By Francis Kokutse
When a woman recently landed up at the offices of Adom TV in Accra, Ghana, the staff were not quite expecting the gift she bore: a cow -- a small token of gratitude for airing, in the local language Twi, the Indian TV serial "Kumkum Bhagya".
The Zee TV soap, which tells the story of Sarla Arora, a Punjabi matriarch who runs a marriage hall and is ever seeking ways to get her two feisty daughters- Pragya and Bulbul- married well, has been something of a hit in this west African nation of 26 million.
Loosely based on Jane Austen's "Sense and Sensibility", the Ekta Kapoor produced "Kumkum Bhagya"- or Vermillion in My Destiny- has somehow struck a chord with Ghanaian audiences, said Abena Yiadom, Adom TV Channel Manager, adding that it is watched by "20 per cent of national audience".
"Most Ghanaians relate well to the storyline which is about arranged marriages," Yiadom told IANS of the serial that has been on air with Twi language voice-overs since November 2015.
"Currently, we air the show five days a week from 9 pm to 10 pm with a repeat the next morning; and we show an omnibus of all the stories that were shown during the week on Sundays for those who have missed them," Yiadom added.
Directed by Sameer Kulkarni and starring Sriti Jha, Shabbir Ahluwalia, Mrunal Thakur, Shikha Singh, Leena Jumani, Arjit Taneja and Vin Rana, the show first aired on Zee in April 2014. It is fast heading towards its 800th episode on the channel.
A measure of the serial's success here is the mushrooming of "Kumkum Bhagya Fan Clubs" all over the country where members converge to discuss the twists and turns of the plot in the show's latest episode.
"Kumkum Bhagya" is, however, not the only Indian serial aired on Adom TV.
"Ek Veer Ki Ardaas... Veera" -- or A Brother's Prayer... Veera -- a soap that aired on the Star Plus channel from October 2012 to August 2015, is also on show, though not as popular as "Kumkum Bhagya".
Directed by Waseem Sabir and starring Digangana Suryavanshi, Shivin Narang, Vishal Vashishtha and Farnaz Shetty, it is all about the ups and downs in the life Rannvijay (Ranvi) and his half-sister, Veera.
Adom TV uses its Facebook page to provide pithy synopses of the latest episodes of both the TV shows, making them more accessible to the viewers.
The teaser for Wednesday's episode of "Veera" helpfully explained: Gunjan eavesdrops on Balwant and Veera's conversation... Veera is surprised to find Karan and agrees to let him stay at Baldev's house. She later introduces him to Gunjan. Veera invites Karan for dinner after Rannvijay convinces Ratan and Chaiji for the same. He informs Ratan about Veera's monetary contribution. While Baldev takes Karan to a dhaba, Veera waits for him at home."
The teaser prompted viewer Jeff Chambers to comment: "I love Veera... Full of great lessons", while Maame Eduamoah, commenting on the day's teaser for "Kumkum Bhagya", said: "Pls ur update stil create suspense; mke it clear wat wil happen so that those who cant watch will at least get the understandn."
With the Indian High Commission here organising a "Festival of India in Ghana" from January 25 to March 15 to mark 60 years of diplomatic ties between the two countries, Indian culture will be in focus, and may well result in a spike in interest for Indian soaps.
"The 'Festival of India' is an important aspect of cultural diplomacy... and its main focus is to connect and enhance the perception of India in the minds of people and offer them a glimpse of the flavour and variety of Indian culture," High Commissioner Birender Singh Yadav told IANS.
The "Festival of India in Ghana" has been dubbed "Maitri", or "Friendship" and will showcase films and food as well.
(Francis Kokutse can be contacted at email@example.com)