Of cows n ducks n goats n sheep ~ Women and Pakistani dramas today

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Duniya mein kahin bhi, chahey woh film industry ho ya drama industry, aurat jo hai woh hero nahin hoti… lekin Pakistan mein aisa hua hai… infact, male dominated drama ab aurton ka ho gaya hai…
                                                                                                                    Mahira Khan on The Lighter Side of Life

When I hear names like Umera Ahmed, Faiza Iftikhar, Amna Mufti, Samira Fazal, Zanjabeel Asim, Noor-ul Huda Shah, Mehreen Jabbar, Marina Khan, Sania Saeed, Nadia Jamil, Nimra Buccha, Mahira Khan, Sanam Saeed, Sanam Baloch, Aamina Sheikh, or Hina Bayat, associated with a project, it means that I give that particular project at least a couple of serious dekhos. Whether I continue watching after the first two or three episodes is a whole different deal, but such is their pull that no matter how their last few projects might have shaped up, I take them seriously enough to make time to watch their stuff – this is the kind of respect, affection and following they command.  

Its not just women wielding influence behind the scenes, onscreen too we have a preponderance of women – whether we like them or not but an overwhelming majority of our serials today are female oriented.

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 From titles to publicity posters to a plethora of female characters to the reality that women have almost double the lines of their male counterparts, the Pakistani aurat is the raison d’être of 98% of our dramas.  Add to this the undeniable fact that women are the biggest consumers of Pakistani drama, it would seem that Mahira is spot on with her observation… male dominated drama ab aurtaun ka ho gaya hai.  Pardey key peeche hon ya pardey pey ya phir pardey ke aagey….  hamari auraton ne maidan maar liya hai – we are ruling the roost. Wah! Who would’ve thunk it! Its all about women power! Yaaay!!!

After the cheering and chest thumping is done with, however, if we take a closer look there emerges a very different scenario. Though women are very much empowered behind the scenes, the images we see on our screens completely belie that reality. Ostensibly concerned with the aurat, the vast majority of our dramas have very little to do with addressing a woman’s concerns, highlighting her struggles, or offering real world, pragmatic and practical solutions. Rather than challenging the status quo, what we get instead is a reification of gender roles, reiteration of problematic  stereotypes, and an ongoing affirmation of a woman’s non-status. Our heroine exists solely as a daughter, a sister, a wife or a mother – this woman has no identity independent of the men in her life. And, if ever she does manage to step out of the shadow of patriarchy then of course there is the omnipotent duniya aur duniya waley.

I am not contesting the fact that we live in a very conservative male dominated society, nor am I glossing over the harsh reality that the average Pakistani woman is engaged in a constant struggle against injustice and inequality. My problem lies with the fact that even as our dramas proudly claim to mirror reality, they in fact do not do so.  In sharp contrast to what we see – 24/7 gossiping, OTT made up women, extra-marital affairs, conniving saas-es and bechari bahus, shareef mashriqi ghareeb aurat vs the buri maghribi ameer aurat, siblings out to ruin each other, crying and never ending tears, love affairs galore – to give them credit our women are nowhere near as bubble-brained as depicted on TV. 

Unlike the bovines of the TV world who wish to be ducks, we the real women barely, if ever, have the time to think about such nonsense. Don’t we have our hands full with academic tensions, job-related issues, workplace hassles, economic stresses, juggling family life with a professional life, familial concerns? Not that we see them depicted in our drama serials, but instead of sighing over morning stars and waiting for the proverbial knights in shining armor our women have gone ahead and forged their own paths.

Rather than looking to cows, sheep, goats, ducks and other animals of that ilk, why can’t our drama heroines draw inspiration from the very much human, not to mention homegrown real life role models like Samina Baig, Sana Mir, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, Mehreen Jabbar, Malala Yousufzai, Bilquis Edhi, Parveen Saeed, Mukhtaran Mai, to name just a few. Why can’t we have female characters who instigate change, act rather than merely reacting to changing circumstances? Where are the Dr. Zoyas and Shehnazs of today? Why has the Pakistan heroine lost agency?

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The disenfranchised Pakistani heroine and who is responsible for her losing agency is a big question. Trying to get an answer is like opening up Pandora’s box. If you ask the writers they say there is no shortage of themes or innovative story lines on their part, but the blame lies with the producers who dictate themes. There are certain formulas that are deemed successful so writers are being pushed to recycle tired old plot lines. According to them producers follow a very simple equation: more tears=higher ratings. Ratings, or TRPS, in turn are closely related to ad revenues, which is where the money, as in the real heart of the matter, lies.

Producers and channel heads, on the other hand, are quick to point out that they are merely responding to their audiences’ demands. Off beat shows like Ullu Baraaye Farokht Nahin, Rehaai, Talkhiyan, Sannata, Aunn Zara, Aseer Zadi, Coke Kahani, are not the ones that end up at the top of the charts, rather it is the same old ghisi piti stories – shohar biwi, shaadi talaaqishq muhabbat pyar, zaalim samaaj, mazloom maa with her requisite 3/4 daughters – that climb all the way to the top of the TRP charts. While channel heads present us with what seems to be irrefutable proof, what should not be overlooked is that this current system of calculating TRPs been variously criticized and is most definitely not the final word on what we as a people want to watch. 

Call me a simpleton if you will, but it sure does seem like the underlying purpose of our media – to raise awareness, educate, provide hope, and entertain as well – has been lost somewhere along the line in this mad race for TRPs. Nowhere else is this sad fact more apparent than in the 90% of our dramas today. Gone is the adab adaab, shaistagi and tehzeeb and gone are the days of relatable heroines and believable story lines. Where are the stories of inspirational women? I grew up loving Dr. Zoya… who is my daughter gonna want to emulate? Why are we compelling her to look westward … doesn’t she deserve a  homegrown role model? Who are these cows n ducks n sheep n goats masquerading as representatives of the Pakistani woman? Where are the stories of women like you and me and those around us? 

While I am unabashedly proud that our drama industry has grown by leaps and bounds, I do think time has come for our media to pause, self-evaluate, determine future direction and mark out long term goals. Our natural next step is looking beyond national boundaries and entering the global market. Thanks to YouTube and DVDs our dramas are already functioning as our ambassadors to the world, offering a window into our rich culture and vibrant society. If we want this trend to grow and prosper then a paradigm shift has to take place. The tears=ratings formula needs to be reworked. New stories and strong positive characters need to be written, and it goes without saying that the mazloom aurat needs to be buried away in some dark, dusty corner.

The day I see a Malala, a Mukhtaran Mai, a Sharmeen, a Sana, a Samina, a Mehreen, a Parveen, standing in as a Pakistani drama heroine is the day I will wholeheartedly cheer alongside Mahira: Yaay! [Pakistani]  drama ab aurton ka ho gaya hai!

Written by SZ~

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79 replies

  1. My respect for you has increased enormously ! SZ I agree each and every word you said. The irony is that the actors , directors, producers might agree with you , but still give you reasons for the Cattle Hurd formula that most of our viewers are lower middle and middle class who want a fairy tale on screen or they want to see the evil vs good , poor vs rich etc etc. I would buy there argument but at the same time request them that do show that kind of stuff but also think of our new generation equipped with all the gadgets and phones who turn to Western dramas , shows for entertainment as they can’t find anything interesting on our TV, or some youngster who needs role model , some inspiration that they can also do something big or be something . There is room for every one in this entertainment world. I can’t think of saying anything as I wanted to be a BUSINESS women after seeing Shahnaz Shiek as Zara …I loved the idea of the young entrepreneur in that serial … I also want to see women of substance, the real women , wether it’s the house maid who go around doing 5 housed a day daily for jhadoo poocha or a teacher in a. Govt school , or a company director batteling with males around him.

    • So aptly written SZ…. All these so called women centric dramas are shamelessly and I think knowingly propagating and perpetuating patriarchal values…. Thanks for raising your voice ……. P.S. Do watch “Pehchan” the upcoming serial that Bee Gul has written and I have directed …. I hope with fingers crossed that you will feel differently about this one !!!

      • @Khalid Ahmed: Khalid Sb, thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment – much appreciated! Thanks for the heads up about Pehchan – looking forward to it. Wishing you and Bee Gul and the team all the very best with this one … intezar shuru 🙂

