Qissa [Dramon Ki] Kahani Ka

creative_writingCouple of years ago I remember watching an episode of the Nadia Khan Show where she highlighted the sorry state of the food industry. The unhygienic conditions of restaurant kitchens, unhealthy stuff added in indiscriminately, expired sauces and stale vegetables  – you name it and our public eateries – fast food joints, caterers, even five stars kitchens – were breaking every kind of industry standard that ever existed. I think it took me about at least a couple of months before I could be convinced to eat out, and fast food remains a no-no for me even today. Of all the horrific things they discussed, the two anecdotes that have stuck with me ever since  are:  a) waiters/young boys scraping off leftover meat pieces from used plates, collecting them in a bag and handing them back to kitchens where they were re-used the next day, and b) doing the same with soft drinks, i.e., collecting leftover sodas in bottles (after a wedding for instance), filling them in used bottles, resealing them and passing these off as “fresh” “new” bottles.

No, I haven’t gone crazy and this is still a blog about Pakistani dramas. I purposely began with a reference to that particular episode of Nadia Khan’s show because the recent spate of dramas, bar a few exceptions, all seem like a cut paste of each other – old wine in not-so-new bottles. Not only do we have formulas at work, but if a particular twist works for one hit serial, then tau bas! Rest assured we will see at least five hundred if not more rip offs featuring a similar if not the exact same spin. It is no longer about telling an honest story about the human condition. No. Now its all about thrills and which serials offers the most – the race for TRPs is on. The story and its writer are dead, long live the ratings.

Take for instance the new serial Nazdikiyan airing on ARY. Apart from filling up a time slot what other purpose was this serial serving? What is it showing that we haven’t seen before. Yes, the broader plot line, as noted on the official Facebook page, may be about watta satta (exchange marriages) and its evils, but what we actually see in the first episode is a haphazard mishmash of things ‘borrowed’ from popular, rather so called hit serials as per TRP charts, all randomly thrown together and given that much more tarka and presented as a brand new project.


If one of the most popular serials in recent times (as per TRPs) Aasmanon Pe Likha had a shaadi in the first episode, then here we see it times three. Yes, as if one miserable shaadi was not enough, we have three siblings getting married here. Misery brings high ratings so why not have it times three? Imagine teen auratein aik saath dukhi hongi tau kitni ziyada rating aayegi… and, if they were to all cry with big huge tears all the more better, nahin?

Remember Humsafar? Remember Sara’s suicide? Remember the impact that had? Well if a suicide could do the trick for Humsafar, imagesphir yahan kyon nahin? And why not go one better and put that in the first episode? Tau bas, our rejected pyar ki maari swallows a whole pack of pills and dharaam! The pills are barely down our dukhiyari’s throat and she is down for the count. Wah! what an entertaining episode! Maza aaya? Nahin? Chalo koi gal nahin

If you’re not warmed up as yet, let’s add in a handicapped older sister, jis ka rishta nahin ho raha tha, her poor brother, therefore, had no choice but to agree to this watta satta and sacrifice his love (remember our suicidal Sara wannabe?) So now we have a langri (they call her that in case you missed her obviously faltering steps), dukhi behen. And, if you haven’t connect the dots as yet, her zindagi after shaadi will be even dukhi-er. To ensure that you totally get the point of her  character she repeats it at least three four times: shaadi ka doosra naam hai compromise. Cue the violins

With shaadis galore could saas bahu jhagras be far behind? Rest assured, from the constant tantrums it is easy to deduce there will be plenty of chakh chakh to come. Seems like the makers knew all too well that their story, if you can call it that, had nothing to sustain audiences’ interest, hence their lame efforts to cobble together as many ‘thrills’ as they possibly could, agar ek tuka nahin laga tau doosra tau lag hi jayega.


In case you think I am nitpicking on one drama its not that. This malaise is spread across this board. Let’s take the example of Muhabbat Ab Nahin Hogi, which aired from HUM TV. Airing twice a week this serial was a literal smorgasbord of thrills. Again, following the “formula for success” we had a shaadi right away and things were hunky dory for approximately an episode n a half. From there began a crazy state of affairs which included an unbelievably stupid heroine, an absentee husband, the girl’s interfering mother, an impossibly immature devar, a questionably close relationship between devar and bhabhi.

