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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

DD Urdu: Doordarshan's Urdu channel making its mark

Almost three years ago DD's Urdu channel was launched, however, few cable operators relayed it initially. But the channel has steadily improved in the last year or so. And now its quite visible across the country.

More importantly, the quality of programmes has gone up. Lately I have been watching the channel quite often and have developed a liking for it. Apart from some really good programmes, the channel doesn't have many advertisements and a section of viewers may find it comforting.

Also, the anchors don't scream. [DD Bharati and Parliament's channels also have less advertisements and there are several programmes on these channels that are really worth watching but these channels are also underrated.]

It also quenches the literary thirst. Today morning I tuned in and found a lady reciting the poetry of late Allama Seemab Akbarabadi's famous Nazm on Sri Krishna. Subsequently, there was a programme on Gopi Nath Aman Lakhnavi. It was presented by Farooq Argali, who is a well-known personality, and has deep understanding of literature.

The soap operas are a bit amateurish but I don't care much about them, as one can watch them on any channel ranging from Star Plus to Colors. However, DD's rich library and its records of old programmes including Mushairas gives the channel, an edge.

For years there was no Urdu channel though other important languages had dedicated channels. The reason was that Urdu is not limited to any particular region in the country. Until a decade ago, the cable operators often showed channels from Pakistan, particularly, PTV.

However, I never liked the channel because the anchors excessively use English words in Urdu. Besides, I had a serious grievance. It was about talaffuz. Just for an example: Every Urdu speaker wants Qaaf to be pronounced as Qaaf. But on Pakistani channels, Qaaf becomes Kaaf, which is irritating if you are watching an Urdu channel for the sake of watching and listening Urdu.

Then Ramoji Rao launched ETV Urdu from Hyderabad. The myth that Urdu channel can't be run in this era was shattered. The channel is now almost a decade old and has a substantial viewership in Uttar Pradesh and other parts of North India apart from AP, Karnataka and Maharashtra.

The long-standing demand of Urdu channel was met finally and DD Urdu was inaugurated. However, it wasn't seen anywhere in the first couple of years. It is visible in most cities now. Also, the programmes have improved and the reception is also better now.

Earlier, when I asked the cable operator to show DD Urdu. He would instead start showing another Islamic channel. Perhaps, he thought that Islamic channel and Urdu channel are no different things. [We do hear about BBC's upcoming Urdu channel and also Munsif group's similar project].

The best part about DD Urdu is that it not only airs programmes on literature, poetry and mushairas but also different forms of art, music, Bollywood movies, discussions, travel programmes and other facets of life without the irritating advertisement breaks. Its news capsules aren't as good yet but channel's steady growing popularity would also lead to improvement in quality of news.


kashif said...

i wonder if nazm on Krishna and programme on Gopin Nath Aman Lakhnwani was deliberate attempt to keep DD Urdu a "secular" channel?

Do you see a trend of these kinds of "secular" programmin on DDU more than other channels?

urdudaaN said...

When I visited India last month, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of DD Urdu.

I come from a predominantly Urdu learning & speaking town with Urdu medium schools, but cable TV operators strangely refuse to cater to the "miniscule" demand for Urdu channels like ETV.

Should we now be protesting against the apathy of even paid cable services!!

priyanka said...

Agreed. truly such channels ( like DD Urdu, DD bharti and some talks of Lok Sabha TV) work like oxygen for all those who are sick of the trash being served to audience on the hundreds of news as well as entertainment channels in the country. Electronic news business is all about tossing off opinionated sentenses in front of the interviewe and passing off judgements. amid such circumstances..such channels give us hope.

Shafiq said...

What would you say the difference between Hindi and Urdu is? I understand both and can speak a little too, but from what I can see, there isn't much difference.

urdudaaN said...


Though it may be politically incorrect, Urdu is conveniently being termed as Hindi. Otherwise, how would you justify all the films being indiscriminately being declared "Hindi"?
I was surprised to hear a Muslim colleague say that the Juma Khutba was in "Hindi". I see the loss of Urdu is a result of ignorance on part of Urdu speakers and the sinister Hindi campaign which is never ever discussed.
For many Muslim who have just come out of Urdu environs, bina-wajah is Hindi and bila-wajah is Urdu and hence depricated. Same goes for the mutated terms like "bawaal" instead of "wabaal" and jagaahoN instead of jaghoN.

Shafiq said...


It's interesting what you say. From my experience, Bollywood films are labelled Hindustani, which is meant to be a neutral Urdu/Hindi language.

I know that many Indian Muslims post-partition decided to integrate themselves better into Indian society - off came the headscarves, in came the sari and obviously Hindi. After doing some research, I found out that Hindi and Urdu are the same except Hindi uses more Sanskritised vocabulary and Urdu has more Arabic and Persian influence. The use of different scripts have also affected their pronunciation.