  2. “Dil ko dil say rah hoti hai”
    “Dil say niklay aur dil main utray” (Tagline of Sir sayed’s movement)
    main ne bohat bar ye dono lines apni life main suni thin lekin honestly in per mera belief nahi tha lekin aj ye article dekhtay hi sab say pehlay ye hi do batain mere dil main ayn
    RESPECT RESPECT RESPECT aur mere pas kehnay kuch bhi nahi last week main ne mahira show dekha aur show k start main aur mid main us ne ye line kahi and I was thinking k ye log itnay hi innocent han ya ban jatay han kiun k bilkul is show say say pehlay main ne MSKSH ki latest epi dekhi jis main heroine ki sab say wish kia thi “kash main batakh hoti” aur aj 1 week ho gya hai mere mind say ye bat abhi tak nahi nikli aur jab mahira ka claim(very proudly) k male dominated drama ab aurton ka ho gya hai suna to main hairan preshan k ye such much itnay bholay hai ya…aj kal 95% dramas female oriented stories per based han undoubtedly is sense main drama aurton ka ho gya hai lekin zra thum ker ye bhi to sochan wo aurtan in dramas main ker kia rahi han aur is bat ne last week say mujhay itna disturb kia hoa tha ek aur site per aisay hi ek show per “bhraas” nikal ker bhi ye hi sochti rahi kash is topic per apni GURU say bhi discussion ho sakti (ji han aj officially ap ko apni guru declare ker diya hai) aur ab ye article likh ker ap ne dil ko dil say rah wali bat sach sabit ker di aur jo likha hai main her word letter full stop coma each and every thing say agree kerti hoon kiunk ye ap k dil ki bat thi jis ne seedha mere dil per asar kia I am sure dosray readers per bhi ho ga
    coming back to article title dekh ker hansi bhi aa rahi hai lekin literally dukh bhi ho raha hai k him kis terf jaa rahay han ap ne almost her point ko cover kia hai lekin responsible kon hai is per main kuch kehna chahoon gi first of all writers I think ye sab say bara JHOOT hai jab writers(obviously sab nahi) ye kehtay han hum ye nahi likhna chahtay ye to producers ki demand hai blah blah ap dekhan ye decline kahan say start hoa 70’s 80’s main to sab thik tha private channels k anay k baad digest literature ya popular fiction first time itnay baray scale per pk drma industry main introduce hoa aur makers ne viewers ko attract kernay k liay best seller novels select kiay aur un per dramas bnaye ab in novels main jo likha gaya tha wo kis ki demand per likha gya tha kia digest publishers ki demand per aisa nahi hai reality to ye hai in writers ki apni psyche aisi hai un ka limited vision baised approach etc hi in ki tehreeron main nazer ata hai aur popular fiction to sada say kuch particular topics per based hota hai is k liay drama makers ko sara blame dena kahan ka insaaf hai for example MSKH ten years pehlay zgh almost 15years pehlay likhay gaye ye writer ki apni thinking thi jis ko unhon ne story main transform kia kisi producer k kehnay pe nahi chalo choran in ka latest novel AKS perr lan wo to dramatize nahi hoa abhi tak jis main writer ka abhi tak ka fav female character hai wo kis k kehnay pe likha hai to is baat main kuch wazan nahi ye typical pk approach hai aur hamari tabahi ki waja bhi k sara malba dosron per dal ker khud alag ho jao actual reasons to kuch aur han in ko kis ne kaha hai popular fiction likhan ye literature kiun nahi likhtay to ye in ki apni choice hai na to be-waqoof kis ko bana rahay han to pehli baat apnay kiay kahay ko openly own kren kahan k haan retrogressive conservative biased hopeless romantic jo bhi han hum khud han apni merzi say han
    secondly directors/producers sab say ziada responsible han chalan jo kuch bhi writers likh rahay han ap likhnay den ap per kia ferz ho gya hai k ap ne kisi bhi novel ko as it is adapt kerna hai I remember k mahira ne humsafer show main rain scene ka zikr kertay kaha tha k main ne dir say pocha barish main ghoomna zarori hai to unhon ne kaha novel main heroine ghom rahi thi to ghomo ye sab say bara reason hai is down fall ka kiun k digests ki apni viewership hai (middle/lower middle class) lekin drama viewership main her class gender community even her nationality k log shamil han to popular fiction ko us ki limited market say nikal ker drama industry ki relatively bari market main introduce kerwatay waqt jin changes ki zaroorat hai jis say her tra k viewers drama say connect kren wo kabhi nahi ki jatin I don’t know in ko ye misunderstanding kahan say hoi hai k dramas sirf middle class aurtan dekhtin han ab apnay dramas ko dub ker ker k dosray countries ko sale ker rahay han to kahan say drama middle class aurton ka ho gya aur pk main aj scenario totally change ho gya hai ab drama her koi dekhta hai to ye so called masses wali bat samajh nahi ati chalo in ki ye bat bhi man lo to ye wohi viewers han jo aj say 20-30 years pehlay dr zoya zara jaisi liberal progressive ladies ko accept hi nahi idealize kertay thay lekin aj 2014 main hamaray samnay batakh baji as a role model han to kia hum waqt k sath sath peechay ki terf jaa rahay han aj alpha bravo Charlie jais shehnaz nazer kiun nahi ati wo viewers kahan han jo in ko pasand kertay thay to ap ne dekh lia producers ka kehna k ye masses ki demand hai is main kitna wazen hai again ye sufaid jhoot hai
    responsibility ki bat ager ho rahi hai hum drama viewers bhi in main shamil han hum kiun aisy 3rd class entertainment ka boycott nahi kertay na-pasand honay k bawajood bhi hum us drama ko dekh ker us ki ratings berhanay ka sabab bantay han dosron ka mujhay nahi pta lekin main sirf wo dramas dekhti hoon jin ko dekhnay k bad mujhay ye na lagay k mere 40 min waste hoay ji han main apnay 40 min bhi kiun kisi bekar cheez ko doon main koi achi book kiun na perr loon achay suljhay logon say interact ker k apnay exposure main izafa karon is blog ko join kernay ka maqsad ye hi hai aur honestly main tv bohat kam dekhti hon isi waja say jab tak hum viewers apnay waqt ki qader nahi samjhan gay koi change nahi aye ga main hairan hoti hoon jab drama sites per bohat serious criticism ker walon say pocho to unhon ne her drama dekha hoa hota hai kehtay han ye na dekhan to kia kren suna hai asthetic sense develop ki jati hai lekin us ko develop kernay k liay bhi to ek sense ki zarorat hai us ko realize kerna hamara kam hai wo koi dosra nahi btay ga
    lastly ap ne apnay article ka end jin real life role models per kia hai aur jis main addition sheema ne kia hai main bhi usay second karon gi k woman of substance real woman chahay wo koi bhi ho us ko dikhanay ki zarorat hai I mean ye sab to apni fields main outstanding rahi han lekin ek mom jo apnay bachon ki achi upbringing kerti hai chahay usay koi na janay lekin society main us ki contribution hai us nai kuch achay insaan society ko diay han isi tra koi maid koi aisi aurat shayed dosron k liay imp na ho lekin apni zaat main complete ho aisay strong roles create kiay jyn aur phir hum sab waqai kahan drama aurton ka ho gya hai 🙂

    • @RJ loved ur comment! and ur analysis on writers, digests, directors and the audience..

      Like u i was totally mesmerized at the idiocity of the zoo-land heroine.. and even more so at how ppl were finding it cute and lovely.. I still can’t get over the dumbness and the numbness… Infact im still recovering from that shock!
      And it wasnt just the journey from victim-hood to battakh-hood of our heroine that amazed me but also the sweet serenade of her Romeo and how our awam seems to be in love with this apparently lovely and romantic scene.. Did anyone even realize what our romeo was singing?? did anyone pay any heed to his words?.. it was not a song abt love.. it was lust.. i was amazed at the explicitness and more so its acceptance!!.. it just goes to show how the director didn’t pay any attention here and how numb our audience has gone!

      I remember the discussion on MK tuc show with AZ and how public was fumed at the flirtatious talk.. i was expecting some back-lash here, but what we saw was wah wah and praise on fb and various forums… I really can’t get my head around this hypocricy!… Personally Im quite liberal in my views but even for me this was unacceptable and not called for in play like such…

      Are the zomby gayes from planet zoo turning the awam into zombies?? if so, there is one more reason to limit such species on our screens.. i never had a problem with MK AZ chat, and i give them even more credit now .. atleast it didnt feel like the awam was following the pied pier of hamelin..

      @SZ i know i went on a tangent & sorry for letting my steam out here.. had to get that off my chest! Phew! feel much lighter now!! lol

      @RJ totally agree with u.. looks like we have indeed gone backwards.. our heroine from 2014 is def more like a cinderella / sleeping beauty from the middle ages…
      where is that strong, progressive woman of today? locked away in a tower perhaps??… well someone please let he know to stop waiting for her hair to grow so her prince charming could rescue her.. that only works in fairytales.. she needs to find her own way out.. & fast!! lol

      • @FA:thanks for replying RE:MK AZ talk I absolutely agree with u aur ap ne kaha ap liberal minded han per man to bohat conservative hon phir bhi mujhay us main kuch bhi bura nahi laga show dekhnay say pehlay jo reaction/feedback main ne online dekha mujhay laga pta nahi kia ker dia dono ne lekin mujhay show main kuch bhi immoral nahi laga bulk main ne to bohat enjoy kia tha jin ko flirt kerna ho wo onscreen to nahi kertay lekin hum emotional log han bina sochay react kerna hamari adat hai I mean ap MK ki hosting skills per baat Karen show k theme ko discuss kren jo acha nahi lag raha jum ker criticize kren lekin kisi k character ko judge kernay ka koi right nahi ap ko sirf is liay k wo media person hai ab ap ko azadi hai k jo chahay bolan aisi batan sanam saeed k liay bhi boltay han kitna ghalat hai ye sab 😦
        RE:MSKSH’s song well main kal say soch rahi thi is baat per reply karon ya nahi kiunk ager sach bolon to bohat hi negative sound karon gi sach absorb kerna asan nahi hota very sadly lekin is baat say hmari as a nation psyche samnay ati hai firstly humaray double standards ap ko shehre zaat wali controversy yaad hai isi tra maat drama k doran hoa tha sab say pehli clearification to writer ki terf say ani chahiay thi mager nahi latest epi main ne nahi dekhi lekin kuch feedback aisa mila hai k hero was trying to kiss the heroine aur is per bhi log khush han k bohat acha refreshing change aa raha hai lekin AZ ki masoomana bulk childish flirtatious conversation ber bohat objections thin reason ye UA ka drama hai main un ko blame nahi day rahi lekin fans ki psyche per criticize ker rahi hon k UA kuch ghalat nahi keh saktin likh saktin wo social reformer han bahat religious han jo k han koi shak nahi lekin for God sake wo bhi insan han hmaray ap jaisi un ko aqeedat k us pedestal per bitha diya hai jahan kisi aam insaan ki rsayee nahi ager main ghalat hon ap zra un k FB page per zra sa criticize ker k dekhan fans to fans admins main tolerance nam ko nahi forum ap ban ho jyn gay aur sach ye hai reviewers (mostly) biased han in k mamlay main ya in ki huge fan following say dertay han kiun k kisi reviewer nay apnay review main us song ka ziker nahi kia aur us scene ka bhi nahi ho gaa
        RE:cinderella type stories well mujhay in stories say ziada in ki presentation per aitrazz hai ager us ko bhi believable bna ker dikha dan to thik hai I mean superman type films ko bhi to dekh ker hum enjoy kertay han to content say ziada style matter kerta hai
        mujhay jo cheez had derja irritate kerti hai wo hai good girl=dopata girl bad girl=jeans/skirt girl ap is tra kaisay ker saktay han k kisi ki appearance ki base per us k character ko judge kerna aur viewers ko kia message day rahay han aur pk k ilawa bhi dunya hai jis main insaan hi rehtay han libas to kisi bhi country k culture say related hota hai ab west main rehnay wali ladies ager us society ya culture ki waja say western dressing ker lan to ap k hisab main to wo pious nahi aur irony ye hai aurtan hi han jo ye likh rahi han ek aurat dosri aurat ko kis tra label ker sakti hai aur ye sab inject ho raha hai hmari youth k zehnon main thik hai values ko bin main dalo bus chader kharedo aur ban jao naik parsa kitna sat-hee vision hai aur ab ye bhi keh dan ye to producers ki demand han hum to aisa nahi sochtay inhi baton say in ka jhoot pakra jata hai mahira show main last week saba hameed nay bohat sensible batan ki thin aur root cause unhon ne btaya tha actyally ye log mehnat nahi kerna chahtay aur viewers per malba daal detay han sania saeed k latest interview main unhon ne khul ker baat ki hai wo bhi check ker lan

  3. @SZ First of all shukr hai we heard from u! …I am so glad to see u back in action!! hope & pray everything was ok.

    Totally with you. This apparent sudden boom in our drama industry is somewhat frightening. I am seeing new trailers and promos of new dramas everyday.. but unfortunately they all look the same old same old..
    The tears=ratings formula has to change!.. there is only so much of this we can take.. where is the creativity? ..like someone said to me the other day.. ”isn’t life hard enough?.. do we really need more tears!?!”
    Yes, our aurat struggles in the male dominated society, and that is why what she really needs is to be armed with is hope, inspiration and some aspiration….. and not yet more tears and a reconfirmation of her plight and victim-hood 24/7. (24 dramas 7 days a week..)