Not enough for you? No worries, we also had shuk thrown in for good measure. Agar phir bhi maza nahin aaya tau we saw presumed childlessness, pseudo issues with an on-again-off-again hijaab, a miscarriage, an attempted suicide, an interfering nand, a runaway wife, an almost rape, a car accident, … you get my drift. It is all about plot twists. String a sufficient amount of thrills together and you have yourself a serial. Firaaq is the latest entrant in this list, displaying a similar let’s-cover-all-our-basis approach to story-telling.


Where Nadia Khan’s show did rattle a few cages and reportedly instigated change, I have no illusions about this piece making any ripples. Regardless of reception, I firmly believe this issue – demise of the story – is something that needs serious consideration. While these thrill laden serials might make money in the short run, what are their prospects in the long run? Why is it that despite being low on production values serials from the 70’s and 80’s are still fondly remembered? Haseena Moin’s Tanhaiyan, AnkahiDhoop Kinarey did not boast crazy twists, foreign locations or fancy designer wardrobes but they worked, and how!


Even in more recent times, serials like Daam are still remembered fondly. Why? Mehreen Jabbar did not shoot that one in NYC, neither did she have a huge budget, but it still made its mark. Why is Vasl still a good one to recommend to friends? Why do we still talk about telefilms like Ghoonghat or Shanakht? Why is Aunn Zara so beloved? Why do I watch Talkhiyan again n again? What of Shehr-e Zaat or Humsafar or a Zindagi Gulzar Hai?

The answer is quite simple – story, the writing. A solid script, not a formula, mind you, is the basis of all good serials. Yes, directors, actors, production values, all make a huge impact, but nobody can make something out of nothing. Good actors cannot infuse life into non-existent, uni-dimensional characters. How is a director supposed to bring to life a string of thrills?


People-in-charge: I get that TRPs are the be all and end all for you guys, but please don’t turn our justifiably praised drama serial into a joke. The reason why our dramas garner global viewership is because of their strong stories. It is mind-boggling to think that at a time when we should be looking to further strengthen our already strong suit, we are being remarkably short-sighted and focusing on the here and now. Why are we fiddling around with the one surefire formula for success – the story!


I get that channels make more money from a serial with 20+ episodes, but surely they know better than me that not all stories can be stretched to accommodate this very corporate demand. Stories are not cars that take shape on an assembly line, built to satisfy an industry standard. Every story is an individual piece of creative art, one best left to the whims of artists involved as to the how and when it should end. What is the point of dragging stories when you have nobody left to watch? Jackson Heights is the latest victim of this approach.


Call me naive if you may, but surely a shorter serial with strong, committed viewership works better in the long run, no? Please don’t turn our very talented writers into mindless automatons expected to string together a series of events that not only cross the 20 episode limit but must also encompass at least six or seven of the now requisite issues: saas-bahu, rape, sexual abuse, physical abuse, hijaab, extra marital affairs, two wives, mehram/na-mehramshuk, terminal disease or two, betiyaan bojh hain, and so on and so forth.

Dear people-in-charge: Yes, admittedly I too hit the ffwd button when a scene drags on forever and the story is at a standstill, but does that mean that I want a thrill a minute? NO, I DO NOT. All I’m asking for is to stop the dragfest. As a dedicated viewer of your drama serials I am begging you to credit your audience with a semblance of intelligence. Trust me, we can distinguish between a logical progression of events and a random cut-paste of five or six of our favorite dramas, a blatant plagiarism of a popular Bollywood film, or a copy of a StarPlus serial. Take pity on us and don’t ask our highly respected and talented writers to write chhapaas. These writers have produced more than enough gems of their own, why then are we asking them to borrow others’ work?


At this point it may seem like I am crying out of turn, particularly when our serials are doing so well across the border and conquering new markets globally. But the way I see it, this is precisely the time to pause and re-evaluate. Rather than doing it after, why not shut the stable door before the horse bolts?

Written by SZ~

34 replies

  1. Huge round of applause..
    U said it all SZ!
    I think one basic reason is innumerable private channels.. With so many channels at one time, obviously v will get more “fillers” than the real dramas..
    R u watching “Digest writer”? They have brought up this issue beautifully.. Khalid ahmad sahb playing a classic writer who is not ready to compromise on quality writing..


