The soap-opera Qubool Hai has 864 episodes that ran on ZeeTV from 2012 to 2016 in batches of 4 twisty seasons. The narrative started with a quite easy premise: a love story between Zoya (Surbhi Jyoti) and Asad (Karan Singh Grover). Set in Bhopal, the present begins with the free-spirited Zoya who comes from America, in pursuit of her organic father. She takes refuge, dwelling underneath the home of her foster-sister’s aunt, the steel-spined Asad’s mom. Their worldviews conflict, the place what Zoya sees as pabandi, restrictions, Asad sees as tehzeeb, tradition, and their common banter — him calling her “Miss Farooqui” and her calling him “Mister Khan” — turns into a part of the world-building. 

Zee5, Zee TV’s affiliated streaming platform, has taken this tv present’s preliminary premise and made a handy guide a rough 10-part web-show,
Qubool Hai 2.0 (hereon, 2.0). Released on March 12, it has garnered over 1,000,000 views inside its first week on the platform. 

2.0 is just not a continuation of Qubool Hai, which started with the innocuous concept of straightforward love in a Muslim mileu that morphed into genocidal vamps, generational shifts, drugged intercourse, swapped brides, rebirth, and vampires until it fizzled out completely. Over the course of the 4 seasons Surbhi Jyoti has performed Zoya, each of Zoya’s twin-daughters, and a reincarnation of one in all Zoya’s twin-daughters. This sort of drama is clearly not conducive for streaming. 

An try at making a family-tree of Qubool Hai, how characters are associated to, not associated, or murdered by each other. Courtesy Kaavya Ramamoorthy

Instead, 2.0 merely builds a brand new world with the identical characters who’ve comparable trappings, tweaked to accommodate the altering instances. 

So What Changed?

In the tv sequence, Asad is a regressive, conservative man with a cloistered perspective on freedom. Zoya, seen principally in denims, freewheeling opinions prefer it’s no one enterprise, strikes bitter with him. In one of many episodes he dismisses her as, “ghair-zimmedar, azaad-khayal, aur badtameez”. He insists she not put on denims and tops, not exit at night time by herself, and never litter. 

It is solely the final of the three complaints that makes it to Qubool Hai 2.0. Here, Asad’s conservatism is morphed into extreme “OCD”, the place he requires issues (not folks) to be of their place —  predictable and clear. His sister Najma, who sat round the home in superb salwars within the tv present is now an moral hacker sitting round the home in hoodies, tapping away on the laptop computer.

Instead of tier-2 Bhopal, the size of web-show is now expanded to incorporate Belgrade and Delhi. Asad, who was a suit-boot-business particular person on the tv present is now a aggressive sharp-shooter who represents India. 

Qubool Hai 2.0: Why Did A Soapy Television Rom-Com Go The India-Pakistan Route?, Film Companion

Asad meets Zoya in 2.0 the identical approach he met her on the tv present —  Zoya is a run-away bride and in her marriage ceremony finery (vibrant crimson within the tv present, and snow white in 2.0, marking the shift of bridal colors over time) falls in entrance of Asad’s automobile, which he swerves violently. In each reveals, the automobile swirls as if inhabited by a Rohit Shetty spirit of rotating dervishes. Zoya and Asad blame one another for being an irresponsible driver and pedestrian, respectively — it’s the identical set of dialogues, repurposed for nostalgia. 

“Aapko gaadi chalane ki tameez nahin hai, toh gaadi kyun chalate hain aap?”

“Aapko sadak par chalne ki tameez nahin hai, toh ghar par kyun nahin rehti hai?”

“Aapko baat karne ko tameez nahin hai, toh baat kyun karte hain aap?”

Qubool Hai 2.0: Why Did A Soapy Television Rom-Com Go The India-Pakistan Route?, Film Companion

There is thus, a really clear intention to faucet into the 2012-2013 nostalgia for Qubool Hai, the place the enjoyment of watching it isn’t simply experiencing the story, however pondering again to that second of watching the present which aired on tv Monday-Friday with out fail — the present performed at 9:30 p.m. a prime-spot, with a rerun at 4:30 p.m., when most children bought again from college, and nothing thrilling was occurring on tv, in that vacuum between returning from college and playtime. It is that this time-spot, when folks of my era, then school-going, consumed this. When the coronavirus lockdown was introduced, ZeeTV determined to rerun Qubool Hai at 8 p.m., one other prime slot. 

It is to refresh this nostalgia that comparable situations and acquainted tropes play out. Zoya prefaces each grievance with “Allah miyan”, a trait that doesn’t get misplaced in translation from a tv to a web-show. In each Qubool Hai and 2.0, Zoya walks in on Asad bathing, solely to ogle at him like recent meat, the digital camera’s gaze on Grover’s abs. 