    Thank you for voicing that our women are not as bubble-brained as depicted on TV. she may not be as strong as her male counterpart, but our aurat is not weak and she is certainly not a budhdhu! Akhirkarr Harr kamyab mard ke peeche bhi aik aurat hi hoti hai!!!..
    she doesnt need to aspire for that knight in shiny armour to rescue her, or a romeo to serenade her… The real aurat doesnt live in that cloud-cuckoo-land. Sometimes I feel our media almost encourages her to go back in that direction.. no?

    Yes, we def need inspirational characters/ personalities.. its funny u mentioned that.. i was having a chat with a group of young girls the other day about their ideals and i was a bit taken aback when they could only come out with names of these strong-willed characters from the western media & literature.. and then I found myself in an even bigger dilema when i found it hard to give them something similar to relate to from back home..

    As much as we would like our new generation to connect with their roots, I find its becoming more and more difficult to do so. Our media needs to buck up and take responsibility for not just dishing out TRP oriented programs, but also for contributing towards depicting and nurturing a more realistic, deep-rooted, strong ethical society… Seeing that the base unit of a society is a woman and our women are hooked on our dramas, i believe dramas can play a major role in painting some positive ideals..

    sorry ive been going on and on.. hope it makes some sense.. and yes MK and @SZ on that day ill be chearing with u guys too!!!

  4. Awesome article! You nailed it! I am in complete agreement with your thoughts. Dramas of PTV era had stronger female role models as marina khan, Saira kazmi, Saba Hameed, etc., who do we have?

  5. Good to see u back SZ… Plz don’t disappear again!
    Great article…. Pakistani society has changed from what it was in the 80’s and hence this shift as well….but there are still many good people doing good work so there’s hope.
    Although I must admit I too enjoy seeing some of these mazloom aurat plays 😉

    • @Afia: ROFL!! Mil gaya … we found the culprit .. right here in our midst!! Hahaha! Ab tau I am sure ke Lhr ka ek TRP meter tau zarur tumharey ghar mein laga hua hai 😉 😉 LOL! You’d better switch over to non-mazloom aurat dramas ASAP takey hum sab ki jaan chhootey in roti dhoti auntiyon se … plz!!!

  6. My hats off to you for writing such a beautiful article as well as taking the initiative to address this topic. From what I read, HUM TV is the leading channel in Pakistan which is headed by two women – Mrs. Siddiqui and Mrs. Duraid – and yet these two ladies have done nothing to lead the way and show the women in positive roles. On the contrary, if Dil-e-Mutzer, ZGH and MSKSH are anything to go by, their dramas show women in very poor light. I apologize @FA but I am going to name Barbara Walters as a role model since we are talking about TV. She had to struggle a lot to reach where she did, however in the process she also became a pioneer for women and made it very easy for the ladies who followed her. If Mrs. Sultana Siddiqui really believes in the empowerment of women, as her Wikipedia bio claims, the actresses in her dramas would be shown as strong characters and not weaklings. In ZGH, the first time Kasaf leaves her husband huffing and puffing; finds out she is pregnant; runs back to her husband. The second time she does the same; finds out the gender of the babies; calls up her husband and goes back – so what was the purpose of showing these two incidents? Was it to show that we are so irresponsible and childish that at the drop of the hat we run back to our mothers? Because if she was to be portrayed as a strong, very well educated and able to take care of herself woman, Siddiqui would have shown that in both instances the husband eats the humble pie as he was at fault rather than the other way around – ditto for Ghazala – she is apologizing to her husband for being a bad wife and a bad mother because while working she had neglected her family. Why can’t it be shown that she was able to balance both worlds? Since Siddiqui was the director of ZGH, was Ghazala’s character based on her own life experience? If not, then why is a working woman degraded? Leaving aside Mrs. Siddiqui, what about Mrs. Duraid? She has a young child and yet she is holding a very powerful post in the family business. However nothing is going to change unless the Pakistani viewers take a stand.

    • @ Nargis ~ Loved your comment! You are spot on and used a very good example of ZGH. Kashaf was shown to be such a powerful character, a woman who can succeed on her own and at the end she ends up with her husband who walks away clean. Same with Ghazala.
      In Pakistan people believe that a woman’s job is to cook, clean and look after the family but have no identity of her own. And that is exactly what they show. It saddens me that people call all this entertainment and actually enjoy it.

      Even if the viewers do take a stand, it would take way more then a handful to bring a difference… But heres hoping for the best! 🙂 SZ can lead the way! 😀

      • I will disagree with both of you here. In zgh why are you taking kashaf’s going back to her husband as a sigh of weaknes???? I don’t get it. Being strong and independent woman does not mean that you can give up on relationships. Kashaf went back to zaroon not only because of her daughter but also because of herself. Bachon ke liye maa baap dono zaroori hote hai. Saath mein kashaf also realised ki usko zaroon ki zaroorat hai. Kiya ye bahut achha hota agar wo apni misunderstanding aur insecurities ki wajah se zaroon se alag ho gayi hoti?

    • @Nargis Rashid no need for apologies lol.. dont get me wrong, I’m all up for ideals from the west etc. I was amazed at how our these young girls didn’t have anything to hold on to from our own background. These were kids who r more interested in the characters more than real people behind them but they have no dr. Zoya or Shahnaz any more.. nothing much they could honestly relate to in this day and age. Like u mentioned, these girls don’t wanna be like Kashaf who would have to turn to their hubbies at the drop of a hat..

    • @Nargis: Apologies for the delayed response, but yes thank you for bringing up the very relevant example of Sultana Siddiqui … even more so when you consider that she has challenged the status quo every step of the way – from being a single parent, to being a risk taker and starting a new channel, to being a mother-in-law who encouraged her daughters-in-law to join the family business as it were – so it is indeed a disappointment to see the recent stuff being churned out from HUM TV :/

  7. God Bless you for writing this post and God bless this post that pretty much sums up how most of us feel about the dramas we are forced to watch. Well or we just quit! 🙂

    Every single channel plays about ten dramas back to back, with the same stories. I skim through a lot of stuff on Geo, Ary, and Hum mostly, and Geo has about three dramas with the same exact stories playing on three different days (2 episodes in 2 days, so double the fun for people who enjoy this stuff..woohoo). Same with Ary. So it seems each channel picks their favorite story line and makes about 5 dramas using that one story and same actors for the most part.

    It’s quite pathetic of what the Pakistani media is portraying women to be . But I wonder how much of this actually happens in real life. How much of Pakistan’s population consists of these ducks and gayens from our drama world. In this day and age probably not even 20%. I am not sure what audience this caters to but people who say they enjoy this stuff just for entertainment purposes are giving women a bad name and looking like fools themselves. They are the reasons why the writers and producers are churning out the same stories.. Goes to show they enjoy seeing other women suffer. A bit lame..

    Pakistani women especially the ones abroad are not living in a a male dominated society. In fact women are quite ahead of the men in this race. American shows/movies depict just that. They are very close to reality and a lot of people can relate. I am not sure why Pakistani media is so far behind with their thought process and the race for TRP. And its a shame that these are the kind of story lines that are winning in the TRP race.

    A new change would be, better stories, successful independent women, and shorter dramas because quite honestly nobody has the time to be following these 23-24 ep dramas and never ending soaps of the crying woman. They’ve become unbearable now.

    Lets hope your lovely piece of writing gets out there and wakes the people up! So we can see a change in our dramas!! 🙂

  8. Salaams SZ, great article. Wanted to know if u have seen Veena, an old drama of Fahad Mustafa aired in 2009, too good acting by Fahad who plays a transgender, there are 2-3 parts missing of only beginning few episodes but the rest of the drama is on this link if you haven’t seen it, few parts missing won’t matter:
    http://vidpk.com/c/96/Veena/#!…|cp:1

    Also, please do see Aashti when u get time:)

  9. I want to applaud to @RJ, Nargis, Ash and FA( is it short for Fatima Awaan by any chance!) I am so happy to read your follow up comments as you all have put your thoughts very articulately. As a business woman my motto is if I am not liking what I am selling or if I don’t use my own product than I don’t have right to sell it to others and if I still do, then I am a cheat and a hypocrite . What I want to ask the directors and producers and actors too ” do you REALLY think public is that DUMB” I am not blaming all of them but if you are producing 100 shows in a month and only 2 or 3 have some substance …is it good ??? is that what we so much boost about our dramas closer to reality ???? sorry to say viewers are the worst , they are dumb in most cases , sorry to say …hormone driven people who find any stupidity, cute, sexy, adorable, aalaa, best drama ever, want more , etc etc ..go on any FB page and it’s full of it and producers and director only reads that,one criticism and you are anti writer or anti director, etc etc …. where as the very same people watch Hollywood for there entertainment …yes it’s there choice what they watch but they can’t expect us , the masses to love and stick to the rubbish on our TV. I am watching only 1 drama these days out of 7 days only 1 ….does it represent the wonderful history of Pakistani Drama??? I blame every one…when drama like Numm get totally flopp ( in my opinion it was really good story ruined by the director , editor and casting director ) because FK was not like his NORMAL CHARMING self or there was no ROMANTIC bits … Viewers are equally qusoorwaar. I still believe that a good director can sell a story which might have no relevance to life ..but a bad director can turn a masterpiece into several pieces..

  10. Bravo!! SZ it’s fascinating how u are able to speak for the viewers and actors alike 🙂 People say I’m a conspiracy theorist but I firmly believe that media in Pakistan is being used for an agenda to turn the average woman into a brainless, unthinking, shallow creature with poor self esteem and negligible ambition so that our future generations grow up the same – just take a look at what the morning shows have become? Take a look at the majority of drama content? Why is there NO anchor addressing issues of human development / women’s empowerment today? What can I say – I am not either after investing over fifteen years of my career in that area!! Because channels, producers, writers are (apparently) dictated to by TRPs (the effectiveness / reliability of which are highly questionable any way). If viewers are to be blamed, if “that is what they want”, then why do I get questioned every single day by the average woman (and man) on the street, as to why I am not doing a show any more because that is something they NEED! Why do I get more feedback and appreciation regarding Aunn Zara and Talkhiyan then I have ever received for ZGH? Why do people appreciate me for the Express Telefilms (which by the way have been put on hold by the channel) with as much fervour as they did for Uljhan Suljhan or Geo Hina kay Saath? Why do they still call out to “Bibi Jonum” as I walk in the bazaar after so many years? It’s because they are the real viewers of Pakistani drama and television and they are being ignored! The irony is that the “young blood” heading these channels, the “educated” advertiser and marketing gurus have strong powerful role models amongst women in their own homes but fail to bring it to the screen. ZGHs Ghazala was as clichéd as it gets but it was something I did for Sultana apa. But as we celebrated Hum Tv’s 9 years and Oscar nominations celebrated female actors in their 40’s, 50’s and above in categories of Best Acting and Best Supporting roles, I did voice my own thoughts to her – when will I see the day as an actor when “characters” will be written for women like myself? When will I get to play “Sultana Siddiqui” on screen??

