For many Pakistanis, India already MFN


India may never have invaded Pakistan, but there’s no doubt that Bollywood and Hindi soap operas have virtually conquered the Pakistani market. In Karachi, for instance, it’s near impossible to find a Pakistani who doesn’t have strong views on the K-serials, or hasn’t picked a favourite Khan from amongst Shah Rukh, Aamir and Salman. While Imtiaz Ali’s Rockstar is playing across theatres in Karachi, giant hoardings of Indian reality TV shows like Bigg Boss tower over Pakistan’s financial capital. A couple of years ago, Ghajini haircuts were in vogue, too. And the likes of Balika Vadhu and Bade Achhe Lagte Hain have sent TRPs soaring across Pakistan. For many Pakistanis, India is already their Most Favoured Nation (MFN).
The editor of a widely read English daily in Pakistan calls himself a victim of Hindi serials. Every night, at precisely the busiest hour for any newspaper, his chief reporter would disappear. “I was furious and kept asking him where he had been. It took me a while to discover that he went home each day to watch Hindi serials. When I asked him why he didn’t watch the replay the next morning, he said he did that, too,” he laughed. Weddings are often postponed till late in the evening to avoid clashing with prime-time Hindi soap operas. “Pakistani women are so deeply influenced by the clothes and jewellery worn in Hindi soaps that they want the same for their own weddings,” said Gulbadan Javed, a social activist from Hyderabad, Sindh. Javed’s children and mother-in-law religiously watch Star Plus from 8:00 pm onwards each night. Rozina Jonejo, also from Hyderabad, said her mother-in-law enjoys watching Hindi serials although she does not understand the language. “She asks her daughter to translate the serial for her. She often asks us why the saas in a particular serial is scolding the bahu,” said Rozina.
It should come as little surprise, then, that Hindi words have crept into Pakistani vocabulary. Rozina is amused that her young son, an avid viewer of Hindi serials, has picked up words like ‘namaste’ and ‘maharani’.
Ikram Mughal from Karachi was surprised to hear his daughter say “Papa aap chinta mat keejiye”, with the word ‘chinta’ replacing ‘fikr’, the more common Urdu word for worry. Mughal himself is a staff reporter for Super Star Dust, a popular Urdu magazine on Bollywood. A picture of John Abraham is splashed across the cover of a recent issue.
Bollywood trivia is as popular in Pakistan as in India, with many keeping tabs on the lives and loves of the film stars. “Out here, Aamir Khan is known as the ‘chocolaty hero’, whereas Salman is known to have affairs with many women and then leave them,” said a young man.
While the average Indian may not know of Shah Rukh Khan (SRK)’s Pathan origins, a number of Pakistanis are mighty proud of it. Karachi resident Izzat Khan, an ardent SRK fan, recalled that during a job stint in Malaysia, he was often asked if he was related to King Khan, with whom he shares a surname. “I would tell them he is from my neighbourhood, as he comes from the same province,” said the proud Pathan.
But Shah Rukh is not the only hero worshipped in Pakistan. A bunch of young women in Karachi wanted me to “give Salman Khan a hug” on their behalf. Meanwhile, Maqsooda Solangi, a social activist with the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum, is a diehard member of the Aamir camp, for she likes his socially relevant brand of cinema. And while Madhuri Dixit may have a tough time re-entering Bollywood, for Izzat Khan, no actress in recent times can match the beauty and grace of the Dhak Dhak girl.
That Bollywood and soaps have shaped the popular Pakistani perception of India may have much to do with how favourably the ordinary Pakistani views Indians. Visitors to Pakistan are known to be overwhelmed by the warmth and hospitality shown by their hosts. Immigration officers get particularly chatty when they see an Indian passport. An official at the Karachi airport took one look at the surname on my passport and wanted to know if there was any connection with Rani Mukherji, whom he admires greatly.
The mehmaan nawaazi is visible on the streets of Karachi, where even posh, branded shops give big discounts to Indians. A chaat stall owner in Saddar insisted on providing free soft drinks to a bunch of young women when he learnt they were Indians. Like many Sindhis in India who yearn for their homeland, the chaat wala longed to visit his homeland in Gujarat, where his family lived before Partition.
DOSA MIX: India’s influence on Pakistani culture extends beyond cinema and soaps. Take the humble dosa, which has travelled a long way from its home in South India to the restaurants of Sindh, which serve the Chicken Cheese Dosa and Qeema Dosa.
While a Hindu name coupled with a Muslim surname would suggest mixed parentage in India, names such as Sharmila, Sapna and even Sudharak are very popular amongst Muslims in Pakistan.
Indian literature, including books on Madhubala and AR Rahman, line the walls of bookshops; at many clothes shops in Karachi, shopkeepers are heard bragging about material that has been imported from India.