Most sub-continent Muslims not living in India know Urdu properly and then learn a bit of Hindi. As a native Gujarati, I can speak none of the languages properly.

indscribe said...

@ Kashif bhai: It is possible. But that's not every day on the channel that such thing happens.

Of corse, for the last 50-odd years, Muslims try extra hard to prove that Urdu is a language of Hindus also, which is ridiculous as they don't need to prove it.

Yes, Urdu has been labelled a Muslim language. However, it is true that often it happens unintentionally.

@ Urdudaan sahab: Cable operators will show a channel if we manage to get at least 3-4 householss asking them to telecast a particular channel. This is not too tough. They won't mind as it is free channel.

@ Priyanka Ji: So true.

@ Shafiq sahab: Interesting question. No two languages that are fully evolved are so close and yet different.

Adal said...

Indscribe has done a good job by appreciating the DD Urdu channel
and its contribution to our inclusive culture.
Instead of speaking about DDUrdu channel and its fares, our people have started talking about Urdu and Hindi.Baath ka bathangad karna inlogoan ku bahut bhaatha hai shaid!
Urdu has the unique distinction of being born in Mughal miitary camp,reared in market places and took residence in mahals and deewans!Urdu badi hi pyaari zaban hai.
"Kaise kaise, aise waise ho gayey!
Aise waise, kaise kaise hogayey!" gayey!"

urdudaaN said...

@Adnan Sahab:
The problem is that 85 percent of these viewers speak Urdu (are Muslims), are in thousands, but the cable operator is adamant due to his monopoly. So, they are happy watching songs, saas bahus and cheap comedy & reality shows.

Thanks for responding. Rather than spinning our own theories, lets read Early Urdu Literary Culture and History by "Shamsur Rahman Faruqi". Let the experts say rather than we guessing it.

Lucknowite said...

I remember, a few years ago bollywood movies used to display the title in Hindi, English and Urdu respectively however the one in Urdu is clipped away now, Dispite the fact that most of the script and songs are still in Urdu!
Though politically attached to a particular religion, Urdu is subconciously spoken by many people regardless of their religion. However the declining trend towards urdu literature is alarming. These channels are really keeping the hopes alive.
Yes Talaffuz has deteriorated and the worst part is that wrong pronunciation is being accepted. Many actors, singers are not able to pronounce few Urdu words correctly. A few Urdu words are frequently used on TV in a different sense than they actually mean. For example word 'Khilafat' is used to convey 'opposition' whereas its meaning is completely different, the cprrect should be 'Mukhalifat'.

indscribe said...

@ Adal Sb: I agree

@ Urdudaan Sb: If the cable-guy is so stubborn, he can be dumped. Now the Dish TV (and Sky TV etc) offer packages that cost in the same range as cable-wallas and even less.

@ Lucknowite Sb: Yes, many don't understand the difference. But to me Mukhalifat and Khilafat difference is an old story, people can't speak the basic language these days.

Even the difference between 'bolna' and 'kahna' is not understood. I don't expect any Hindi wala to speak perfect Urdu or vice versa.

The irony is that a large number of people speak 'main ne bola' rather than 'main ne kaha'. That's just an example.

Or 'aap jao' which should be either 'tum jao' or 'aap jaaiye'. Or 'samajh nahi aata' instead of 'samajh mein nahi aata'.

There are anonymous comments on this post mocking Urdu [kindly don't post anonyous comments], but my humble submission is that it is our right to speak whatever we want to speak and whether we deem that language as Hindi, Urdu or Bhojpuri, Bundeli, Chhattisgarhi...it is our choice.

The point is that words are getting lost. But at least whatever one speaks, there should be some effort to speak correct language.

English is spoken across the world and is susceptible to all sorts of influences.

But nowhere there is such deterioration of language, as seen in sub-continent.

Will any news anchor on any English TV channel ever say, 'I am saying news'. Then why is everybody so callous towards our own languages?

Lucknowite said...

Josh Malihabadi once asked someone, aaj kaun si tareekh hai? He replied, aaj unnees(19) tareekh hai. Hearing this Josh got angry and showed his dissent on new generation's lack of understanding correct language. He said it should be unneeswin(19th) tareekh rather than unnees tareekh.
Many of us tend to overlook these subtle nuances while speaking and that is how a language changes from classical to colloquial shape. But when such form of language is used from professional platforms like media or films, it is disappointing.
Urdu today is suffering from identity crisis. Though we know that it is widely used even today, but no one wants to own it. Non-muslims think it is the language of muslims whereas muslims themselves are running farther from it. I think the biggest harm to Urdu language has been done by associating it with a religion. However this notion is wrong as it would have been Arabic to be associated with muslims not Urdu. I don’t know where this perception came from? However in the past Urdu has produced many non-muslim scholars and poets. Chakbast, Naseem, Firaq, Sarshar, Mulla, Gopichand Narang, Prof. Ramlal and many more. Gulzar Dehlavi today is an icon of Urdu poetry. To promote a language there should be whole hearted efforts by its custodians else it will face the pressure, be it Urdu or Hindi. Courtesy ubiquitous spread of English, politicization and lack of focus by masses.