    • Hello Ms Bayat. Totally agreed what you and SZ said. Directly come to the point, I would like you to see you back on your track & do programs like Geo Hina kay Sath / Uljhan Suljhan & save us from this intellectual poverty showing every other day on our channels especially in the form of Morning shows.
      After going through SZ’s blog i realized we are forgetting our real life Heroes [Men/Women] because of so many reasons (not going in much details).
      By any chance, if you use twitter please do visit https://twitter.com/SanamSaeed_FP , i tried to re-call n share some of our wonderful and phenomenal ladies.

      “Mar Jaon Tu Kahan Log Bhula He Dain Gay” (Parveen Shakir) aur waqai hum bhula he chukay hain. Kahan Gaye woh program in which we used get a chance to hear about these wonderful personalities and their life struggles and experiences!

      Humbly requesting all the directors/producers or concerned authorities STOP this non-sense naach-gana culture, & STOP making Tamasha of the women.

    • @hina khwaja bhayat.. always love reading ur articulate and in-depth comments. Would love to see u as SS for sure! U r spot on with why these women cant portray women like themselves..
      Thanks for the heads up abt uff yeh muhabbat. Looking forward to it but i really hope its not disappointing like Qudrat. Been itching to ask u this.. Sorry & I hope u dont mind me asking, why did u choose to do Qudrat? I watched the first two episodes just for u, but had to give it up.

    • @Hina: Thank you for reading and responding – much appreciated!! Loved hearing your honest take on Ghazala and all that is wrong with our so-caled woman oriented programming. hy is it that people still remember characters from these average- flop serials rather than those in the super-hit ones. And yes, excellent question when will see Sultana Apa’s biopic? Or rather why haven’t seen it as yet? Would love to know her response to your questions!

      Thanks for the headsup for Uff Yeh Mohabbat .. keeping my fingers crossed for that one.. warna tau have been seriously disappointed with this current lot of dramas 😦

  11. And oh! A bit more from the “conspiracy theorist” in me – the way the roti dhoti aurat is gaining ground in our drama seems perfectly in keeping with the manner in which the present government is moving us towards Talibanisation (plz do go over their demands for negotiation). But on that worrying note a little something to look forward to – a heads up like I gave you for Talkhiyan and Aunn Zara, hopefully Uff Yeh Mohabbat (Geo) will not disappoint 🙂

    • It’s almost unbearable to watch telly between 8-11pm. “The stake holders” being given unlimited time to ram their view point down our throats.

  12. Hey SZ great to have you back with a bang! Interesting piece you wrote, definitely agree with there being a dearth of good quality stories, I am also barely watching two dramas right now out of all the current ones.
    So true when you switch them on you just hear the same dialogues, mazloom stories.
    However I am hoping that some of the commenters aren’t looking down on the women who do wish to stay and look after the home and the children, and choose not to work even though they have an education. There is nothing wrong with looking after the home. I willfully have taken a long break from a professional career so I can give full attention to my young children as my spouse is so busy. It should not be an issue whether they show a woman is working or not, It is when they show a complete loss of a woman’s rights and a really weak individual who has no say in anything and cant even stand up to her aggresors whether its inlaws or husband when she goes through abuse, or victimization what not and people say yes that’s how it is in Pakistan which really doesn’t get anyone anywhere. Islamically women have many rights and these are never shown.
    I do know that many people I even know watch these run of mill dramas and actually enjoy them, a few of Ahsan khans recent ones are on people’s favourite lists!! which were yuck for me.
    I’m sorry SZ but we are not a majority who comment here and are so passionate. There is a whole other middle class in Pakistan that watch and love these stories so the producers are cashing in on that!
    I hope we do see more different stories but Im not gonna hold my breath.

    • @SK:Take a bow for this comment 🙂 I think hum sab ko ek balance maintain kerna chahiay extreme level chahay kisi bhi side per ho acha nahi hai working lady ya house lady is ko ek principal bana ker sab per implement nahi ker saktay ye to person to person vary kerta hai zarorat is bat ki hai k aurat ko ek fard ek insan k role main independent kia jye us ki khwahish ki respect ki jye jo wo kerna chahay us ki azadi ho usay apni life k decisions wo khud lay na k society ya family… I mean ye tumhari education ka time hai ab career establish karo ya gherdari seekho chalo ab shadi karo ab bachay paida karo ab ye ab wo…main ne to pori life main ye hi hotay dekha hai aur ager ghalti say ap apna rasta alag kerna chahan to wo mukhalifat k pocho hi mat how dare she k society/family k teh kerda raston ko chor ker apnay liay khud kuch sochnay ki jurat ker li in my opinion is bat per logon ko educate kernay ki zarorat hai ap ki tra main bhi by choice ek house lady hoon lekin mujhay bohat struggle kerni pari is k liay kiunk family friends relatives sab oppose ker rahay meray decision ko lekin koi nahi samajhta k ye meri life hai as a human being mera birth right hai k ghalat ya sahi apni zindagi k faislay main khud karon aur apnay ap ko aur apnay halat ko mujh say behter koi nahi samajh sakta to dramas main dono tra ki aurton ki numaindigi honi chahiay aurat ki ek ferd k tor per respect honi chahiay chahay wo kuch bhi ho
      @NARGIS @ASH:ap ne zgh ki missal di hai aur pk main working ladies k role per baat ki hai
      see jaisa ash ne kaha k pk main aurat ki duty cooking cleaning etc hai bus ager sirf ye bat ho to mujhay koi problem nahi kiunk is main phir bhi saholat hai lekin ab society main ek new trend nazer aa raha hai last 15 years say jo dramas zgh dure shehwar etc main show kia gya k aurat super woman ban jye ye us say kahin ziada unfair hai jis main aurton ko carer establish kernay ki permission nahi di jati kiunk is main aurat ki koi identity nahi rehti if u remember kashaf ac sahiba apnay gher k washrooms khud clean kerti cooking laundry each and every thing khud kerti aur wo AC jaisi high profile job bhi ker rahi thi lekin drama main kahin ye nahi dikhaya gya k wo kuch time apnay sath bhi spent krey kiunk us ki apni koi zaat thi hi nahi ghazala is liay apologetic thi kiunk wo is tra ki ideal wife jis main apni koi identity na ho na ban saki isi tra raffia bhi misali isi liay thi k apni life betiyon k liay waqf ker di isi tra DES main shandana ka character tha end main gher banay ki sari responsibility aurat ki thi to merd ka role kia hai wo bus hukam chalanay ko paida hoa hai aur merd ko ye keh ker k usay to gher banana ata hi nahi her cheez say azad ker diya aur aurtan han jo ye keh rahi han aj 21 century main kia change aya ye to wo batan han jo aj say 40 50 years pehlay hoti thin I think ye super woman ka concept k ek aurat pehlay 9-5 job krey 6 bajay gher a ker cooking cleaning moping laundry husband k nakhray in laws ki khidmat bachon ka homework each and every thing krey kiun k wo ek aurat hai gher banana us ki responsibility hai is sab main us k apnay shoq life sab khatam ho jyn kiunk in ki kia zarorat hai (meri sisters almost 15 years say ye hi life guzar rahi han ) is cheez ko dramas main dekh ker dil chahta hai tv torr doon ek working lady ki problems ko highlight kernay ki bajay us ki life ko aur tough bana rahay han k oh acha sirf job to nahi kerni tumhan to gher aa ker bhi 15 hours kaam kerna hai aur husband kitna hi educated liberal loving ho us nay hil ker pani bhi nahi peena ye us ki shan k khilaf hai ye hai aj k pk ki society jis main aurton k liay chalanges aur bhi ber gaye han aur is per kisi ki tawajoh nahi

    • @SK – totally agree with you on the point where you say one shouldn’t look down upon housewives. For the most part i do not think people do look down upon them. Bc even that is a full time career, and one chooses to stay at home and raise their children. At least these women are not labeled as mazloom or the no identity women. Bc in all honesty though. And their job is a lot tougher then the ones out there who are following their career. I happened to read this article earlier which you may enjoy! 🙂
      It’s the women are portrayed as the mazloom, handicap without a man who are the real issue.

      http://www.sunnyskyz.com/blog/116/A-Husband-s-Amazing-Response-To-She-s-A-Stay-At-Home-Mom-What-Does-She-DO-All-Day-#.UvEYls2S3p8.facebook

      But as you say, unfortunately we are not the majority and it will take a lot more then a few commentators to make a difference. The difference we all would like to see. The middle class in Pakistan who enjoy this, should really really be sick of all these same stories by now don’t you think…sighhhhh

    • @SK.. Yes definitely agree with you that one shouldnt look down to home makers 🙂 i think its all about standing firm and fight for your rights else people will eat you out… I have witnessed myself a girl in our community as long as she was being dumb and scared for saying this is wrong this is right.. She was continuously being used and when she actually became courageous things went into her favour so easily.. I learned from that thing.. Women have to become strong.. No matter what

      • v true… i was also that kind of woman despite of being professionally educated ,i was used and was almost eaten up….Thanks to Allah i survived out of it but still it is tough to keep that courage mustered up all the time due to constant storms…
        I think it is the difference of psycology of a person n his personality.. two diff woman of diff personalities react differently in same circumatances
        Drama Zaibun Nissa showed Zebu as Bakri infront of Mehmood but later when she showed t courage…all her fears were gone…The ending was also v to the point tht they left it on viewers to decide ..bcoz many girls come across same situations..but it depends upon an individual to whether give her husband a chance or not depending on qualities n flaws of husband which ofcourse everyone differs in..
        Same in doraha…first wife did not know how to manipulate things…her personality…she suffered at the hands of both husbands…the second wife knew manipulation..even when her husband was not happy with her ..she did not panic…rather said..may apno beta nhi day saki…
        Even if they want to show mazloom aurats…they should show these contrasts so at least mazlooms can know how they can help themselves!

        • @Doctor: hello and thank you for reading and commenting, and most of all for sharing your story.
          The issue you’ve raised is an important one and one that goes to the heart of my problem with the whole the mazloom aurat scenario. Nobody is denying that challenges exist but by merely showing the woman suffering and cashing in on her tears is not helping anybody. Why not focus on the solutions as well and why not use the drama serial to educate viewers about how to empower themselves. Why wait till the last few episodes and then have all probes disappear as if by magic? What good is that doing and how is that helping anybody?