    • @Atty Im not following DW.. Im not a fan of SQ and find it very difficult to digest her.. but watched a few scenes with KA chalte phirte that caught my attention. Dil ki bharas nikal gaee wahan bhi lol.. A few scenes i did mangae to gulp, it was interesting to see the writers perspective.. ie how she is writing about all the stuff she fantasize about : fancy food, luxury pens, exotic destinations.. things she cant even dream about … thanks to google… And I was thinking how many times have we watched dramas and felt that it seemed disconnected with reality.. esp dramas made abroad, where we see a larger than life mansion, and a lifestyle that only one can dream about..


  2. V well said SZ. I hope you’ve sent a copy of this to the channel heads as well.
    Admittedly I can still see (and enjoy) the repititive themes if done well but the recent dragging of events is getting really boring. Generally 15-20 eps is enough to tell a story….can’t take no more!


  3. Thanks to Nadeekiyan, we got our dil ki awaz out – hopefully to be heard far and wide!!! Its gotta be so bad ke kia kia yaad aa gya (yuck!!!) aur dil ki bharas nikal gaee.. lol Joke aside, a huge round of applause for penning down the saga!!

    Totally with you, that bechara writer seems to be MIA these days, when we are getting all these charbas of charbas of the formulas recycled, and bad ones at that! The director and actors can only do so much to support or even enhance a story, but if there is no base to build upon its bound to fail! prime example: Ahista ahista.. The team tried to flesh out a dead story but it fell on its face.. HS and SeZ, and even ZGH may not have been great stories to start off with but they had enough substance to create something phenomenal out of it!

    btw i heard ke Daagh stole all the nominations for lux awards.. i mean that just goes to show kia haal ho gya hai!

    one last point.. recently read an article about formulas for successful tv dramas in the UK, and it mentioned how certain dramas did very well with critics but failed to get the raitings it had anticipated. and that ”its as if there are two types of television drama success. In the broadsheets, the shorthand is ‘award-winning’; in the tabloids shorthand is ‘big rating’.. Unfortunately we dont have those measurables back home. We only really rely on a very questionable TRP system to define success (thanks to SZ for sharing her research on TRPs)… no wonder dramas like Daagh get all the nominations where gems like Talkhiyan gets side-lined… a very sorry state of affairs indeed!


  4. Ohhhh! That hurt! Just two weeks ago, I broke down in tears because after suffering 6 awful (read clichéd, hackneyed, characterless) scripts, I was now reading the 7th. Had I been reduced to this? Is this what I became an actor for? I gave up my show as an anchor because channels do not want sensible, thought provoking content. As an actor I thought I could entertain the viewers through sensible, thought provoking or simply feel-good content. Now what?? Feedback from India tells me how much Aunn Zara, Humsafar, ZGH are being loved. They are calling Ishq Gumshuda a “hidden gem” all these years later. But some years from now what will our channels and production houses sell?? That’s what they need to think about!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • @Hina Khwaja Bayat Oh no! I am always on the look out for your projects because they usually prove themselves to be good, meaningful projects.. HS, ZGH and AZ, even Talkhiyan.. you were a part of all these.. what an accomplishment! Abb if you are shedding tears reading scripts tou seems like there is another very dry spell up ahead! Sigh!
      Btw we r still talking about your heart-touching work in MeJ on another thread and I am absolutely loving u in Gar Maan Reh Jaye! Thats another hidden gem indeed!


    • @Hina Khwaja Bayat: ahhh if i as a viewer can feel so sad and dishearted on seeing such poor quality of dramas.. Can only imagine what you must be going through.. How true we are left with just handful of quality dramas to be channelized across the border.. Recently projects arent worth enough..