Sandeep Monga said...

Yes Urdu is one of the most beautiful languages,in fact all our languages r beautiful & about urdu someone said "APNE MEHBOOB KI KHATIR THA KHUDA KO MANZOOR VARNA QURAN BHI UTARTA BAZABAANE URDU",meaning that because GOD loved the prophet(PUBH) so much that he chose his mother tounge Arabic for Quran otherwise it would have been Urdu

Sandeep Monga said...

Sorry I meant PBUH(Peace be upon him),wrote PUBH instead,typo( typing error) u know.

indscribe said...

Sandeep Ji @ Wonderful couplet. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

In the early Muslim Sultanate days Persian was the court language.It was deemed a sweet language.The Mughals also adopted it.But during the reign of Shahjehan the empire extended far and wide. In many corners Mughal army camps were raised. In those camps Mughal
soldiers belonging to diverse regions and languages evolved a camp language. That was URDU.Soon it grew drawing from the treasures of Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Hindi and Sanskrit languages.Ere long it was the 'lingua franca' ofIndia.
Mushairas arranged periodically gave a fillip to it.During pre-partition days vested interests created the conflict between Urdu and Hindi.After partition many thought the future of Urdu in India is doomed. But it was not to be. Urdu continues to grow. Even in the distant south- Tamilnadu,now as never before, non-Muslims are learning Urdu and getting prizes!
Language needs the use of tongue.It does well when love for thelanguage
swells in the bottom of the heart and the brain moderates it.
"Bhool sakta hai bhala kone hamari Urdu!Naala ye khakiko arsh may pahunchati urdu!"

Anonymous said...

Urdu caused the division of the only country in the world of which it was the state language. Bengalis could not tolerate it and thats one of the many reasons why they broke off from pakistan.

kuffir said...

the problem with you northies is that you think the centre of the world lies somewhere between lucknow and delhi :). dakhni which first evolved in golconda in the 16th century was one of the first forms of urdu to gain the patronage of both the royals and plebeians... some focus on that aspect would also be helpful, i think.

great post as always, adnan. now i've to go check with my cablewallah about dd urdu- thanks for writing this informative post on it.

ahl-e-zabaan said...

Urdu isn't doomed: it is around us (even if sometimes we don't call it Urdu) and in spite of all the difficulties it survives...I long realized when my Hindi teacher kept cutting marks on my essays for using "urdu words", that the language that I grew up hearing at home (mother tongue?) and which came most naturally to me, was Urdu and not Hindi...I am a Hindu Kayastha. And talking about talaffuz...my 2 year old can now pronounce Ghain, Qaaf and Khe sounds perfectly!!

Anonymous said...

My grandfather and father spoke the language which we speak but they called it Urdu. After partition of India, for many years it was called Hindustani. But now everybody calls it Hindi. In Punjab no person spoke or wrote Hindi. Urdu was the language in all Hindu, Muslim and Sikhs home. But after independence the language was not treated properly.


Bobby said...

Alok Rai's latest book on Hindi nationalism;

Avoiding the cliched charge of adopting a deliberate ‘divide and rule’ policy against Gilchrist, Rai nevertheless points out how his attempts to restore the language to its imagined ‘pre-Mughal’ form ended up in turning out all the Arabic and Persian words in Hindustani and substituting Sanskrit ones.
Once initiated, this construction of a ‘pure’ Hindustani, like a predictable science-fiction monster, took a life of its own. Aided, abetted and fiercely nurtured by self-appointed guardians of the language from the savarna castes of Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, this process finally laid the foundations of the unintelligible, highly Sanskritised ‘Hindi’ that has mistakenly been foisted on the Indian people as their ‘national language’.

There was, intertwined within this emerging lingusitic battle, also the valid struggle to replace the Persian script– used by the old Mughal rulers and understood only by a minority of both Muslims and Hindus– by the more widely used Nagari (Devanagari) as the language of administration and courts in northern Indian provinces.

Over a period of time, however, it was this campaign to oust Persian and open up employment opportunities for those familiar with Nagari that coalesced with the resentment of the Hindu savarna castes against political and economic domination by the Awadh ‘Muslim’ elite.