  13. buss ek choti si baat kehni thi….yeh jo producers kehte hain na “that is what they want” arey to bhai humm woh generation hain jo “kahani ghar ghar ki,kion ki saas…,soon pari.kahin to hoga,dil mil gai etc etc” dekhte howe bare howe hain…toh phir hmm se kion expect kia jaata hai k hum PTV k seedhe,simple,Shareefana dramas hazzam keren…toh ghalti humari nahi unki hai (lol) uswakt kion nahi ache dramas banai..humari roots kharabh kerdin, ab humko Khobsoorat Bechari Aurat,Shehzadon ki tarhan dikhne wala Mental Shohar/Hero aur cheesy romance k baghair drama hazam hi nahi hota…..aur sirf middle class per blame daalna k unko aurat ka ek particular luk acha lagta hai dekhna…..sorry bt Mekaal,FK,Imran et….yeh jo humari industry k Shehzaade hain na..yeh sirf middle class women nahi dekhti unko…..yeh jo word “drooling” hai na yeh middle class wale use nahi kerte……jab hum khud bura se bura drama bhi apne fav ya “eye candies” k liye dekhte hain chahe woh ashk/numm ho ya mkpyh.,…toh blame toh kuch “akal u sha’oor” rakhne wali “thoughtful” audience per bhi aata hai….yeh humara latest subse hit drama..infact agar geo/jang waloon k andaz main kahoon toh “Pakistan ki Tareekh ka sub se Hit Drama…jiska naam Aasmaano per likha ja chuka hai” (ab name batane ki zarorat to nahi na? lol)…Shehryaar Munawar Siddiqui…yeh 3 qeemti naam the is drama k hit hone k peeche……toh plz…apna apna boojh khud uthain sub..middle class walon per mat dalen….wese b mene suna hai yeh trp sirf khi,lahore,isb jaisi cities se calculate hoti hai sirf…jisko yeh poore Pakistan ki raai bana dete hain….
    sorry meri choti si baat itni bari ho gai… 🙂

    • @Aiman: You bring up a very valid point about a generation that has grown up watching all this and knows nothing different so to expect them to change overnight is not possible…and neither is everything we see on our TV bad as well.. the problem lies with the bulk of the stuff we see, much of which is neither upper clas nor middle class .. bas yeh kuch alag hi cheezain hain jo hamain in dono classes ke naam par dikhaee jati hain, thus widening the gap b/w perception and reality.

      Re: TRPs: You are absolutely right, majority in Lahore and Karachi, but I dont know if you or @RJ (who also talked about TRPs) read the article and a students thesis I had linked on this subject, but you should def read it .. I am pasting the two links below again… I think woh parh kar kaafi saari cheezain clear ho jayen gi .. aur sab se shocking baat jo aap ko lagey gi woh yeh ke saarey Pakistan mein sirf 675 households have the people meters attached to their TVs from which all these TRPs are calculated. Of these 675, 365 are in Khi, but what we dont know is which areas are they all located — are they all clustered together or spread out to get a demographic sampling kuch pata nahin – and Baluchistan has zero metres .. so when a country with a population of crores is being judged on the based of 675 meters tau garbar tau hogi .. Not to say that this does not also take into account all the cable walas etc .. sao masla kaafi gambheer hai … and upper ya middle ya lower class ke fark se ziada complicated hai … Again just my opinion but I would love to hear more feedback abt the TRP system once ppl read it ..

      Here are the two links:

      http://tribune.com.pk/story/611008/the-business-of-tv-are-ratings-really-the-best-judge-of-what-viewers-want/

      http://www.academia.edu/3073487/Analysis_of_the_Impact_of_People_Meter_on_Television_Advertising_in_Pakistan

      • @SZ: you are right.. I was very much amazed when got to know these ratings have affected prime time, budget.. Because clearly i didnt knew about how trps are measured so it was very much informative that its very much monopoly going on..

      • @SZ yes i read it the other day and i was shocked! Had to go back and read again to make sure i had read it right! 675 : 14 crore and 675 :375… We dont need an einstein to work out whats going wrong here!!
        Calculating trp from such a tiny sample and wo bhi most of it in one city.. Thats non-sensical!!
        & yes would love to know the areas abd demographics etc too!!

      • @Sz: thank u so much for sharing these informative article/thesis with us mujhay to abhi pta chala in k baray main blame goes to my bari bari eyes jo size k accordingly kabhi kam nahi kertin 😦
        coming back to the topic main ne already kuch articles aur talks shows is topic per dekhay thay but I must admit jitni detai itnil information aur in-depth analysis jo in main wo pehlay meri nazron say nahi guzra so again thanks a lot now comparison between G and PM and the accuracy and advantages of PM results and its impact on our tv industry the drawbacks of PM technology in sab k baray main hum jantay han aur merely more or less isay accept bhi kertay han lekin question of the day jo actually ap ne apnay article aur commenters ki is detailed heated discussion k bad samnay aya apni jaga hai k aj humari tv industry jis trend ko follow ker rahi hai ager viewers ki majority ki demand k mutabik hai to kia ye is bat ka prove hai k wo qualitative entertainment hai kia is vision thinking trend style ko follow ker k hum ek ideal or better society create ker saktay han ya is ko change kernay ki zarorat hai aur ye change kon laye ga viewers ya wo think tanks jo is media industry ko chala rahay han I think media ye ker sakta hai us main ye power hai k society ko apni merzi ki direction day lekin aisa nahi ho ga kiunk un ki niyyat nahi hai secondly is kam k liay bari dedication hard work time devotion and above all jis self less approach ki zarorat hai wo yahan kis k pas hai yahan media ek profitable business hai unlke western countries jahan media power say society main remarkable changes ayn han PM tec viewers ki choice jannay say ziada ye confirm kernay k liay hai k jo formulas hum use ker rahay han wo kahan tak successful han aur ager nahi to apni saholat k hisab say un main kia changes lyn that’s it atleast meri understanding to ye hi hai

      • Hi. The research thesis was prepared by my team at SZABIST and it was an enlightening as well as confusing journey regarding People Meter in Pakistan. Knowing that how important this information is, I decided to share it with the world rather than keep it to institution. If there is any query about People Meter and TRPs you may have, feel free to ask. I agree that dramas and tears and over-dramatized scripts have disturbed the fabric of our society, but the same dramas have brought back a significant chunk of viewers that were actually hooked to Indian dramas and that information was only gained through People Meter.

        • @Wasio Ali Khan Abbasi: Hey! Great to hear from you 🙂

          When researching the piece above I was very frustrated by the lack of substantive discussion on the Pakistani media. Given that our TV industry is a significant contributor to the Pakistani economy and plays a crucial role in not only shaping society from the inside but also serving as a window into society from the outside, it was very disheartening to see the majority of stuff floating around on this topic consisted of ill-informed opinion pieces and so I was very pleasantly surprised to come across your very informative paper. Your detailed findings helped me put a lot of other random info into a wider context and provided a clearer understanding of a very complicated issue. I, for one, am glad that you chose to share your findings with a wider audience. Thanks!

          In terms of TRPs and their utility in helping PK dramas reclaim their audiences, I agree with you but will add that with the passage of time this TRP system is calling out for a major overhaul. This is no longer a time when audiences, even in Pakistan, are exposed to only 5-10 channels. The viewers today are watching stuff from all over the world, and when they switch to Pakistani dramas they are not tuning in to watch yet another wannabe Bollywood copy or yet another spin on the same old formulas, rather they are tuning in to watch the creativity and originality that sets a Pakistani drama apart from the rest of the stuff out there. Sadly though our drama makers/producers/channels seem to have lost the plot and are desperately trying to one one up each other in churning one mediocre drama after another – all for the sake of winning the battle for higher TRPs!

          I don’t know if you are still researching this subject, but it would be fabulous if there were to be a follow up study, to analyze the impact of these TRPs on the qualitative aspect of the drama industry in Pakistan.

          • @SZ: Hello to you too 🙂

            When I had uploaded the paper, nothing happened for about a month. Just occasional hits. Then the traffic slowly began to increase and eventually I started receiving over 30 hits on average a week from around the world. A few weeks back there was a spike of 175 hits in a single day, mostly Facebook, and one of the links was of your blog that led me to this post.

            Since the upload, there has been a slow but sure increase of information about people meter and TRPs in Pakistan (some of which is eerily similar, word to word, from my research paper) and so far our research has not been cited anywhere that I know. Still, it makes me glad to have made the right decision to go public with this work 🙂

            I completely agree with regards to TRPs. For a nation of 180 million, only 675 meters can do no justice especially when lions share of ratings is taken away by Karachi and Lahore (both primarily Urdu speaking cities). But Pakistan is not the only one with this problem. India, with a billion people, had only 10,000 meters installed which is even worse in terms of accurate depiction of ratings. While researching for the paper, all I could come across was corruption and mis-presentment of people meter data to benefit some channels/programs … it was a huge scandal a couple of years back so it proved tough to find any detailed, unbiased article. When I discussed this problem with industry people, they were shaken by the news and kept trying to assure that people meter’s data in Pakistan is not tempered with.

            As for the dramas, Indian dramas are not the only culprit. Imported dramas, irrespective of their quality, have also had some negative impacts on the industry. Ishq-E-Mamnoon was bought by Urdu1 at the cost of $100/episode and total cost of purchasing, dubbing and airing was not more than Rs. 15k to 20k per episode. Compared to that a locally made episode, with minimal actors, equipment, sets and everything would still cost upward of Rs. 200,000 at the very least. For the channels the purchasing and dubbing was complete profit. That is why a few years back actors and industry people had come out to demand ban on foreign dramas since they really threatened to leave a very large majority jobless.

            Moreover, we must also remember that majority of our channels, whether they are news channels or entertainment, are not in profit. These channels are financed by their respective media groups since they perform (the news channels) as political pressure groups. Which means while the channels have money, they would prefer to go as low cost as possible.

            Moreover, the people meter helped identify the target audience of dramas which was predominantly female. The age group was usually between 16 to 40 years and females are more interested soap operas and overly dramatized stuff, with lots of “saas baho” fights and jealousy of lovers and estranged relationships with either unyielding/abusive husbands or sudden sparks of love. These dramas brought in the ratings, brought back viewers from Indian dramas (Humsafar phenomenon) and they are bringing in advertising and money for the channels.

            Humsafar phenomenon was interesting. The drama was initially restricted to very few episodes because it didn’t expect to do much. When aired and a couple of episodes ratings were checked, they were going off the charts. No local drama had received so much viewing, and all of a sudden all the parts of script that were cut off or canceled were brought in and on war footing the shooting of those episodes began. The drama ended, with drawn out story line, with highest ratings of a local drama every recorded. It’s been called Humsafar Phenomenon every since and the first program to beat that ratings was Ishq-E-Mamnoon.

