Straight from the heart of a Pakistani drama-lover, I believe our Industry is an emblem of quality, novelty, and elegance. Producing beautifully intricate, block- buster dramas with timeless themes, Pakistani drama industry has reigned as one of the most promising drama industry of South Asia ever since its birth. Pakistani dramas have a unique charm that has spell-bound audience from all over the world owing to the passionately intellectual writers, producers, remarkable directors, and the dedication of super-talented actors. Pakistani drama serials have immense international viewership and have been translated into several languages. They even have been taught as examples in Art academies for being pitch-perfect to the core.
PTV is highly accredited for producing a number of ever-green master-pieces that made people cancel important functions, clear out roads, have pin-drop silence at home during 8-9 pm just to cherish remarkable dramas such as Khuda ki basti, Dhoop Kinary, Dhuan, Alpha Bravo Charlie, Ankahi, Tanhaiyan, 50–50, Sona Chandi, Aangan Tehra, Sunehray Din, Alif-Noon, Waris, Aghosh, and many more that have left the hearts and souls of audience mesmerized till date. That is why Shailja Kejriwal said, “
Pakistani dramas have a reputation for being slightly classier than the local fare." Recalling Dhoop Kinaray’s cynical and aloof Dr. Ahmer eventually falling for Dr. Zoya, a youthful, jolly girl enjoying life to fullest was a uniquely different romance from love-at- first-sight stories. From Tanhaiyan depicting the struggle of two sisters after their parents’ accidental demise, to the unbeatable comedy of Alif-noon portraying the grey side of society where corruption, scam, and fraud are widespread in the disguise of comedy, and the all time favourite Alpha Bravo Charlie, a story of three army brats who were fast friends and ultimately fell for the same girl – being entertaining, informative, and thought-provoking with a touch of hilarity, they still are recognized among the top notch Pakistani dramas ever produced.
Such was the grandeur and aura of Pakistani dramas back then, but what has gradually happened to our drama industry? It has lost the reverence that our elders recall. In the very end of 20 th century we fell from our glorious realm. The most frequent criticism being done on Pakistani dramas is about stereotypical plots, conservative expectations, ever-suffering, pitiful woman portrayal ,silly, unrealistic romantic-fantasies and above all a strong tinge of Indian culture. I admit that Pakistan has seen times where such dramas have appeared on screen that had dearth of artful and meaningful writing. From never-ending troubles of Yeh Zindagi Hai’s Jameela to theme-less Quddusi Sahab ki Bewah that seemed more like Bigg Boss contestants getting together. From Akbari Asghari, one of the most dragging drama ever that neither seemed a comedy nor a proper good romantic drama, to Mann Mayal that was a rating-ruined chewing gum. The illogical, unending saga of TRPs, onslaught of multimedia and plethora of channels, all have made our drama industry suffer a lot.
But, progressively our Drama industry is moving on from disappointing theme- less dramas and Turkish tide prevailing on Pakistani-channels, arising back to its lost glory. Many dedicated directors, producers, and writers such as Sarmad Khoosat, Mehreen Jabbar, Momina Duraid and many more are putting utmost efforts for the revival of Pakistani Drama Industry. Transcending from typical love stories, evil in- laws and extra marital affairs, dramas have shifted to portrayal of much more realistic stories representing empowered women, alluring romantics, and have become dauntless enough to represent crucial, social taboos such as: sexual assault, intersex childbirth, infertility, child molestation, khoon baha marriages, marital rape, feudal culture, tagged-life of models, and much more.
There are a number of dramas worth mentioning that have marked the revival of Pakistani Drama Industry. Humsafar, a journey of unspoken love in a forced marriage, with its simple story but superb execution, tremendous performance and a beautiful sound-track, is a breath of fresh air for audience. Daam is a remarkable drama that portrays themes of love, jealousy, and human emotions perfectly.. Dastaan encapsulates the heart-wrenching incident of partition through an immensely heart-warming love story. Main Abdul Qadir Hun is a beautiful journey of a boy who seeks to find himself, amid all the chaos in his life. Durre-e-Shahwar is another HUM TV classic story of a mother pacifying her daughter during her troubled marriage, narrating her own life story. Shehr-e-Zaat is a soul-stirring mystical journey of Falak who sculpts a sculpture of her dream man and falls in love with it. Zindagi Gulzaar Hai that won the hearts of viewers globally revolves around the middle-class girl Kashaf, who is very disappointed with her life, insecure of personal relationships but stands audaciously in face of odds. Azar ki Ayegi Barat (series) and Bulbulay need no introduction as they are all time favourite Pakistani comedy serials. Chup Raho is one of the first few dramas that dared to highlight sexual assault within family and silence for the sake of family’s honour, on our television screens! Udaari – the mega hit of the year addressing the uncomfortable issue of child molestation got much criticism but bragged a lot of praise as well for acknowledging such an issue. Khuda Mera Bhi Hai focuses on the intersex births that is more or less shunned by the majority of the Pakistani mindset. Besharam, starring Saba Qamar playing the role of a top model highlights the social stereotypes attached to models and actresses in our society. Sammi is another daring effort raising concerns against the outlawed tradition of Vani, still practiced in rural areas of Pakistan. Muqabil is another trending drama representing horrific consequences of child abuse. Illteja is an upcoming drama that talks about Down syndrome and the problems that come with raising a child suffering from it. There is a long list of many more.
So in the light of this worth-mentioning evolution, I really hope that Pakistani Drama Industry will soon recover and regain its lost magnificence. The need is to produce quality work, not only representing darker sides of society but also the colourful, bright side with fewer commercials and the same class that our elders cherish from past! – Mahnoor Tariq