The roots of the modern ‘Hindu-Muslim’ divide, cunningly exploited by colonial administrators and continued to this day by successive Indian governments were thus embedded in the controversy over language and indeed became part of common vocabulary itself.

Amidst all this depressing history of the decline of the composite culture and lifestyle that large parts of pre-British India was justly famous for, Rai points out, the one movement that could have still nipped the emerging menace of religious sectarianism in its bud was the 1857 War of Independence.

But the defeat of the rebels and the massacres of thousands of innocent civilians that the British carried out in reprisal, Rai says, only exacerbated the divide with both the post-1857 Hindu and Muslim elites competing with each other to prove their ‘loyalty’ to their now well-entrenched British ‘masters’.

Comparing these massacres to the Nazi Holocaust, Rai tellingly points out that the only difference between the two events was that in the case of 1857 the ‘Nazis won the war’ and the “surviving victims were condemned to living with the victorious victimisers: the ‘guilt’ of 1857 was visited solely on the victims, while the vengeful victors became also the party of virtue, of progress and modernity”.

One result of the terror unleashed by the vengeful British rulers was that members of the Hindu savarna castes, who formed the bulk of the early Hindi/Nagari agitations, sought to distinguish themselves from the Muslims who had been so ‘unforgivingly disloyal’ in 1857. When Raja Shiva Prasad, one of the early protagonists of Hindi/Nagari, petitioned the British government on behalf of Nagari in 1868 he sought to assure the rulers that the Hindu middle-class would be happy to accept the domination of the ‘fair-complexioned’. “Never will it be safe to leave any district without a fair-complexioned head. It is not the excess but rather the dearth of the fair-complexioned that we have to complain of”.

Rai’s account of the debates in the immediate period after Indian Independence over making Hindi the national language, the anti-Hindi agitation in non-Hindi speaking states and the proliferation of ‘Hindiwallahs’ out to preserve the ‘purity’ of ‘Hindi’ will be familiar to most readers.

Very importantly he concludes that in the Hindi heartland, using this principle, means using all the variants of Hindi such as Bhojpuri, Awadhi, Maithili etc., and not the same old Sanskritised ‘Hindi’ of the upper-caste, urban elites.

Hyderabadi said...

میرا شہر لوگاں سے معمور کر ‫!: اردو کا ابتدائی زمانہ - ادبی تہذیب و تاریخ کے پہلو

Anonymous said...

Khali naam ka urdu channel hai. Ramazan me bhari sehri ke waqt DD Urdu channel pe koi ramazan ka programme nahi aata. Aaj do sehri ke waqt Sudha Chandra naach rahi thi.

Anonymous said...

DD Urdu has spent around Rupees 300 Corer for old movies in last few Years but they have not spent a single penny on new programs till now. Proposals for commissioning were asked from producers for DD Urdu in 2009 and again in 2011.

In July 2012 DD through their website declared that total of 1046 proposals were received for commissioning of Urdu programmes. A total of 579 proposals were shortlisted by the three Committees under the chairmanships of M. K. Kaw, Prof. Shahid Mehndi, and former DG Shiv Sharma.

DD Website also mentioned their inability to commission all the proposals simultaneously due to lack of capable staff, lack of funds and other petty reasons and therefore, would do so in Phases.

However, Doordarshan has already done similar kind of commissioning for DD Kashir and DD NE, therefore, has the capability of commissioning in one go.

DD Urdu has not asked for funds from Government, assuming that they will not get it, though, DD Urdu is the only channel in chaste Urdu language having the largest number of viewership and hence, for Government to release 250 Corer for DD Urdu is not a big deal.

The results are finally out only after producers mounted pressure on DD and Central Government to do so. Out of 579 shortlisted only 163 producers got approval from DD Urdu.

Rest of the results are not declared keeping remaining producers in dark.

To the surprise of producers different versions are coming out from DD and Prasar Bharti, some saying results would be declared in phases and others denying of any further procedure. This is creating confusion among producers who are thinking of going to Court with a pray to stay till all 579 proposals get approval. Producers want DD Urdu to declare 579 shortlisted proposals with their percentage as soon as possible.

In the 163 approved list, Ironically:-
10% people are not producers and are only somehow connected to this field.
10% are kith and kins of High DD Officials.
The other 50% of approved producers are close to high DD Officials and are often seen inside or outside the offices of these officials.
Even few first timers have got two projects.

Rashtra Sahara, (Urdu Newspaper) have named at least 20 Producers who are not entitled to get approval, however, they are in the approved list.

Though, Favouritism is a common practice in DD and the misfortunate genuine Producers have got used to it, we still hope against hope that DD approves the rest of the shortlisted proposal immediately.

With Regards