Abhi kal hi ki baat lagti hai jab I sat down to pen a goodbye 2013 post, where disillusioned as I was with the year past I had high hopes for a better, brighter 2014. I was looking forward to a year filled with original content representing out of the box thinking, honest stories, memorable serials, breakout stars, waghaira, waghaira ….
That was then ….
Now 365 days later, as I write this wrap up 2014 post tau aisey lagta hai ke yeh poora saal palak jhapktay guzar gaya…
I use this term “in the blink of an eye” very deliberately. Deliberately because I want to underscore the fact that much like its predecessor 2014 too was pretty much a washout year. As I look back I see a seamless continuation from 2013 to 2014. Be it in terms of the number of utterly forgettable serials, dragged out stories, formula based plots, same faces playing musical chairs on various channels in various dramas, garish sets, overly made-up actors, tasteless costumes, ear-splitting background scores, and last but not the least glycerine overuse, we saw it all, repeated and reiterated, and in greater numbers than before.
2014 was also marked by the continued mazloomiyat of our desi heroine. If 2013 was the year of the betiyon ki majboor amma and the bechari larki, whose sole purpose in life was to get married, then 2014 was the year of the mazloom pehli biwi. No matter how good a wife the first woman might be – cooking for him, removing his shoes, keeping the house in order (everything Rafia said a good wife ought to do!) – the shohar was still gonna go find himself a doosri biwi. Neighbor, co-worker, a very young cousin, koi bhi chalegi.
Hamdardi, madad and majboori were the operative words used used by TV land shohars to justify and rationalize their wandering eye and infidelity: Kiya karta aur koi rasta na tha, amma ne majboor kiya, bechari ko saharey ki zaroorat thi, main us ki madad karn chahta tha, main us se hamdardi kar raha tha ...
If by some odd quirk of fate our girl did somehow manage to find herself a faithful shohar, then the poor guy was given no other choice but to die. But wait, that’s not the end of the story. Sahab khud tau guzar gaye but before doing so didn’t forget to leave behind a wife who was pregnant and/or the unfortunate recipient of his hissay ki jaidad. I have never seen this happen as organically or regularly in the real world, but somehow these reality based dramas always have a handily available shohar ka bhai – married, unmarried doesn’t matter. Phir whether he likes it or not this bhai steps in to the marhoom’s shoes and gives sahara to the bechari bhabhi and does madad. Again, note the use of bechari, sahara and madad.
I have no clue where in the real world does such a helpless twit of a twat aurat exist, but in TV land she thrives, aur woh bhi dankey ki choat pe. And why shouldn’t she? Given how much her tears are worth in terms of hard cash this dukhi aurat is least bothered by what you and I think. Critique her and she sobs that much more loudly: HUM jaisa koi nahin!
I’ve been covering dramas for a while now and have seen many trends come and go, magar in bechari behenjis ki tau koi aisi mazloomiyat hai ke khatam hi honay ko nahin aati! AR[a]Y bibi, jaan choro … Geo aur jeeney do!!
Thanks to international channels like Zee Zindagi, our local channels going global, and good ‘ole YouTube, our dramas are now watched across the world. I shudder at the thought of what the international audiences make of this bechari mazloom helpless Pakistani aurat. Earlier I used to joke about this but seems it is high time that we – the real Pakistani women – stood up and made ourselves heard:
Yeh Hum Nahin
In addition to continued trends, 2014 also saw the introduction of some really hatke ideas. Different as in pehley na kabhi dekhin na sunein aisi baatein, magar thanks to hamarey reality-based dramas hum ne is saal kaafi kuch seekha. Here’s a sampling in no particular order:
- Nosebleeds + unexplained body rashes + migraines = AIDS
- If you wanna be considered a fashion forward gal then your wardrobe must match the furniture.
- Keeping folded laundry in closets and dressers is very old school. New trend: Under the bed, behind the couch, in the oven, behind the frozen meats in the freezer….
