The liking for PTV drama in my family started in year 1970 when my grandparents decided to buy a TV. My mom’s home was the only one with a television in her hometown. She tells me this, often, that the women from the neighbors used to come to their home to watch 8pm drama on PTV. Therefore, I can tell how far the dramas of PTV were popular at that time also. Her fondness for PTV made me curious to watch what I have missed. I started with drama serial Alpha Bravo Charlie and I realized what masterpieces we have left in our past. I moved on watching Tanhaiyan, Dhoop Kinaray, Kiran Kahani, Andhera Ujala and the never ending list of popular and successful PTV dramas. Not only serious dramas, comedies like Fifty-Fifty, Family Front etc. were also highly appraisable. Not like the underrated third class language comedies we produce now-a- days, PTV comedies were for family fun time. Those were the dramas that brought families together. They were depicting the real culture of Pakistan. Those were the serials liked by not just Pakistani people but were the identity of Pakistan in the entire south Asian region. The explanation of the recognition of PTV dramas was their artistic script, robust story, and powerful direction and reality based characters. At that time, the purpose of our dramas was to represent Pakistani norms, culture and values. They were based on different novels, stories or issues related to society. The success of those dramas was also because they treated the story, by not using the tactics of family politics and vulgarity but with family bonding, decency and solution to eliminate the evil caused by any social issue. Obviously, we can say that the real heroes behind PTV dramas were the writers who were super talented and actors who brought life to the words written by their writers. Throughout 1990 there was only PTV as telecasting medium and PTV presented before us many classic dramas with thoughtful stories. The main theme of PTV dramas was to supply the family quality dramas with powerful story lines and production. Those were the dramas written by renowned writers such as Haseena Moen, Seema Ghazal, and Ashfak Ahmad that became the voice of the heart of viewers. During 2001 as cable television developed Indian dramas become most popular among the viewers. Along with international channels Pakistan Private channels also started to increase. And with the abundance of TV channels, the content and quality of entertainment started to fall. Most of our channels started to copy international contents and their story lines and even length. Pakistani producers and directors thought to apply their drama technique on our dramas. There were dramas like Ajeeb Apni Yeh Xindagi Hai, Teray pehlu main, Asghari Akbari and a lot more. Some lasted for a year or two and some are still on air. Such dramas lost interest with the passage of time. We burrowed every degree of absurd content from Indian Dramas also. From extra-marital affairs to illegitimate children, from pregnancies to abortions, we have been exposed to all kinds of absurdity in our dramas by following Indian content. Now-a- days this burrowing hides under the term “modern entertainment”.
The trend, in dramas, started from 2001 also manipulated the image of respectable family relationships into something disgusting. I have seen countless serials where a person 40 or 50 years old falls in love with his friend’s daughter 15 to 20 times younger than the guy. My eyes also witnessed the unimaginable affair of a girl with her brother-in- law in many dramas. To such extend our dramas has exploited the image of beautiful family bonding. Some examples of such ridiculous and weird stuff shown by our drama channels in the form of entertainment includes Mujhy Khuda Pay Yaqeen hai, Muhabbat Ab Nahi Hogi, mera saeen and many more.
Indian channels are now gone from our televisions but unfortunately, they left their traces behind in our dramas. In start this absurdity was to gain the audience back but now it has turned into a rating competition. This increasing-ratings game can be seen while switching channels. Starting from morning till the end of the day we find two things: morning shows with really pathetic wedding seasons after every single week and dramas with really miserable love stories and unbelievable family relationships. It seems to me like the whole Pakistan is just divided into two classes one enjoys the wedding every single day and other weeps after the wedding every single day. Dramas like Num, Doosri Bewi, Ahista Ahista and Qudussi sahib ki Bewa are just beyond my imagination. I never catch up with the story line and what they want to show in such dramas. And now this season Mann Mayal, Mor Mahal just seems like a brain storming game from producers for us to solve the mystery behind the making of such dramas. What is up with the producers I don’t understand? It feels that the producers are taking revenge from us for a crime we never committed. It is also important to add here that our dramas are not really fond of our culture or language because in every drama it is portrayed that the personas speaking English belongs to higher class while Urdu, Punjabi and other regional languages are a part of some third low class people.
We have left behind the days of Pakistani drama’s glory, a long time ago. And with the loss of glory we also lost our cultural identity. It wouldn’t be appropriate if I say that our dramas have evolved from impressive to depressive state, since 1990 up to this year. We surely have produced with the help of decent writers some good stuff also, recently. But that is just like a drop in the ocean. And we need more stuff like that on our televisions. For example, Xindagi Gulzar hai was one of the best. It was not a love story but a struggle of a woman with herself about getting stronger and successful in her life. It was about hope and trust on Allah for our wishes to come true. Udaari was also one of the good story lines which raised an important issue never discussed before. Daam and Shehr-e- Zaat, I have watched recently and they are also worth watching. These attempts have proved that we still have the power to gain the lost glory back. These are the signs that we can produce excellent content while staying within our cultural norms and values. And we can bring back the magic of our PTV dramas of 90s. It is now time to realize what we have lost and to start again before it’s too late to change the mindset of our young generation who is the victim of highly underrated dramas.