      I agree with @FA totally that your all work has been superlative.. MeJ was something i can never forget only because of Hajra.. She made me cried when i used to read novel and but when i saw drama that Hajra hands down was more amazing than my thoughts.. Cried double with Hajra 🙂 and loving you as Khursheeda begum too


    • @Hina Khwaja Bayat, I am a relatively new fan of yours from India. Coincidentally, it was only today whilst watching HS on Zindagi channel that I was telling my family that I really like you n was pleasantly surprised to see your comment here.
      You were there in both the serials i.e ZGH(my personal favourite) n Aunn Zaara, the first two serials Zindagi channel treated Indian audience to. You played a mother in both but with a difference in your looks as well as portrayal of your characters having extremely opposite lifestyles. You were quite convincing in both n that is when I became your fan.

      We were discussing Mata-e-Jaan on another thread n my friends from Pakistan highly recommended it. I was anyways going to watch it but now that I know you were also a part of it, I will watch it even sooner.

      To be very honest, I didn’t really enjoy Ishq Gumshuda but thats just my personal opinion.


      • @Samrita: MeJ was a mixed bag, and more on that when you watch it, but one thing you can def bank on is Hina’s Hajra. Wont say much but you have to watch this one for her!


    • Hello HInaji . I am a big fan of yours. I enjoy watching your dramas . And specially one interview of FASIH UR REHMAN . That was wonderful. After that I haven’t seen him on any Pakistani channel. He is such a talented artist. I can go on and on .


    • @Hina: Lovely as always to hear from you 🙂 And thank you for always telling it like it is … Yes, seeing the latest spate of dramas I can totally imagine the kind of scripts you are reading and I truly do feel for you … ab bas aap aur hum log mil kar ek apna production house khol lete hain …

      Waisey, perhaps we dont really need a production house, how about we send Khursheeda begum to go read the riot act to these channel walas — what a piece of work that lady is?!? the way she ran rings around that maulvi was amazing, her logic and reasoning was out of this world! Ab I am waiting to see how she weasels her way out this sticky talaaq situation. I think us se ziyada mujh us ke samaan ki tension ho rahi hai? Will she lose everything that Nissa brought in her jahez, all that mehnat for nothing 😱 That review is still pending but just know that we are watching and thoroughly enjoying that ride.


  5. So true SZ. All the stories give a “deja-vu” kind of feeling now. And the channels seem to be ravenous for TRPs. There’s nothing good in content! The reiterative formula has to be: bring in some “rona-dhona” and there goes the rating. :-p Taubah. And now there’s a new trend coming on the forefront, where husband goes into occultation and everyone’s left wondering if he died or just got kidnapped for a lifetime, and then he shows up after years of gallons of glycerin consumption. :-p It was there in Mann ke Moti and now Do saal ki aurat and Mehram too probably.
    There’s the other one I’m too tired of- that’s the best money-churning technique after Asmaano pe Likha. Unprecedented events leading to marriage on the very first episode either forcibly or out of goodwill, and then the protagonist regrets doing it… It’s mostly with someone from a different social background. (current example: Aap ki kaneez and Iqraar) Aisa kahaan hota hai bhayee?!?! Bus kar dain ab… Drama makers should come up with some new and plausible content please! Warnaah apnay paaon pe khudi kulhaari maar rahain hain yeh. :-S


  6. That was a much needed reality check for all those people who take us as audience for granted.. Thank you Sz for writing this and also letting us to vent out our frustrations and disappointments..

    I love your analogy to sad affairs of dramas now a days.. How true is that.. We just see some senseless and unlogical tracks or issues.. Which are not good at all in giving us the food of thought or some good entertainment.. Abhi recently watched Tum Mere Hie Rehna.. And all they were talking about shaadi shaadi.. Cmon guys get a grip.. Banda pagal hojaye itna rona aur shadi k lye aahain bharte dekh dekh kar.. And in comparasion to this i watched drama Pehchaan by Mehreeb Jabbar last night.. And it was simply outstanding.. All issues were so relevant and address so apt fully.. No khich khich of saas bahu, extra marital affair, rona dhona.. Direct baat no bakwas.. Watching that drama made me think yes these are real people like us, you get motivated by strong minded women and get entertainted at same time.. And just 13 episodes.. Amazing i must say..