            This has cemented the concept that relationship problems are programs in demand and should be produced, that’s why all the dramas you see on prime time slots are all of love triangles, family problems and estranged relationships. No one has the money or courage to experiment with some other drama, likes of which we had seen in form of Dhoop Kinaray and Dhuwaan, because channels would not accept them (what will females do watching a police drama, they ask) and in case of any problem, it won’ take long for the channel to import a foreign drama, have it dubbed and air on prime time. The ratings, as a result, have held hostage the entire industry since we have been unable to deal with the problems arisen because of people meter.

            Unfortunately I am no longer part of the industry. Currently working as Marketing Executive for a leading IT firm, I am far away from the world of ratings and media. This was something I had known even when working on the research paper, therefore we came up with topics that can be taken up for research by new batch of students (haven’t seen any sign of it yet). If I had stayed, I would have surely researched further. My initial research purpose was to see if seasonal programs (like Friends, HIMYM, Lost etc) are possible in Pakistan or not rather than 10 to 15 episodes limited programs. When programs like CID can run for 16 years in India, we can have shows that would run for some episodes every year and could be made as big movies the way western shows are made.

            It was way too ambitious and my adviser not just toned it down but directed towards a more fundamental research on people meter (and I am glad he did, without prepare foundation it is not possible to go high).

  14. HI SZ . So happy to have you back with wonderful artical. Missed you. I thought I was the one thinking about drama that nothing is interesting but when I read all comments it makes you wonder!!!! SZ send some warm weather please!!!

    • @Ranjan: Hey! Yes, sadly nothing to write home about as far as dramas are concerned. I had my fingers crossed for Shuk, but oh well!
      LOL! I wish I could send you some warm weather, but here in MA we just dug ourselves out of a foot of snow earlier in the week and now have more on the way 😦

  15. @Ash and @Seema thanks a lot for your encouraging words.

    @SK: I do not think this article is addressing the stay at home mothers. This article is contradicting what MK said on her show, TUC, the Lighter Side of Life on Feb. 1st – Quote ……. in fact male dominated drama ab aurton ka ho gaya hai….. Unquote. My understanding is that SZ is questioning the demeaning ways women are portrayed in our dramas. How many sisters will plot to break up the marriage of her sibling and yet at one time we saw one drama after another with this storyline(Maat, Bari Apa, Madiha Maliha, and Yahan Pyar Nahi Hai, to name but a few). In real life are all MIL’s mean? Can women not juggle work and family at the same time? Does a divorced and/or a separated woman not be able to survive on her own? Why not show a widowed, divorced and/or separated woman capable of earning enough to live comfortably with her children without having to run to ex-husbands or relatives and put up with their insults.

    @RJ: I really love reading your comments; however half way I have to give up since it is very difficult for me to read the Roman Urdu and at the same time grasp the meaning since Urdu is not my mother tongue. The only reason I used ZGH as an example is because of Sultana Siddiqui. Being a head of a very popular and powerful channel, she can really do a lot to create role models for youngsters of Pakistan.

    In order to keep pace with other countries, Pakistani writers, directors and producers will have no choice but to change their mindset once their dramas gain enough popularity globally since it is the advertisers who pull the strings and in order to reach a wider market for their products, they will be forced to take into consideration what is acceptable outside of Pakistan and that time is not that far off as can be attested by the fact that Pakistani actors are now being offered work in Bollywood movies.

    • I did not say that SZ or the article is addressing this. I just disagree when some commenters say that why are women always shown as cooking and cleaning or being at home. That is because a lot are as it comes with staying home to look after your children. It is a full time job and should not be looked down upon, to want to raise your children with your full attention and to give them a good moral upbringing is a huge challenge Not everyone can afford cleaners and maids 24/7. However on the other end, working women should also not be degraded, as it is a real struggle for them too to balance.

      • @SK: Absolutely! Very well said… and if I read you and other commentators correctly we are all arguing against this flat characterization of women, be they housewives or working women. All we want is that we are portrayed as human beings with a normal IQ. And yes, also agree with your earlier comment ke we need to have stories that portray not just aisa hi hota hai but also show the abused woman, the cheated upon spouse a way out of the situation .. b/c clearly as you said we do have rights religiously as well as equal citizens of the state.
        Yes we are in a minority, but theek hai …. at least we can say ke we complained about it … baqi tau yes, not holding my breath either .. sad reality 😦

    • @RidaHaidry: Hello! I think at this point there is so much a mess ke its hard to point to one exclusive cause, but yes this too has been brought up in many discussions on the topic.

  16. Amazing amazing post!! Very much needed for crap coming on these days…i feel suddenly after august 2013 only one or two worth dramas are coming.. Baqi is actually all bakwas.. Pehle atleast there were 5-6 dramas one could see with interest.. Lack of creativity, Trp race, low promotion and majority of audience wanting to see drama just for time pass and not actually for sensible stuff.. These are some factors i can think of why its all going down the drain..

    I really appreciate the link you provided in your review about Research on Rating system in pakistan.. I was going through it and its really so interesting.. And thank you for mentioning some names in list of women of substance.. Its very nice to read about them specially when u dont know one or two of them..

    • @Rehmat: Hey! Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it and found it informative, Thank you also for takin gthe time to read the links provided .. chalo kisi ne to parha! 🙂

  17. Hey Guys! Apologies for being MIA … my migraines have been really acting up recently making it really hard to think coherently enough to respond to your very thought ful and well-articulated responses….Waisey do any of you know of any gharelu totkas for migraines? I’m so fed up of trial-ing all these meds 😦 Any and all mashwaras will be very welcome 😀

    • Sorry to hear about your migraines SZ 😦 May Allah give you shifa. I was reading online and vitamin B2 came up along with keeping your head cool and your feet warm. I am sure you have tried that already.

      • @Annie: Awww thank you!!! Yes, doing B vitamins, but just doing B2 might be a better idea will try it def .. thanks!!

        And, in reply to your earlier comment, yes nothing new seems to be worth watching .. I was barely watching one and ab I lost interest in that one as well. I quit MSKSH a while ago, but did themistake of watching it last week and then walked around in a daze after that for about a week 😦
        Yes, that comedy (I dont know why they keep changing the name ) looks promising. Its written by Faiza Iftikhar so expect filminess but and this a big BUT it is directed by Fahim Burney,
        The only other serial I am looking fwd to is also by Faiza I and stars Gohar ( no go I know) and Mehar Bano.. the promos look good and now Hina says its promising so will wait for that …baqi to karki ka mausam chal raha hai 😦

  18. SZ very well articulated and you’ve said all that most of us have been complaining about for a few years now. I’ve pretty much stopped watching these dramas. Today we had Hum Tv live transmission on and I got to see the ads for their dramas and I was like uff every drama had a lady crying over something. There was only one promo of a comedy that’s coming up with Shehroz and Vasay. I literally had a headache just watching the mazloom aurat promos. I don’t even know how people sit through 25 episodes!
    I don’t know if and when we’ll get the Dr. Zoya’s back on the screen. Totally annoyed by the state of the drama industry over the years.

  19. Balance is what we are lacking! Homemakers are doing the most difficult job in the world – of giving us a new generation of valuable citizens. Working women on the other hand have multiple responsibilities to fullfill and do so with perhaps better time management. Yet they too sometimes lose that balance – the reason why Ghazala was apologetic in ZGH because it really is hard to be superwoman. But eventhough Pakistani women are diverse and beautiful in their diversity, our drama today is by and large showing only one type of class and characters. Albeit they exist but are not representative of the majority. Sarmad Khoosat summed this up at a session on Drama & the Small Screen yesterday at the Karachi Literature Festival. I raised the same questions (esp about characters / characterisation / role models) to a panel consisting of Haseena Moin, Sultana Siddiqui, Seema Taher Khan, Attiya Dawood and Shakeel sb – they all eechoed my feelings but the only one who responded with a commitment was Seema Taher who has tried in her own way to give us things like Boltay Afsaanay but hasn’t been commercially successful. Otherwise everyone just passed the buck or entirely evaded my question. The same goes for my not anchoring a show like Uljhan Suljhan or Geo Hina kay Saath – (barring TV One that produced Laal o Gohar) they all praise, appreciate and acknowledge how much we need such shows but don’t commit to putting anything like that on their screens. The women sitting on the panel were my role models growing up and today they are the ones who can bring about a change but only if they will it! We, debating on this forum are not a minority – its just that the majority is silent, much like our political voice!

    • @Hina Khwaja bayat Thanks for voicing our concerns to the people who can bring about a change!! I hope & pray that these role models do go back and ponder upon this and come back with a bang… Fingers crossed!

    • Almia *sigh* !

      One more biggest almia… I know its not relevant here but wanted to share. was there in KLF, quite shocked to see dances on latest senseless indian songs in between the intellectual sessions!

    • Really appreciate your input. It’s shame really.
      We have so many personalities with experience, depth and substance. If only they could make consorted effort.

    • thank you Hina for making an attempt on the viewers’ behalf to voice your concerns. When money is involved that’s really the only thing you can do at this point.

  20. One of the Best article that I have read on this topic. So true and so relevant.
    We love pakistani dramas but not satisfied with current trend.

    • @anwar.suhail: Thank you- glad you found it relevant and enjoyed it. Yes, exactly, this critique is not b/c we dislike or have something against our dramas, but rather that we would like to see improved content and quality.

  21. @hina khwaja bayat: you are one of the very few actors who is really interested in getting an input from your fans which I find very admirable. One of the first dramas I watched was “Tum Ho Ke Chup.” Needless to say I found it very hard to follow and most of it went over my head but I watched the whole of it diligently just because of you. Since then I have become an ardent fan of yours.

    In my previous comment, I had specifically mentioned Ghazala of ZGH because I had an issue with the double standards applied throughout the drama. In your own ways you were as involved in the lives of your children as Rafia was; Zaroon had a problem with you being a working woman and yet he had no objection to his wife working; I can go on and on but suffice to say, as SZ has said above, showing this class difference creates nothing but ill feelings.

    @Umeazhaan, every relationship has ups and downs, be it that of a husband and a wife, a mother/father and a child, siblings or friends; however relationships are two way streets – it is give and take. What is objectionable is the way these things are depicted in majority of the Pakistani dramas. In most instances the husband walks away scot-free while the woman always gives in. Kasaf knew she was pregnant when she left her husband and in spite of Rafia telling her repeatedly to give in and go back, she is adamant about staying put however the moment she finds out the gender of the twins, she goes running back. Leave aside the role of a female in a drama, look at TUC the Lighter Side of Life. The show is supposed to concentrate on the guest/s and yet in most of the ones that I have watched, the topic is veered towards the guest praising MK’s beauty. Would this have been done had the show been hosted by a handsome male actor?

