India fell in love with Arnav Singh Raizada and Khushi Kumari Gupta in 2011.
As the main characters in the Indian soap opera Iss Pyaar Ko Kya Naam Doon (What Do I Call This Love?), which screened on Star Plus daily from June 2011 until November 2012, Arnav and Khushi – known to fans as "Arshi" – stole millions of hearts and won many awards for favourite on-screen TV couple.
Barun Sobti, who played Arnav, gained recognition, too, picking up several best actor awards.
He visited Reel Cinemas at The Dubai Mall on Sunday to attend the launch of the Arabic-dubbed version of the series, which has been renamed Min Annazrah Thani and began its broadcast on MBC Bollywood that night.
The show was first broadcast in 2011 and 2012. Why do you think it is still relevant four years later?
There are a lot of similarities in Indian and Middle Eastern cultures. That is what will make the audience like what they are seeing. Also, I would like to believe that we did a good job with the show and that people will still like it in 2015 the way they did in 2011 and 2012.
What was your reaction when you were told the series was being dubbed in Arabic?
No one told me, actually – I had no idea. When I found out, it felt flattering, but also strange. I was actually looking forward to seeing the Arabic version of myself talking. It was strange, because, you know … the lips are saying something and what you get to hear is something else.
How did you feel about coming here for the screening of the first episode?
I was happy to come. It is a “warm” place – quite literally – and I always look forward to coming here. I usually tag along with my wife, who loves to shop.
Did you have the chance to meet fans on previous visits?
That didn’t happen because I haven’t come here since the show was aired. But since I got here yesterday, I have gotten a glimpse of the way things will be from now on. It is quite nice, but I must say it is going be a bit difficult to vacation discreetly here now.
Have you met any of your Arabic-speaking fans?
I think the majority of the fans that I met here through the MBC promotion are Arabic-speaking ones because they just smiled and they didn’t talk much, not even in English. So I assume they must be Arabic-speaking.
Do you think the Arabic-speaking audience will be able to relate to the love story of Arnav and Khushi?
Culturally, yes. The people of the Middle East, and the people of India might not wear the same clothes or speak the same language, but we share the same kind of values, and that applies in all areas of life including romance. There is definitely an upwards curve in the story, and the audience will start to like it more as the show progresses. Even when the show first aired in 2011, it wasn’t marketed very heavily but as time went on, people began to like it more and it became the huge success that it was. I have a feeling the same will happen with the Arabic version.
What other projects are you working on at the moment?
I have finished working on two films, which will hopefully come out next year. One is a real-time Indian-wedding scenario called Satra Ko Shaadi, and the other is a beautiful love story called Tu Hai Mera Sunday. I will start shooting for another film next month, and maybe a TV serial as well.
• Min Annazrah Thani is broadcast on MBC Bollywood from Sunday to Thursday at 9pm