    And now 13 tou choro 23 episodes bhi khwab lagte hain.. 30 episodes tak tou logon ko bezaar karain nahin tou faida itna paisa and energy zayaa karne ka… And when u get no quality drama, you will obviously go for some oldie goldie dramas.. Lekin vo bhi kab tak.. Our channel heads think we are no brainers.. Jo dikhaya hansi khushi Bina samjhe dekh lya.. I really hope they get this thing this time.. Or else we have to again wait for something as turnful as Humsafar 😦

    The writers are pressurized so badly.. They are not even independent to play with their story or characters how they want to… Sab kuch sahi se likh lya.. Every character got a logical end but na bhayee khincho story ko.. Character bichara khtm hojaye who cares about that.. These TRPs ke shashke dramas ko sadly enough waisa he kardainge jaisa starplus k dramas…


    • Rehmat, i have completely stopped watching Star Plus or other Indian entertainment channels bcoz of the non sense stuff they r showing. My bother who is working in Veera serial on Star Plus gets upset with me at times but i am fed up with production houses challenging the audience’s intelligence.

      I hope Pakistani TV industry doesn’t stoop to such levels.


      • @Samrita: i really hope so too..:) To be honest i used to watch Indian dramas alot.. But i too stopped watching seeing no creative or unique concepts and with same old stories getting repeated.. But thats how it goes 🙂


  7. Hello my friends and SZ,

    If it wasn’t for nostalgia, we’d all be so much happier 🙂 Anything that is even a day older seems better.. and maybe in a lot of cases it probably is. I have heard this discussion everywhere – online, sets, make up rooms, meetings etc. And most of the time my nostrils are flaring while having this argument.

    Since we are talking about the dramas of today, let us also talk about the audience and business of this industry today. We have over 15 entertainment channels(not sure of the exact number) on TV today (compared to the one channel that showed Tanhayian in the 80s). We have to fill up hours and hours of programming. Today, more than anything this Industry has become a huge business – a profitable one at that. Actors, directors, writers all seem to be getting into production. This is great – more producers, more money, more job opportunities in this field etc. Only thing – Can art and business go hand in hand? (that is actually the topic what we should debate about).

    Our audience today (world over) wants instant gratification, instant pleasure, instant kick, instant pain and instant relief. We are the I-pad generation, even our parents are adapting to that. This is precisely why we find a 2hr movie a ‘drag’ or ‘too long’, even though just a few years back we were watching 3 hr long films. Our patience is decreasing and thats just the way it is.

    Sorry, I’m going on about this. Point is the more the market expands, the more demand for the product. Which means many more writers, actors, directors, technicians will be coming on board to make sure the supply is ample. Is every writer expected to be an Umera Ahmed? Or every director a Mehreen Jabbar? ( To name a few). This just isn’t possible. Not here, not anywhere.

    There is no denying that there will be an influx of repetitive formula shows but this how it is world over. One show does well and the hangover continues. Trust me its extremely frustrating for me as an actor too. But this is the process. Soon and as always the good will shine (even in the bad products).

    I am not standing up for the bad stuff on TV, but I am standing up for the good and great stuff on TV.


    Mahira Khan.

    p.s Lets be patient, just a little- even with the good serials 🙂


    • @Mahira Hello! First of all let me express my excitement to see u here! Absolutely delighted!!!!

      Really enjoyed your comment. Can art and business go hand in hand? I think they can if we have the right measurables in place. Unfortunately, in Pakistan we are only seem to be measuring the success in terms of business and there isn’t much appreciation for art.

      Re i-pad generation and no time for patience: I’m totally with you, but isn’t that all the more reason for not stretching a very sound 13 eps story to a 30 eps never-ending saga with useless turns and irrelevant twists? I just hope the channel walas realize this!

      Coming back to nostalgia, I must say, really enjoying the ride down the memory lane with Sadqe Tumhare these days. Loved ur Khirad and Falak and loving ur Shano now! Good luck with all your ventures and keep the good stuff coming!


    • This is exactly what i mentioned in my comment above.. Basic problem is increasing number of TV channels..
      But the thing which hurts is when quality work does not get recognised in this rush of dramas, like Pehchan and Talkhiyan dint get their deserved recognition.. Or when good writers r forced to write on some stupid topics because they r thought to gain more TRPs.. Or when quality writers r forced to drag the stories unneccassarily when they dont want to..


    • @Mahira Khan: A Big Helooo 🙂 So great to see your comment.. I totally agree with you being patient on just little good serials but sachi our patience gets tested when out of those few even, some get derailed..

