Monday, 23 June 2014


India's premier television network, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited (ZEEL), is set to add yet another feather in its cap as its readies itself for the launch of a new TV channel - 'Zindagi'. The brand new channel will go on air from 8pm on 23rd June 2014. It endeavours to provide seamless entertainment that cuts across borders, with content sourced from beyond our geographical borders, and therefore, the tag-line of the channel, 'Jodey Dilon Ko' is very apt. This is in keeping with ZEEL's corporate philosophy of 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbukam - The World Is My Family'. It aims to bring to us television content from various countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Turkey, and many others. The channel kicks off with its first set of TV show offerings from our sister-nation, Pakistan.

On Saturday, 21st June 2014, ZEEL organised a meet for IndiBloggers to launch the new channel. This meet was unique, in that it was being held simultaneously in Mumbai and at Delhi. Also, we were told that we would have a chance to interact with a famous Pakistani Producer/Director/Story Writer over a teleconference line. The Mumbai meet was to be held at The Leela hotel. I was extremely excited on receiving the invite and seeing the agenda for the meet, because I've always had a soft corner for Pakistanis - at least the ordinary people like you and me. In my college days, I used to have a dozen Pakistani netpals, and we'd discuss a plethora of topics, largely music. Thanks to them, I was introduced to Atif Aslam, Fuzon, Ali Zafar and many others, long before they officially took the Indian market by storm. They'd also point out Indian songs that were directly lifted from Pakistani ones, and that was quite a revelation for me then (you'd be surprised at the blatant level of plagiarism that Indian music composers resorted to in the 90s, check them out on Youtube). We'd also discuss lifestyles, languages, food and films (only Indian, coz they didn't have bragging rights here then :p).

Armed with my passport to serve as a photo ID (my PAN card bore a picture of mine with a scalpful of hair, and I didn't want to take chances with security), I entered the hotel well in time to log in my entry. After a scrumptuous lunch spread, we were ushered into a conference hall with elaborate seating arrangements - round tables et al - well placed display hoardings offering a peek of soon-to-be-aired Pakistani TV shows, and cameras. The set-up was truly impressive. Adjacent to the main stage were two large screens, where we could see bloggers from Delhi. Very soon the program began. As always, the hosts, Anoop (Mumbai) and Nihal Lazarus (Delhi) started proceedings in lighter vein, indulging in friendly banter with each other. The tone of their interactions with each other remained the same throughout the meet, which kept the audience enthralled and in good spirits.

The program began with a fun interactive session between Mumbai and Delhi, with the hosts asking the audience questions and inviting them to debate. The questions asked were as follows:-

1) Which city has the best transport system?

2) Which city has the best street food?

3) Which city has the hottest men?

The purpose of holding this debate, as pointed out by Anoop later on, was to show how two cities within the same nation could have differences in opinions and could indulge in one-upmanship. It therefore follows that two different nations are therefore bound to have aggressive stands against each other. The only way to counter these differences and bond with each other was to have regular interactions, delve into each other's culture and thought processes, and to encourage exchange and acceptance of each other's ideas.

Later, the Pakistani guest, actor Imran Abbas Naqvi entered the room, along with Shailja Kejriwal, Creative Head and Priyanka Datta, Business Head of the Zindagi channel, made an entry. I must admit, when Imran entered to room with his glares on in an air-conditioned room, my initial perception about him was that of a wannabe. But later on, when the glasses came off and he began answering the audience's questions with intelligent choice of words, composure, wit and clarity, this opinion changed for the better. He came across as a well-groomed and smart individual. He also enthralled the crowd with his crooning skills. He shared his childhood experiences about his love for Indian music and films, and about how he and friends back home would try their best to catch signals of Indian channels. Goes to show that film, music and culture were what bound Indians and Pakistanis together, even after 67 years of partition. In response to an audience member's question on whether peace can exist between both countries while there were still an atmosphere of mutual mistrust, Imran rightly said that those who want to create trouble will create trouble anyway, but it is our job to keep trying to foster peace. He said that artistes - actors and singers - could and constantly do play the role of maintaining cordial ties between the two countries. He made a mention of that fact that it was not just Pakistani artistes who performed in India, unknown to many people, even Indian artistes like Naseeruddin Shah, Nandita Das and Kirron Kher have also been performing in Pakistan. By the time the meet had ended, he had visibly conquered a lot of hearts, especially female ones. he was last seen obliging female fans with pictures, selfies and autographs.