    @sk, my sincerest apologies for misunderstanding your comment.

    • @nargis rashid
      I agree with what you are saying. Ki kashaf zaroon ke paas tab gayi jab usko apne bache ka gender pata chala. I totally understand why she did that. She herself grew up without a father figure and she understood the importance of a father in a girls life. I don’t know if you will agree with me or not but here is my observation about the strong women we are talking about here……. Behind every successful man is a woman but behind every successful woman is a great father………aisi bahut si misalein hain history mein aur khud ye maine apni zindagi mein dekha hai……frankly speaking this is not just an issue in pakistan. It’s the same everywhere……. I live in a developed nation and even here the issue remains the same. No role models for young girls…………i read these teenage writers from all over the world and their stories revolve around the same prince charming that will come and rescue them…….my point is instead of treating these dramas like a showcase of our society, we should take it as they are supposed to be. Like entertainment. Childern learn from their families. Let us all become strong independent and smart women so that our daughters don’t have to look at dramas to find a role model. Meanwhile let ordinary pakistani women who deals with a tough enough life as it is have her escspe. May be they watch these roti dhoti bechari type because they relate to it. May be bacause somewhere a woman getting abused by her husband relates to kiran and unlike kiran she she can’t help herself because she is too scared of this judgemental world.

  22. @Nargis Rashid:I really like to read your comments and always want to discuss with you .but as you said before that Urdu is not your mother language and it is difficult for you to read and understand roman Urdu same is the case with me English is not my mother language though I can read and understand english very well but sadly my writing skills in english are not very good and I don’t feel comfortable writing in english but when there is a will there’s a way you can use google translate for understanding my comments all you have to do is just copy my comment from DnR and paste into the translate section of google translate and then mazay say listen(yes listen don’t try to translate it because these translations are not very accurate ) it will take your 3-4 minutes hardly I have tried it by myself and found it very helpful this is the only way I can help you 🙂
    Now coming back to my comfort zone(oh what a relief) 🙂 aap kay comment kay 2nd paragraph per baat kerna chahti hoon. RE:zaroon’s double standards. well I think aap yahaan zaroon ko misunderstand ker rahi han. oos ko ghazala kay working lady honay per koi objection nahi tha problem yai tha jo main nay apnay previous comment main detail say likha tha aur @hina ma’am nay bhi kaha hai. kay ghazala apni personal and professional life main balance maintain nahi ker paa rahi thee. aur drama mai iss balance ki perfect example kashaf aur raffia theen. that’s why zaroon oon ko idealize kerta tha. now my problem is that kay in dramas main marital life kee failure or success ka complete onus sirf women per hota hai. I think zgh main ghazala kay sath junaid bhi responsible tha lekin blame sirf aurat per aya. secondly real life main kashaf ki traa super woman ban jana possible nahi hai. aur is life style main aurat ki apni koi identity nahi rehti. to makers society ko wrong message day rahay han. in my opinion ek working lady jis traa apni family ko financially contribute kerti hai us ki family bhi oos ko help out krey apni responsibilities ko achi traa fulfill kernay main. lekin zgh main koi bhi male yai kertay nahi dekha gaya like zaroon and junaid sirf ghazala ko blame kertay rahay. oon ka apna role kia tha. oon ki mistakes per koi baat nahi hoi. zaroon kabhi bhi kashaf ko kisi bhi kaam main help kertay nahi dekha gaya. naa hi kashaf ko oos ki hobbies ko continue kernay per encourage kia same message durr e shehwaar main bhi tha.
    SZ nay apnay article main jin remarkable ladies ko mention kia hai. in main say mostly yai admit kerteen han kay in ki success main family support kaa important role hai. lekin hamaray dramas main yai cheez missing hai. aur samajhtay han hum nay aurton ko azeem bana diya hai. yai keh ker kay gher sirf wo bana sakti hai. but truth is that real life main aap nay in ko weak kia hai. in ki responsibilitiers ko double ker kay
    last main SZ ka ek baar phir thanks kay unhon nay aisa article likha jis say itni meaningful aur thoughtful discussion generate hoi. hum itna kuch likh chukay abhi bhi diff POV’s samnay aa rahay han 🙂

    • @RJ ….yaar ur comments r fun to read…lvd ur ‘ Mazay se listen’ 🙂 aur exactly yehi prob mere sath b hai..aap mujhse parhwalain ya ghantoon baghir ‘Aaa oon’ kiye baghiar eng main batain ker walen bt jab likhne per aati hoon toh words mere mind main lungi dance kerne lagte hain..hehe…
      @SZ Aapka 2nd link abhi takk check nahi kia..kaaaaaaasaaaaaafi bara hai…kaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafi time chahiye usko parhne k liye bt surely parh ker rpl zaror karongi InshaAllah…aur ek baat…yahan per jo log comment kerte hain mjhe lagta hai90 % Pak se baahir rehte hain…bcuz unki jo def ‘Weak women’ ki hai wohi def meri ‘Strong women’ ki hai..shayad issi liye mjhe Kashaf ek bht hi strong bandi lagti hai…actually main un logon main se hoon..jo yeh maante hain k maaf kerne wala insan badla lene wale insan se ziada strong aur bara hota hai…har kissi main itni takat nahi hoti k maaf ker sake…chahe woh Khirad ho ya Falak ya Kashaf ya Sila..yeh 4ron meri Strong Women ki def per poori utarti hain…bcuz yeh Allah k bandon ko maaf kerna jaanti hain…..aur yeh takat har kissi k pass nahi 😀

      • @Aiman Dunno abt everyone else her, but my problem is not with ‘maaf karna’. Im all up for forgiveness and all.. but why is it only aurat’s zimmedari.. why can’t men take onus for their actions.. why cant they ask for forgiveness. why can’t they show some remorse.. thats where I found humsafar quite sound. We saw Ashar begging for forgiveness, and the the aurat showing signs of a strong spine.. One of my fav bits was the irony where Ashar says he forgives Khirad and she relpies that she had never asked for forgiveness.. zaroon on the other hand never apologised..no remorse whatsoever!
        Falak, yes she was strong but she found her real strength when she changed the focus in her life and realized she didnt need Salman any more.

        • @FA ab yeh sawal toh Allah se pochna parega k usno yeh khosisiat sirf humme kion rakhi hai…bilkul aise hi jaise jannat sirf Maa k kadmon talle kion hai..baap k kion nahi…Allah ne apni muhaabt ki misaal sirf Maa k hawale se kion di hai Baap k hawale se kion nahi… “Fitrat” se jung nahi ker sakte na hum…
          Jahan takk Ashar ki baat hai, Pehli baat toh yeh k Ashar ne jis tarhaan maafi mangi thi usko “begging” nahi kehte…bulkeh Adeel ne Sila se jistarhan maafi mangi thi usko kehte hain “begging for forgiveness”….
          Ashar ko toh maafi mangni hi thi bcuz uski wajah se Khirad ki almost life tabah hogai thi…bht suffer kia tha Khirad ne Ashar ki waja se…woh apni biwi ko protect nahi ker saka…..bt Zaroon ne aisa kia kia tha jo woh Kashaf se maafiyan mangta? Yes woh hypocrite tha..har insan hota hai..aur mard hazraat kuch ziada hi hote hain bt uske kissi act ki waja se Kashaf ki life nahi tabah hoi thi…undono ki life main probs theen bcuz of Zaroon’s hypocricy and Kashaf k hadd se ziada ego ya akar ki waja se..ab agar un problems ko khatam kerne k liye Kashaf ne pehal ker di toh isme masla kia hai?? kissi na kissi ko toh pehla kadam uthana hota hai na….aap yeh kehna chahte ho shayad k hameesha humare dramas main woh pehla kadam aurat hi kion uthati hai..usse mjhe bhi prob hai, kabhi kabhi yeh bhi dikhana chahiye k mard pehal kare rishta bachane k liye….bt yeh bht kam hota hai..shayad issi liye aapko humare dramas main bhi yeh bht kam dikhe ga….bt jab dikhate hain to hum kehte hain k us bandi ko maaf hi nahi kerna chahiye tha chahe saamne wala hath jor ker b maafiyan mang raha ho eg DileMuztar…(and plz dnt kill me bt meri nazar main Adeel ka character Ashar k character se bht behter hai…Sila ka Adeel ko maaf kerna mere liye ziada acceptable hai Khirad ka Asher ko maaf kerne se )
          Khirad aur Falak dono main ek baat common hai dono main se koi bhi apni “muhabbat” k liye wapis nahi aaya tha…dono ne apne shohron ko maaf ker diya tha..Falak ne Allah k liye and Khirad ne apni beti k liye…bt “maaf” ker diya tha…yeh baat unke characters ko meri nazar main aur bhi ooncha ker deti hai…meri samajh main yeh nahi aata k hum is baat ko hameesha aise kion lete hai k aurat “jhuki” hum isko aise kion nahi kehte k aurat main Allah ne yeh taakat mard se ziada rakhi hai k woh bhola sakti hai,aagey barh sakti hai,pehal ker sakti hai aur maaf ker sakti hai…
          Ab in sub batoon se mera yeh matlab hargiz nahi k khud ko strong saabit kerne k liye bandi doormat ban jai (main “Kiran” ki bht bari supporter hoon)..buss balance rakhna chahiye…na humko woh wali “strong women” banna chahiye jo maaf kerna na jaanti ho ya jisme lachak nahi…na humko woh wali “strong women” banna chahiye jo zulm bardasht kerte kerte mar hi jai (jiska dars humari society main diya jata hai)…buss humko tameez honi chahiye k Allah ne humko jo yeh weapon di hai uske hum kis tarhaan istemal karen kissi extreme main jai baghair….

          • @Aiman As i said earlier, I have absolutely no problem with women forgiving, so long as their men also show some remorse..

            lol @ Allah se poochena pare ga..i hear u lekin Allah ne yeh kab kaha hai ke mard patient aur forgiving nahin ho sakta, aur mard aurat ke samne nahin jhuk sakta??? mard lachak nahin dikha sakta? Aurat ki fitrat : abb yeh baat ho hi rahi hai tou, aurat was created from a rib.. So she also needs to be handled with care.. she can also break easily..