      Certainly more channels means more hours to be filled.. But why quality have to be compromised.. When lots of new talents is coming in.. 🙂

      I extremely love your positivity specially in last few lines 🙂
      Stay blesed..


    • Waah Waah SZ! Aaj tou aap kay iss saf’hay ko baray logon ne ronak bakshi hai. Extremely glad to see both of them here. 😀


    • @Mahira: Sadqay tumhare! Thanks for reading and commenting 🙂 Loved reading your thoughts as an insider and must say it gave me a lot of food for thought. I might not agree completely with you but yes def with you on quite a few of the points you added to our discussion 🙂

      And yes, will try to practice patience — Intezaaring for the good and great stuff to come! 😉


  8. SZ a big thank you for writing this . Aap ne mere manki baat kahi ( did I write correctly ?) . After pehchan only two dramas I am watching . JH and ST . I have not seen any indian serial only one SAANS by nina gupta . Wonderful serial very short and sweet.
    @ Mahira khan . A big Aloha!!!!!!!!!!


  9. SZ!!!!

    U have mirrored my thoughts exactly! Only that mine are reserved for hindi tv shows! Can’t stand them, never watch them and am always lamenting over the lack of good content on Indian tv for thinking women like yours truly ( humility be damned!). Like u, we too look back nostalgically on our golden era of doordarshan when we got top class fare like humlog, buniyaad , tamas, Ramayan, mahabharat , world this week, idhar udhar. The advent of satellite channels and economic growth has turned tv from being an entertainment outlet of the classes to that of the masses. Today, it’s my domestic helper, my cook, my driver and chaukidars wives who are loyalists of these insane saas bahu shows driving their trps. Which is why u have a surfeit of good looking , ramji ki gaye kinda women playing the ideal bahu doing 10 kilo ka Rona dhona everyday on screen gathering sympathy from one and all. The masses live thru them vicariously drawing a weird kind of pleasure from the knowledge that theirs is not the only sorry lot… Look at this PYT being tortured by her MiL and family ( mehhhhh). A good friend who is a leading writer for TV today keeps telling us that we aren’t his target audience n we , the urbane women are far removed from reality so pls get a reality check. He is also of the view point that it’s very easy to look at the west n limited edition dramas such as yours but asks, have we ever considered how tough it is to churn out episodes every day of the week ( almost) year after year n yet ensure the quality doesn’t slide South. It must be tough. But then again , i am starting to see a change here in India with the digitalisation. Our genx doesn’t watch TV. It’s owned by their iPads n iPods. Am hoping digital content wud be the game changer. That it would cater to niche audiences as well as introduce good content back into the industry once again.
    Shud happen soon….. Till then, waiting patiently….


    • very well said Indepgal. We are a very very minuscule portion of the population who want to watch quality dramas. Most of the janta is happy with the bechari aurat and her zulm o sitam. I think even SZ said her friends don’t watch Pakistani dramas because they think it’s below their IQ level to do so. The entertainment industry will always cater to the 95% than the 5%. I do agree with you that we’ll see more independent stuff coming out in the digital landscape similar to Mangoes in the next couple of decades.


  10. Great piece SZ. Hate to say it but you are the IK of the drama industry – nothing will come of it. Look at the plays getting TRPs – the mazloom Masoom bechari aurat is on top of the ratings each week. We have to completely falter and fall down and screw up before we scrape ourselves off and get up again. So enjoy this death of the sensible writer. Once it’s dead and long gone and our dramas become like our movies, someone will think about fixing it. Not sure if we’ll see it during my life time.


  11. @All: First of thank you all for reading what was admittedly a very self-indulgent post, a rant against all the sub standard stuff being aired in the name of entertainment these days. And yes, we are a few, our opinions hold about as much weight and value as a dust mite… but nonetheless, unlike those dust mites, we do have brains.. and hence the frustrations .. so yes @Annie, perhaps that makes me the IK of PK dramas (I’m extremely flattered btw, considering that I grew up collecting his posters and can still rattle off his stats 😉 ) then so be it ..Yes @Mahira, all my ranting aside, I remain an optimist and firmly believe that tabdeeli aayegi and hum dekhenge, to quote Faiz, and who better than Iqbal Bano to sing the anthem for all those of us who question the status quo 🙂

    And now to respond to all the very thoughtful comments – thank you all for always bringing so much to table. All your viewpoints add so much to our discussions – thank you also to Mahira Khan and Hina Bayat for taking time out to not only read but also comment, expressing their thoughts very honestly and sharing their viewpoints with us. Coming as these comments are from those who work on the other side of the screen, these comments mean that much more and make this discussion all the more relevant and real.