  1. I feel sorry for pakistanis who are getting carried away in the sewege of bollywood and hindi serials
    I am from india and i hate bollywood and serials…

  2. I disagree with some of the things the writer has mentioned. While we do love Bollywood, as a general rule, the trend of watching Star Plus serials has largely vanished from mainstream Pakistani society. It’s only the ‘oddballs’ who still watch those serials. Pakistani soaps have a lot more substance in them and are consequently regaining popularity.

    The Bollywood films, of course, we continue to love and watch! 🙂

  3. They ( films/serialss) should be liked just for pure entertainment value. As long as it is not immitated in real life. Also, I would love to see Pakistani TV serials. Some of them are pretty good. Not only on screen entertainment…. I look forward to the day when I can visit Mohenjodaro, Harappa, Taxila, Lahore, Islamabad, Murree…. have Nehari, Siri Paye, Quatlama…buy some awesome Shalwar Kameezes…go to Multan and buy the famous blue pottery…endless list actually…. :)… just waiting for the governments to open the doors for tourists like us…

    • I am a fan of Lahore and Karachi style meat and biriani preparation. Think very highly of their culinary and artisan skills — am not a Pakistani though.

  4. i want to say one thing we never hate Pakistan and people. we just want love and peace but just because of some bureaucratic and government bad mind game just a common man suffers. now these days you can see lots of anti indian sentiments are emerging in Pakistan.. later we already seen how these government targets our country india…

    once pak government will stop raging hidden war against us. we will accept pak from our both hands.. we never want to be an enemy we are sign of love and peace..

  5. time for politicians in both countries to resolve all issues and start long lasting peace process between two great nations. After all we were one nation for last 2000 years or so – only in last 60-70 years we have been divided into two – and you all know that policies of Imperialists is always divide and rule … never forget that.
    If India and Pakistan learn to live in peace – then what will happen to arms and ammunition factories of developed world ? Point to think — is in't it ??

  6. if u guys remember that we had opened our doors for pakistanis way back when nazia hassan crooned 'aap jaida koi meri………' in qurbani and the song went on to becum a runaway hit and she became an household name in india. there was no animosity. till now the trend continues. wen ghulam ali performs in indian cities he is just an artist with a silk voice for us who mesmerises the crowd with his ghazals as a matter of fact abida parveen literally lives here for us they are above any nationality. . lets cum together and build a bridge after all we share a lot of common things wether most of u agree or not . Gud luck

  7. Indian dramas are way too good. Some jealous frustrated people do not accept this fact. And those serials are not meant for uneducated people, so much intelligence is required to make a serial like bv and dabh, ipkknd n ehmmbh n then sslk, they relieve your tensions unlike pak dramas which increase your depression.. It has become a trend now. First ppl watch indian soaps n then feel embarraced to accept this. Have you ever seen pak soaps.. Huh.. Actors don’t even know how to act. Dramas are better but not all.. And who wait for a weak to watch an episode.. And it’s so easy to make these short term dramas.. Indian dramas are full of suspense and entertainment no matter what n u get that entertainment daily that’s why ppl watch them n if they r unrealistic they are even more interesting.. They promote education, so howcome they are for uneducated ppl. N entertainment is entertainment.. It’s your choice what u watch. You can’t force others.

  8. its seems good to see that bollywood hindi movies conquer the pakistani minds
    but on the other hand hindi movies are not so famous in southern india.
    still in mahararashtra, marathi movies have. first priority over hindi. more marathi movies are created than hindi.
    sorry for pakistan, humane apna culture maintain. kiya hain .. aap nahi kar sake..

  9. Pakistan is obsessed with India . They love India, criticise India n they hate India. Anything related to India is everything for them be it hate, love n war…..after all their good/ bad emotions depends on India.

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