Qubool Hai 2.0: Why Did A Soapy Television Rom-Com Go The India-Pakistan Route?, Film Companion

However, 2.0 rapidly turns into one thing else — a spy story with an India-Pakistan angle, with Mandira Bedi because the silver-fox Chief of the Indian National Security who stares at maps with the identical dedication of Zoya’s thirsty gaze. The “banter” which was principally for framing the Zoya-Asad romance is used additional in 2.0 for India-Pakistan verbal jabs. The title “Qubool Hai” itself, whereas referring to the vow of marriage in the course of the nikah, is given one other operate in 2.0 — the pledge of allegiance to 1’s nation, as seen when Asad accepts a nationwide safety project, and with the forthright zeal notes, “Qubool Hai”. 

The ten episodes finish on a cliff-hanger, promising additional seasons, and additional methods of repurposing pre-streaming nostalgia for the post-streaming world. 

Why Was Qubool Hai So Coveted? 

From the start Qubool Hai was underneath the gaze of the hot-press. Karan Singh Grover was recent off the success of Star One’s Dill Mill Gaye, a medical drama that performed from 2007-2010, the place he performed Armaan Malik, a younger, charming medical intern who rises up the ranks. His sharp cheekbones, extensive eyes, and constructed physique clothed with tight shirts made the requisite impression. 

Qubool Hai 2.0: Why Did A Soapy Television Rom-Com Go The India-Pakistan Route?, Film Companion

Initially, the hypothesis was which present could be moved to accommodate Qubool Hai, a giant present by TV requirements given Karan Singh Grover’s recognition among the many soap-opera viewers. It was additionally Zee TV’s first Muslim social drama

Within a couple of months, Qubool Hai cozied up the TRP ranks, which was attributed to each “Karan Singh Grover’s charisma and also an honour killing track”, each appear to have cast a reference to the viewers — one social problem, and one sensual problem. Within a yr it was one of many prime reveals on tv. 

Then, in December 2013 Karan Singh Grover was dropped from the present as a result of his “unprofessional behaviour”. Hate mail for his substitute and petitions to carry him again had been roving the web. (An identical factor occurred in Dill Mill Gaye, the place Grover was informed to depart, however not like Qubool Hai, six months later he was introduced again as a result of standard sentiment.) 

 Qubool Hai is the adaab-irshaad style of Muslim illustration, the place the trials of being a Muslim in fashionable India, a state that’s clamping down on minorities, is hidden underneath the veneer of Urdu prose, as if the one distinction between a Hindu and Muslim family is an aesthetic one. It is the sort of illustration that doesn’t muddy itself in lived-in politics.  

The concept is that each few years, at the same time as some a part of the aspirational love aesthetic adjustments, different elements stay the identical. The gamble is in making an attempt to determine which is which.

Besides it had its personal points to cope with vis-a-vis censorship. Twice, the Broadcasting Content Complaints Council issued notices in opposition to Qubool Hai as a result of extreme violence in opposition to girls — as soon as when vamp combined acid within the mehendi, and one other time when a lady was being suffocated by her in-laws with a plastic bag, and forcibly making an attempt to take her thumb impression on some papers. 

Qubool Hai isn’t the primary tv present to get a recent lease of life on streaming. Zee TV’s Ishq Subhan Allah additionally bought a streaming spinoff in 2019 with Ishq Aaj Kal, which launched every of its 4 seasons over the course of the yr. It’s a brand new sort of mannequin that’s stripping tv content material of its twisty, inconsistent high quality, and draping it with sharper visuals, higher costumes, a musical monitor that’s indistinguishable from Hindi movie music, and a few on-screen kissing. The kiss in Qubool Hai 2.0 gave the impression to be a continuing query requested to the actors, as if it’s nonetheless a giant deal. 

Qubool Hai 2.0: Why Did A Soapy Television Rom-Com Go The India-Pakistan Route?, Film Companion
Never Kiss Your Best Friend (left) and Qubool Hai 2.0 (proper)

The title track of 2.0 doesn’t have that slow-drone feeling of cleaning soap opera title tracks. It’s snappier, and designed not a lot to introduce a present as to be downloaded from Mp3 websites. Never Kiss Your Best Friend that launched on Zee5 final yr is one such instance of doing this properly, the place regardless of the formulaic tendencies, there’s a sensual suggestion of intercourse with out exhibiting intercourse, there’s a extra city, much less theatrical high quality to the banter which remains to be an essential a part of world-setting. The concept is that each few years, at the same time as some a part of the aspirational love aesthetic adjustments, different elements stay the identical. The gamble is in making an attempt to determine which is which.

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