    I absolutely agree with the point that @Atty and @Mahira raise, about demand and supply, i.e, the influx of channels, increase of time slots and the resulting pressure to fill those time slots. As @Mahira rightly points out, not every writer can be an Umera nor can every director be a MJ, or a Sarmad or a Haissam …hence not every project can or will be a hit or a super hit nor will it garner the eyeballs that a Dhoop Kinare or a Tanhiyan did. Agreed. You are absolutely right. Let’s stop looking back and move forward because times have changed.

    Also, as @Mahira, @indepgal and @Annie rightly say our Gen X audience is one that has been weaned on instant gratification and a wham bham thank you m’am kind of romance, so here’s my point: why then are we making these 6-9 month long serials???? Surely not for the gen x-ers. or even for those of us who are used to here n now??? If that was the case then we should’ve never gone beyond the 13 ep PTV format, in fact forget about that, why not just gofor episodic serials, like in the West where within an over-arching plotline every ep tells a diff story, which completes within the 40 or so min time slot.. kinda like Kitne Girhain Baqi Hain, or Express Telefilms..?? Why then have we completely done away with the mini-serial format – where a story was completed within 6-7 episodes? Surely, we, the audiences, cannot be blamed for the dragging out of a story-line for 25+ episodes?

    Re: Gen-Xers… another point which is completely ignored by our channels (or at least that is the way it seems to us as audiences) is that we hear talk about younger generation being of a different ilk.. my question is, and I would love for someone from a major channel to come forward and respond, which of the 50001 programs that they put up is targeted towards the younger crowd?? How can we bring in the gen-xers when we are not even recognizing them as an audience, forget about catering to them. If the channels were to be honest enough to own up to it, they are actually only catering to a hypothetical middle aged uneducated woman who lives in a deep dark cave somewhere, who does not watch anything else on her cable except Star Plus and most of all is someone who is not credited with a brain at all…. Where is the programming for children? Or pre-teens, teens and tweens? Are we expecting them to watch serials like Firaaq where nose-bleeds +headaches=AIDS?? Anybody with half a brain would laugh and switch channels …

    Re: Formulas and cliches: Yes, again I agree they exist and you can’t escape them .. in fact one of the best interviews on TUC, IMO, was that of Saba Hameed, who I remember saying something to the effect that there exist only 6 or 7 stories and everybody around the world is basically spinning out various versions, building on these basic stories. What makes the difference is their treatment .. the way they are told and herein lies the creativity of the storytellers: the writer, director, actors, crew all together… and it is the loss of this creativity that I am bemoaning. Humsafar was a tale as old as time, a song as old as rhyme (to quote Disney shamelessly) but it still worked! And I dont need to tell any of us here how it worked 😀

    The other point, and a very valid one again, raised here was that of nostalgia. As I wrote above, yes, I too find those people living in la la land, but here in the case of my larger argument, I honestly think it would be worth a channel head’s time to look back a bit. For afar it might look like indulging in nostalgia, but I would call it learning from the lessons of the past. It was not very long ago, with the influx of cable and dish and whatnot, when we lost our TV audiences to Star Plus and others, and following them blindly our serials too became bad copies of Saas bhi kabhi bahu thee-s..At that point too the industry was forced to un-bury its head from the sand and regroup and go back to the basics … and we had the return of our own home grown PK drama… with a strong story and 16/17 eps … and then came Humsafar … and the landscape changed.

    With more money we not only increased slots, going from Fri/Sat/Sun to everyday, but also increased eps. DeS, SeZ, MeJ, BK, all were less than 20, now we are looking at 30??? I agree at this point there is a shortage of resources – and trust me we see it – Ahsan Khan in every drama, Sanam Saeed in every third, Saba Qamar has two concurrent ones and these are just the ones at the top of heap, forget about the rest who are in every play- here’s my question then: why not have shorter serials .. sab jaldi farigh – hum bhi and creative resources bhi, no? As MJ said, keep it under 17.