            Re: Aurat maaf kar sakti hai = aurat mein ziada takat hai: I’m sorry but that’s just the theory I can’t stomach! Yes our Aurat is stronger than mard in that respect, but I feel our dramas are just feeding this one aspect of strength to our awam, constantly encouraging the aurat to endure more and be patient and go on forgiving to no end.. I feel drumming in this theory is almost setting new standards for our society that aurat who can’t forgive etc is the kamzor aurat (= buri aurat),, which can only hurt and weaken the real women!!!..Its great for satisfying male ego, but how is it helping the real aurat?.. Rather than only glorifying her stamina in endurance & patience, why can’t our media portray her strength in other aspects?? Surely there is more to aurat than that!!..

            re Adeel vs Ashar: I never really followed Dil-e-Muztar pply. I was put off by the whole plot (esp Sila) in the beginning. But as far as i remember she evolved into a stronger woman after their child died, and her hubby was (somewhat) responsible for the death. He had remarried almost straight-away after she left him and then only really came back to her after he found about his son he never knew he had (and his second wife was barren)… Now sorry but how can this/Adeel be better than Ashar? Ashar was even ready to forgive her when Khirad (apparently) wasn’t even ashamed of whatever wrong she had supposedly done.. So for once we were seeing a forgiving man!

            • @FA Sorry mene yeh bilkul nahi kaha k jisme maaf kerne ki takkat nahi woh ‘BURI’ya kamzoor hai..mene yeh kaha tha k woh ziada strong hai…dono batoon main fark hai…and ya mene b kaha na isse mjhe bhi prob hai k har wakt sirf yeh kion dikhana k aurat sacrifice kare mard k b kuch faraiz hote hain..unko b kuch batain yaad dilane ki zarorat hai…
              Mene yeh b nahi kaha k mard main lachak nai ya woh maaf nai kersakta…mene buss yeh kaha hai k nisbatan aurat main ziada hoti hai lachak…jaise mene kahq tha na keh Allah ne apni muhabbat ki misal sirf Ma k hawale se kion di baap k hawale se kion nai…ab iska matlab hum yeh to nai nikalenge na k baap aulad se muhabbat nai kerta…iska matlab hum yeh nikalenge k baap ka dil maa k dil jitna narm nai hota..woh muhabbat kerta hai aulad se bt wesi nai jesi ek maa kerti hai….ab aise cases b hote hain jahan dono parents bilkul is theory k ulat hote hain…yani maa ziada sakht dil hoti hai baaz aukat infact kahin kahin saffak b..bt kia isse yeh fact badal jai ga k maa jitni muhabbat aulad se kerti hai utni muhabbat koi aur nai karsakta…Nai na?
              Ab jahan takk Adeel vs Ashar ki baat hai toh bakool aapke apne drama sahi se nai dekha…toh phir aapse yeh discuss kerna fuzool hai bcuz cheezain wesi nahi hoi thi jaisi aapko patah hai yani Adeel responsible tha unke bache ki mot ka…nai aisa nahi tha….mene na abhi kuch din pehle hi ek dosre blog per bht detail se indono ka comparision kia tha yani Adeel aur Ashar ka….ab woh sub dobara likhne ki himmat nai bt woh comment apne agle comment main copy paste ker dongi k mjhe Adeel Ashar se behter kion lagta hai…halank dono kamzoor mard the..bt still…

            • @Aiman sorry if it came across like that. I didnt mean u were saying jisme maaf kerne ki takkat nahi woh ‘BURI’ya kamzoor hai etc. I was just saying generally keh, by constantly sending only one msg out (i.e. a forgiving aurat is a stronger aurat), ”our dramas” are (almost) exploiting this issue & confusing our society by creating this new (false) standard… so yes, I’m blaming our dramas here 🙂

      • @Aiman:mera pora comment fana ho gaya hai 😦 akhir qasoor kia tha just wanted to give you some friendly suggestions..kher.. acha ji to my comments are fun to read. same compliment aap ki vocabulary ko milna chahiay. abhi to main “shuck wali biryani” “2 by 2 ki akul” ko enjoy ker rahi thee. here comes another one “lunghi dance of words” kia amazing talent paya hai. simply wow 🙂
        RE:Student’s thesis i agree bohat lengthy aur time consuming hai. lekin aap itni heavy reading avoid kerna chahayn. to page 65 per CONCLUSION naam kay chapter main sari research summarize ker dee gaye hai. sirf wo perr ker bhi achi khasi understanding mil jati hai 🙂
        RE:our obsession with indian dramas well i was almost dying to discuss this point with you in detail. lekin main wait ker rahi thi kay sz kay respond kernay kay baad aap say baat karon. actually aap nay in dramas ko mention ker kay bohat see sweet memories taza ker deen. aur son pari to bari cute thee meri most favourite 🙂 mera childhood ptv kay classics dekhtay guzraa. after completing my university degree main nay gher main announce ker diya aaj say meri life tv kay liay waqf hai 😉 lekin problem yai tha ptv ab wo qualitative aur standard ki entertainment provide nahi ker raha tha jo modern age ki requirements aur demands ko fullfil ker sakay. ptv kay ilawa kuch private news channels thay ab news bhi kkitni dekhan. to indian dramas per lag gaye. next 4-5 years main nay kitna tv dekha hai you can not even imagine. yai share ker kay actually ensure kerna chahti hoon kay i can completely understand your POV kiun k yai sab main nay bhi experience kia hai. ab oos boaht hi valid point kee terf atay han jo aap nay apnay comment main raise kia hai aur meray aap say baat kernay ki reason bana. insaan kay ander behter say behter ki terf safer kernay ki ability hai sirf opportunity milnay kee baat hai. aesthetic sense/taste easily kharab ho jata hai lekin kharab honay kay baad phir thik bhi ho jata hai. depend kerta hai aap oos ko develop kernay kay liay kon saa content provide ker rahay han. high quality yaa low quality. ek dafa main nay apnay teacher say poocha tha yai zoq e saleem kaisay develop kia jata hai yaa god gifted hota hai. he said qualitative literature pernay say aap iss ko develop kren. sorry main bilkul apa jaan ban rahi hoon. lekin mera point yai hai ager aap nay apni life kay 20 years ek raod map ko follow kertay guzaran han. to zarori nahi next 30 years bhi usi tra guzaran. jab kay aap nay realize ker liya hai kay aap ghalti per thay. main nay ye decision 7 years pehlay lia aur indian content ka boycott ker kay pk dramas ki terf ayi. ab ager mujhay yahan bhi qualitative entertainment nahi milti main wo dramas nahi dekhti. lekin khud realize ker kay yai awareness dosray logon tak pohchani hai. jis ki effort hum sab yahan ker rahay han. aur main bohat khush hoon gi. ager aap bhi humain join kren gi. sorry pta nahi kia kia likh diya yai comment delete honay ka reaction hai kiun kay pehla wala comment itna lamba nahi tha

        • @RJ: Apologies .. I have been caught up with a variety of things so haven’t had a chance to respond at length to the very valid points raised here.. will have my response up soon, IA…
          So sorry to know your comment got lost ! I dont know where it went b/c it wasn’t in spam or trash .. I myself hate typing so feel your pain 😦 But glad that you rewrote it!
          Milte hain break ke baad 🙂

        • @RJ sorry for late rpl..yaar main ne arsa howa ID dekhna chor dia hai…nt bcuz k khud se koi wada waghera kia tha Pakistani hine k naate….iss liye chora tha bxuz dil bhar gaya tha baar baar ki shadiyoon aur plastic surgeries se…apne dramas Daam k wakt se dekhti aaragi hoon..usse pehle bhi dekhti thi Geo k soaps wagera…yaani dekhti zaror thi apne dramas… upar sirf ek general baat kari thi apne upar rakh kar…thnks itne pyare rpl k liye…

  23. @RJ, thank you very much for your kind words and the in-depth analyzation. You have given some very valid points. For clarity purpose, I am from Tanzania (union of Tanganyika + Zanzibar) which is in East Africa. My forefathers were from India before the partition and therefore the Indian dialects most commonly spoken in East Africa were Gujarati and Kutchi. East Africa was ruled by Britain, schooling was in English and the native language is Swahili, hence my comment that Urdu is not my mother tongue. However watching Pakistani dramas and talking to my Pakistani friends in Urdu (with a request to correct me), I am getting better and InshaAllah one of these days I will not need the language tool on Google. Incidentally I bought my ZGH DVD’s from East Africa.

    @FA, a fantastic response.

    @aiman, most of the guests might be living outside of Pakistan but that has no bearing on the discussion. Malala fought for the rights of the girls’ education while in Pakistan.

    • Thanks for sharing..Yes we see our channels cashing up on trends..& the current trend seems to be psychological issues..(including mental retardation, lol). I remember we got trigger happy with Express telefims and dr jahanara, but abb when every second play is the same the subject has lost its charm.. but anyway, the roti dhoti aurat seems to be a a classic trend in our desi dramas.. never out of fashion lol

  24. Mein stabd hoon aur nishabd hoon, that is all I will say. Thank you for a very compelling and timely review of women in our dramas.

  25. That was a fascinating read, SZ! Thank you for sharing this again for the newbies among us.

    I also read all the commentary here with great interest. It was nice (as always) to have HKB weigh in with her insider’s perspective. She brings up a really important point: people will always remember a compelling character and/or plot regardless of TRPs and demographics.

    That brings me to something else I’ve been mulling over, not just with respect to PK television and Bollywood, but also with respect to Hollywood and English-language television and film. Lately, writing, direction and sometimes even acting seem to have become secondary to production, i.e. an old story repackaged into a glitzier and more glamorous package will sell much better than a brand new story.

    That is, content producers may be wrong about what we want to watch, but they’re not wrong about how we want the content to look.

    Case in point: I recently watched both Ab Tum Ja Saktey Ho and Putli Ghar. Both were excellent in terms of writing and acting, but even making concessions for the era, the production value was extremely low. Both were shot indoors in cramped areas with bad camera angles and not the best lighting, there’s barely any background music/sound, and both shows have a really low budget (even slightly chintzy feel) to them.

    The shows stood out though because (a) they were really well acted/directed, and (b) they were really short. If either of these teleplays had been our modern 27-episode dramas, the viewers would have lost interest around Episode 3. I think this was also one of the many problems with Numm. That show tried to get viewers to relate to a transgressive relationship, but presented it in an old-fashioned sort of way without the glitz and glamour we’re now conditioned to expect from TV dramas. So naturally, most viewers either didn’t get it or were completely bored by it. (Yes, my crusade to turn Numm into an underrated cult classic is still ongoing, lol).

    Hum TV has obviously got this recipe all figured out. Take an old saas-bahu plot, ensure good production values, add a healthy dose of romance and some old-school charm, and voila, Humsafar! The producers banked on people just eating that stuff up, and boy did they ever.

    So, viewers clearly want hatke content (as do actors and writers), but viewers also want it to be pretty and glamorous with great sound mixing and high productions values. How to reconcile these apparently irreconcilable interests? More telefilms and short plays maybe? A good idea, even presented in a less-than-pretty package, is something viewers can tolerate in small doses, I bet. A Sang-e Mar Mar can’t really be condensed to 2-3 hours, but many other shows can and probably should be much shorter than they really are.

    (I need to learn how to write shorter comments!)

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