Shailja Kejriwal on relaunching Zindagi channel: Today, art needs to make a statement

Updated: Jul 23, 2020, 08:17 IST | Mohar Basu | Mumbai

Four years after Pakistani shows were pulled down from Indian television, Zindagi chief Shailja Kejriwal reveals how channel is being relaunched with original series.

Fawad Khan's Humsafar was part of its roster till 2016
Fawad Khan's Humsafar was part of its roster till 2016

Last year, it was heard that Saba Qamar, the leading lady of Irrfan's Hindi Medium (2016), was set to headline a ZEE5 show. The development was difficult to stomach since Indian cine bodies had announced a collective ban on Pakistani artistes post the 2016 Uri attacks. Nine months since, we seem to have found the answer as ZEE5 announced the relaunch of Zindagi channel, which used to curate Pakistani, Turkish and other Middle-Eastern dramas for the Indian audience. In 2016, it removed shows developed in the neighbouring country from its slate.

Shailja Kejriwal, Zee Entertainment
Shailja Kejriwal, Zee Entertainment

Shailja Kejriwal, chief creative officer — special projects, Zee Entertainment, reveals that the channel will also develop original content in its second outing. "The love for Zindagi shows has remained undeterred [in these years], and we believe that art is the biggest propagator of social change. It is a mix of these two factors that encouraged us to bring Zindagi on ZEE5. While we offered the best curated shows in phase one, this time around, the offering extends to producing original content." The decision may face flak given the strained equation between the two neighbouring countries. However, Kejriwal is optimistic. "In today's world, art needs to make a statement. Borders shouldn't exist beyond the politics of things and love must override the circulation of hate," she says.

Saba Qamar
Saba Qamar

Laying out her vision for the first year, she informs that 29 shows are on the anvil, including Shehr-e-Zaat, Mastana Mahi and Aunn Zaara. "We will announce our first original shortly." Quiz her if she is referring to the Qamar-fronted show, and she weighs her words, "Saba is doing a project for us. We had a wonderful time working together over Skype and Zoom calls. She is happy to do something for us after witnessing the massive success of Hindi Medium." Kejriwal notes that the channel had made Fawad Khan and Mahira Khan household names in India. "In its first round, it brought many new faces to this country and they became overnight sensations. We will do it this time, too. There's a certainty of Mahira, Fawad and Saba returning [to the screen]."

Mahira Khan (right) headline the channel’s new offerings;
Mahira Khan headline the channel's new offerings

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