistan bans Indian TV channels". BBC News. 27 October 2018. Retrieved 28 October 2018.
  40. ^ Baloch, Shafi (27 October 2018). "SC reinstates ban on airing of Indian content on TV channels". DAWN.COM. Retrieved 28 October 2018.
  41. ^ "Indian soap opera mesmerises Afghanistan".
  42. ^ "India's influential soft power in Afghanistan: Giving edge over Pakistan".
  43. ^ "Indian soap operas stir outrage in Afghanistan". Reuters. 17 April 2008.
  44. ^ "Kabul TV airs first Afghan commercial serial made by Indians" (PDF). India Review. December 2007.
  45. ^ Sinha, Neha (19 November 2007). "Starting this week on Kabul TV: First Afghan serial, made by Indians". The Indian Express.
  46. ^ Padukone, Chaitanya (19 November 2013). "Tales from Kabul". DNA India.
  47. ^ Thompson, Teresa L. (18 April 2014). Encyclopedia of Health Communication. SAGE Publications. ISBN 9781483346410.
  48. ^ "Mayavi" wins Jury Special Award in South Korea for Seoul Drama Award for Excellence in Tv drama". Retrieved 3 October 2007.
  49. ^ "Mayavi Tamil 3 D serial to be dubbed in Mandarin and Korean". Retrieved 7 September 2007.
  50. ^ "GV Films Mayavi has attracted keen interest from some of the Asian, European and Australian Television channels to telecast Mayavi in their respective languages or with English sub-titles". Retrieved 7 September 2007.
  51. ^ "Viacom18 library dubbed in Thai to viewers in Thailand and other key south Asian markets". Retrieved 12 December 2018.
  52. ^ Apne Tv is also famous in for India Drama Serials