Pakistani businesswoman, president of Pakistan's Hum TV network, TV director and producer Sultana Siddiqui (aka Sultana Aapa) had also joined the talk via Video Call. She expressed hope that the channel would help promote exchange of ideas, showcasing of talent and even possible collaboration between artistes of the two nations in future projects.

I certainly agree that the channel is a step in the right direction with respect to bringing out in the open the thought processes and the life of our neighbours. It would go a long way in showing that irrespective of what plays out in the political sphere, at the ground level their people are not different from ours. They have similar lives, similar ambitions and aspirations, similar desires, similar moral values and virtues, similar tastes in some regards, and similar family structures. We were after all, once upon a time, the same country. The key is to accept each other's differences, and come to some common ground so as to promote co-operation and peaceful co-existence. For this, If I had to make a suggestion to the channel, I'd say that they should not just relay tv shows, but also news capsules and talk shows. If we get to see the best and worst of political stand-points in Pakistan, we will realise that for every fanatical anti-Indian jingoist like Zaid Hamid in Pakistan, there is also a pro-Indian intellectual like Hasan Nissar.

Yours truly at the meet. (in shiny skin-head)

The meet was definitely a roaring success, in that we were able to communicate not across cities, but also across nations. However, I need to convey certain observations about what transpired at the meet, both good as well as bad.

The pluses:-

a) The venue was really good. And the food was awesome.

b) The audio-visuals worked well throughout the meet. There were no glitches at all. For this the team needs a special mention of appreciation.

c) The hosts, especially Anoop, were really good, and kept the audience in splits.

d) Some of the questions asked to the guests were really sensible. Some people also shared very interesting anecdotes and personal experiences about Pakistani shows, music, and fashion.

Some low points:-

a) At certain points, the comments made were unnecessarily cocky and jingoistic. Some were outright nasty.

b) There was a chap who had an American accent. He probably had come down to India from somewhere, I wouldn't know. But as soon as he spoke, almost everyone burst out laughing and giggling. I wondered then that if we couldn't treat one of our own people with respect, how on earth do we intend to respect someone who's not Indian?

c) The hall apparently had an accessible WIFI connection. But the log-in and password were not conveyed to us properly.

d) I might be wrong here, but there seemed to be a faux-pas with respect to the distribution of prizes for the picture tweet contest, with the same person winning prizes for multiple entries.

e) At the end of the debates, one person got back to city-defending mode, even after the host had finished explaining the reason for having the debate. The point of the debate seemed to have been lost on him. Also, it was a shame to know that the Pakistani guests were watching all this happen.

Most fun moment (for the guys):-

This is for all the guys. I'm sure none of the guys were complaining, and simply sat back and enjoyed their inflated egos when the girls of both cities clamoured to state that their guys were hotter.

Overall, however, it was a Wonderful experience! Looking forward to the next meet!

Images courtesy :

Reminder : The ZINDAGI channel will hit the small screens from 23rd June 2014, at 8 pm IST.



  1. I too have this insane interest in Pakistan and Pakistanis... I wish I can visit the country sometime...

    As far as the channel is concerned, I did end up watching the shows and the romantic ones have me hooked already ;)

    The Meet sounds so much fun!!! Glad you enjoyed :)

    Ya!!! Giving respect is a huge problem for us Indians...

    1. Hey, where's your blog? Can't find it :o

      Yeah, some of their shows are really nice. Best part is that they don't drag on and on forever

  2. I get jealous of people who go to blogger meets. :(

    1. Red Handed going GREEN with envy? I like! :p

  3. CRD, lucky You!
    Glad to know that the food was good :-P

  4. hi Very well have covered entire event..nice post. I also attended Indiblogger meet in mumbai. Do read my post and blog. my link is

  5. i saw your post today!! hehe.. was great meeting you "finally"!:)

  6. Oooo! Awesome read. It is good you follow up indimeets. I have by far attended one. Had I had any blogger friends from Delhi i wouldnt have missed the chance!

    1. Arre you can attend and make friends na?


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