How do you explain “Ek Chutki Sindoor” to a Chinese housewife?
You don’t need to – She watches the Ekta Kapoor serials every afternoon! They are entirely dubbed in to Mandarin and aired on National Television in China!
It all started in 2005, when the rights to “Koshish: Ek Ashaa”(a Balaji Telefilms venture), were bought by a Chinese TV Network. Later, “Sindoor Tere Naam Ka” was also dubbed.
Indian Soap Operas are really a hit in China. It was at a Chinese Canteen, where I first experienced this. I was struggling with my chopsticks while the cook hurriedly changed the channel and fixed her eyes on to the TV. I turned my head to the TV and saw an Indian Serial running in Mandarin! I almost stood up in shock!
I had finished my bowl of noodles, but I continued watching the serial. This particular episode was about Karwachauth. I was wondering if the lady is really able to understand all that is going on. I kept checking the cook’s expressions.
After the serial ended, I asked her if she understood what the concept was. She was upset at such a primary question. “Of course!” she said. “The married lady is praying to the moon for her husband’s long life. She has not taken a drop of water all day and is waiting for her husband to come and feed her.”
During my stay in China, I came across a lot more housewives who were in to Indian TV Serials. Two of them were my friends’ mothers and one was a Taxi Driver. All these women had similar questions to ask me – “While you are in India, do you were sarees everyday?” , “Are your sarees as beautiful as those in the serials?”, “Do you have bangles?”, and “Why are you not wearing that red dot on your forehead?”.
My question to them always was – “Why do you enjoy watching the Indian Family Serials?”. And the standard response was – “Because Indians have big families.”
Chinese culture traditionally, is used to large families and looks like China is taking time getting used to an entire generation raised with the One-Child Policy.
They are, like us Indians, in many ways. They love their food, they love to show-off, their ‘Bua’s and ‘Maasi’s are not just ‘Aunt’s, they still believe in joint-families and arranged marriages. Also neighbours, however pesky, are still family.
All this, plus the sarees, jewellery and the Sindoor(!), seem to be the reason for the Indian Soap operas doing so well in China.
Check this link to see how a hindi serial sounds in Mandarin! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6GIay8Z2a_c