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Indian television drama (or Indian serials in Indian English) are television programs written, produced and filmed in India, with characters played by Indians and episodes broadcast on Indian television.[1]

India's first television drama was Hum Log (Hindi), which aired in 1984–85,[2] and concluded with 154 episodes. Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi (Hindi) (2000–2008) was the first Indian TV drama to cross 1,000 episodes and concluded with 1,833 episodes.[3][4] Char Divas Sasuche (Marathi) (2001–2013) was the first Indian serial to cross 2,000 and 3,000 episodes, also entering in Limca Book of Records, which concluded with 3,200 episodes.

The Telugu serial, Abhishekam (2008- 2022) is the first Indian serial with 4,000 episodes ended on 1st February 2022.[5] Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah (2008–present) is the longest running Hindi TV show of India. It has completed 14 years, It is also the longest running sitcom.[6]

Indian serials 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.[7][8]


India's first televsion drama was Hum Log, which first aired in 1984-85[9] and concluded with 154 episodes, was the longest running serial in the history of Indian television at the time when it ended. It had an audience of 60 million.[10] Every episode was about 25 minutes long, and the last episode was about 55 minutes. At the end of every 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."

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, 1980s.

Crime dramas also started being produced and aired. C.I.D., 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. Adaalat 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.[11]

The Indian mythological drama show, Devon Ke Dev...Mahadev, recorded the highest, 8.2 TVR in an episode. Daytime drama were popular during the 1990s and 2000s with shows like Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki, Kumkum – Ek Pyara Sa Bandhan, Kasautii Zindagi Kay, and Kahiin to Hoga,Kolangal (TV series), Woh Rehne Waali Mehlon Ki, Dishayen, Kkusum, Metti Oli,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 2010s, daytime drama gradually declined. Today, there are no daytime dramas on any mainstream channel.[12] Currently, the four major networks that air primetime televsioin dramas with nationwide following are Star Plus, Colors TV, Zee TV and Sony Entertainment Television.[13]

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, globalisation,[14] 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.[15]

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."[16][17]

International reception


Indian dramas were popular in Pakistan and Indian entertainment channels are widely watched, due to the mutual intelligibility between Urdu and Hindi.[18][19] The Supreme Court of Pakistan has banned the showing of Indian films and TV shows.[20] 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 programmes broadcast in Pakistan.[21]

In June 2006, Pakistani comedian Rauf Lala participated and won the comedy television show, The Great Indian Laughter Challenge but could not be followed by fellow Pakistanis as the show was not allowed to be aired.[22] An official has commented that "Bollywood and Indian TV drama have invaded our homes".[23]

The viewing of Indian TV dramas has become so popular that mainstream newspapers such as the Pakistan Tribune often have feature articles on the shows.[24] Since satellite connections offer uninterrupted coverage of Indian shows, many people have bought these to watch the programmes.[25]

Anti-Indian sentiment is reported in Pakistan and the two countries have fought four wars. However, the effect of Indian TV shows and Bollywood have resulted in an increase in how "favourably an ordinary Pakistani views [India and] Indians." Certain Indian tourists to Pakistan have said that people are particularly friendly if one is from India.[26]

On 27 October 2018 The Supreme Court of Pakistan has reintroduced the ban on Indian content on local channels in the country. The channels like Filmazia, Urdu1 had shut down Indian content for appropriate period of time.[27][28]

See also


  1. ^ Pak-Hind Ka Swag, Book 5 "Culture, Technology and fun", chapter 16 "soap opera, Serials and films"
  2. ^ "SOAP OPERAS CAST A SPELL OVER INDIA". 21 August 1985.
  3. ^ Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi comes to a tragic end after completing 1833 episodes
  4. ^ Saas Bahu and the End
  5. ^ Shekhar, G. C. (6 September 2018). "More Spellbinding Soap Gathas". Outlook. Retrieved 9 September 2019.
  6. ^ "Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah turns 13: How the cast changed over the years, in photos". 31 July 2021.
  7. ^ Geeta Pandey. "BBC - Culture - Indian soap operas : Family affairs". BBC Culture.
  8. ^ "India Marginalized in Myanmar".
  9. ^ Kohli, Vanita (14 June 2006). The Indian Media Business. SAGE Publications. pp. 1–. ISBN 9780761934691. Retrieved 1 February 2014.
  10. ^ Gokulsing, K. Moti (2004). Soft-soaping India: The World of Indian Television Soap Operas. Trentham Books. pp. 32–. ISBN 9781858563213. Retrieved 1 February 2014.
  11. ^ "What makes this TV show such a hit with Indians?". Retrieved 6 August 2010.
  12. ^ "Star Dopahar to call it a day, all shows to end on September 30". Indian Express. Retrieved 19 September 2017.
  13. ^ Star, Zee, Colors and Sony fight it out on weekends - Business Standard
  14. ^ Gokulsing, K. (2004). Soft-Soaping India: The World of Indian Televised Soap Operas. Trentham Books, UK. ISBN 1-85856-321-6. p. 105.
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ 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.
  17. ^ Munshi, Shoma (2010). Prime Time Soap Operas on Indian Television. Routledge, New Delhi. ISBN 978-0-415-55377-3. pp. 200.
  18. ^ [1] Archived 12 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ "Pakistani women love India's 'saas-bahu' sagas – The Express Tribune". Retrieved 13 January 2015.
  20. ^ "Indian TV Channels Banned in Pakistan". Pakistan Defence. Retrieved 13 January 2015.
  21. ^ "BBC NEWS - South Asia - Pakistan allows Indian TV shows". Retrieved 13 January 2015.
  22. ^ "BBC NEWS - South Asia - Pakistani comic's Indian joy". Retrieved 13 January 2015.
  23. ^ "BBC NEWS - Entertainment - Pakistan confirms Bollywood ban". Retrieved 13 January 2015.
  24. ^ "10 things I hate about Indian soaps". Retrieved 13 January 2015.
  25. ^ Rob Crilly in Islamabad (3 October 2010). "Pakistanis snap up Satellite dishes for Indian soaps". Retrieved 13 January 2015.
  26. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 3 April 2013. Retrieved 13 January 2022.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  27. ^ "Pakistan bans Indian TV channels". BBC News. 27 October 2018. Retrieved 28 October 2018.
  28. ^ Baloch, Shafi (27 October 2018). "SC reinstates ban on airing of Indian content on TV channels". DAWN.COM. Retrieved 28 October 2018.