    By dragging the serials for 6+ months, while the industry might be making money in the short run, in the long run doesn’t it lose money if the audiences walk away? Forget about art, this model doesn’t even make sense economically. Rather than moving forward, aren’t we then sliding back again to that point where we were before, following in the footsteps of the dragged out Indian soap model and phir as they say and we’ve seen kawa chala hans ki chaal…

    Re: art vs business: Excellent point and yes, def worth discussing …

    Fine, lets have the channels turning out as many cliched and hackneyed serials as they want and make as much money as they want, but then is it asking for too much for the big three channels – Geo, HUM, ARY – to also take the lead and leave at least a slot or two per week open for “artsy” stuff? Not like we are asking for “adult stuff” – no, thats already being churned out in the name of entertainment for the masses. HUM was at the forefront of the revival of drama as they call it, Geo did its part and ARY chipped in with its bit as well. Where are these channels now? Why is it that these three have fallen off the innovation bandwagon and fallen into the rut of predictability and repetition? They are the ones who should be trendsetters, why have they turned into followers?

    The little bit of “good stuff” or call it experimental/artsy whatever, is not coming from the Big Three, but from the smaller channels: Express aired Talkhiyan and now we have Gar Maan Reh Jaaye and Rangbaaz, APlus had Pehchan and Aunn Zara … why is is that I cannot think of anything similarly off beat from HUM? Forget about channels what are the bigger production houses churning out? Hum aired Ullu Baraye Farokht Nahin, but that was not from MD. AnB prides itself on its assembly line approach to drama making. Even actors who say they are sick of doing the same roles, when they go into production they roll out the same old same old .. Fahad M and Ahsan Khan being the latest examples…

    Another point related to dragging and touching on art vs business issue: If there is a drama that seems to be doing well, then lo and behold viewers are immediately punished by dragging it out, by adding in extra tracks, prolonged scenes … Shukk being a prime example of that. Where is the balance here b/w art and business .. lets just have the big three channels be honest and confess they are pretty much out of the art business, it is now all about balancing the P & L margin… So yeah I’m disillusioned for now, but the fact that I am still here talking abt tabdeeli means that somewhere within me I do hold on to a faint flicker of optimism, the hope that change, for the better, is around the corner, dekhen when that happens…

    Most assuredly I have lost all of you by now. Sorry, didnt mean to go on another rant/ramblefest … hopefully it made some sense atleast! Ab bas promise, no more! Waisey, not my fault .. what to do… dragfests dekh dekh kar mujhe bhi lamba lamba likhney ki aadat ho gayi hai 😂

    Finally, before I end … we have Hina and Mahira both here, so at least ek baaar tau banta hai 😜

    Mummy yeh aap kya keh raheen hain!!! 😱😱


    • Really don’t have the energy for this debate anymore! Lol I am just enjoying the couple excellent dramas there are coz even if there were 30 more, I wouldn’t have the time LOL and we can always switch to American tv if we want, let the people who are free and live dramas day and night enjoy their saas Bahu I mean are the really busy professionals or people with kids and busy lives even watching 20 dramas a week?!? But nice points from everyone and lovely to hear fromMahira and Hima!
      But thx for the lovely clip even though it takes me into depression , but all those jokes about her certainly brings a smile now !


  12. OMG Mahira kaa comment….ye main kia dekh rahi hoon aur mujhay kisi nay bataya tak nahi…kabhi maaf nahi karoon gi…oh no “wo aye …aa k chalay bhi gai…milay bhi nahi nahin”…bad luck 😦 …

    nice article SZ..lekin SK ki tra mujh main ab itni himmat bhi nahi rahi k iss topic per kuch boloon..is waqt tou waisay hi down hoon… lekin aap sub ki guftagu enjoy ker rahi hoon 🙂 …phir main aap logon ki tra well informed bhi nahi about dramas..jin dramas kaa ziker aap nay article main kia sirf firaq dekha hoa hai…is liay apni terf say kuch add bhi nahi ker sakti


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