How a small network of people brings the outside world into Mizo TV sets

In the homogenous world of Mizo television, everyone from Prerna in Ekta Kapoor’s Kasautii Zindagii Kay to Elsa in Disney’s Frozen speaks fluent Mizo. But behind this vernacular crossover is a network of people: translators, dubbing artistes and editors. This is how they do it

In 2003, when Sente was a schoolgirl in Aizawl, her gang of friends would eagerly await the latest edition of Lengzem, a popular Mizo monthly magazine. The 60-paged publication had a mix of features and fiction but the girls would straight skip to “the only section that mattered” — it was the Mizo script of a full episode of Ekta Kapoor’s hit TV series Kasautii Zindagii Kay, back then a rage in Mizoram. “We would read aloud and take turns to deliver the dialogue. It was all everyone would talk about back then,” says Sente, now a 25-year-old mother of three.

Years later — in any conversation about the dubbed shows that thrive on Mizo TV — it is still what everyone talks about. In Kasautii lies the genesis of the dubbed television industry of Mizoram. 

What started as a trial for one show is now a small-scale industry. Over the last decade, Korean, Thai, English, Hindi, Turkish and Japanese movies and TV shows (all translated) dominate television viewership in Mizoram — apart from news, reality TV shows (the most popular being Mizo Idol and Youth Icon, fashioned onAmerican Idol) and of course, sports (football premiere league, basketball league etc).

“For the longest time, Mizos would watch Bangladeshi TV channels. There was absolutely no Mizo content. Only during Christmas — in the late 80s — some Mizos in Delhi would sing carols, and that would be aired on Doordarshan,” say Lalsawmliana Pachuau. 

In 1993, Pachuau started LPS — Mizoram’s first cable TV network, with 11 channels (which aired music, sports, news and movies). “We started by airing local Mizo content: news, gospel songs and the like. I wanted to do something for the people of Mizoram,” he says.


This article was originally published in The Indian Express in December 2019. Full article here.