- If and when watching dramas, keep earplugs, :cool:, SPF 90 sunscreen, and a chatri on hand … kiya maloom kab kis ki zaroorat par jaye
- If you thought Pakistan was a poor country then I have good news for you. Stop fikar-ing about our socio-economic situation. These reality based dramas tell us we are not poor and also ensure no one will ever again mistake us for a Third World country... kabhi dekhey hain kisi ghareeb mulk mein aisey thaat?
- If you would like to be counted amongst the rich then know it is not nearly enough to wear diamonds at lunch, gift Mercs, dress like a Christmas tree, have an indoor pool, and sleep in monogrammed pjs on satin sheets. No. You will be considered rich in this naya Pakistan only if you have ba-wardi servers… aur woh bhi agar dau dau hon tau kiya hi baat hai!
- If you are a guy looking to make a good first impression on your honay wali susral then wear nothing less than the blingiest, gaudiest sherwani in your wardrobe.
- If you want to check your future samdhis‘ financial situation don’t bother with their bank statements. Bas go visit their house. Remember, primary colored furniture in prospective groom’s bedroom (no paisa to update decor), money-plant vines (hoping in vain plants will bring money) and honay waley samdhi ji wearing ill-fitting checked pajamas, all point to impending bankruptcy. Most eligible bachelor or not, think hard before joro-ing a rishta there!
- If you think you’re lucky to have a lovey dovey shohar sahab then BEWARE! Get ready, prepare yourself kyonke a sautan is just round the corner (think Shukk and Doosri Biwi).
- If a grown woman has a chest filled with puraney khilone and jars full of glitter under her bed, not only talks to fish but wants to be one as well, and doesn’t know how to use a cell phone keep away from her! Bewa bhabhi or not, such Allah miyan ki gayes are not worth any sane person’s time (think Muhabbat Subh ka Sitara …. bechara Zeeshan!)
- If you are considering two Amreekan rishtas for your ladli beti, donon restaurant owners and both equal on paper, then base your choice on their geographical location. Simply put, if the guy’s in Florida he can afford a huge lakefront mansion, have no real job but still afford a fancy car, and beti ji will hang around with artists (so what if they paint ugly pictures!). If, on the other hand, the larka is based in New York tau phir aap ki ladli beti will end up walking everywhere, will hang out with cabbies and live in a modest apartment in a nondescript building. Don’t believe me? Check out Firaaq and Jackson Heights … farq saaf zahir hai!
This, my friends, was only a sampling of the kinds of important stuff I learnt from our reality based dramas this year. Feel free to share your favorite dramas, other trends you noticed, or life lessons you picked up from these dramas.
Note: I repeatedly used the term “reality based” because this is our dramas’ claim to fame, their USP. Ab yeh sab kis ki reality hai is a question I ask of the drama industrialists – the content heads, producers, channel heads, big bosses. I would love for some bigwig to shed light on this pressing question.
Even as the three big channels churned out one mediocre serial after another, they did come up with a few that kept us interested. Sannata, Pyarey Afzal, Bunty I Love You, garnered quite a following, but they too were victims of dragging at some point or the other. Shukk was another one that started off really well but lost its way really badly around the 17/18 episode mark. Stretched beyond comprehension Shukk ended up as a huge disaster.
And how can I talk of disasters and not mention Firaq. This, ladies and gentlemen, introduced a whole new trend in the history of Pakistani drama serials: Buy One Get One Free. Ji, bilkul! The story we fell in love with and the characters we felt for, all disappeared somewhere along the line and we suddenly found ourselves watching a whole other story with new set of characters and their issues.
Amidst all the good bad and ugly that was dished out by the big three channels, credit goes to a smaller, lesser known channel for producing the gem of the year. Aired on APlus, produced by Seema Razi and Raziuddin Ahmed, written by Bee Gul and directed by Khalid Ahmad, Pehchan was, in my humble opinion, hands down the best serial of the year.
Jackson Heights on Urdu1, written by Vasay Chaudhry, directed by Mehreen Jabbar and produced by Six Sigma Plus, is another one on a newer channel that gets my vote, but since it is still airing I will withhold my comment on that.
This then, fellow DRNR-ers, was my take on the year that was. Here’s to hoping for a better year ahead.
As we count down the next year lets not forget the less fortunate and say a prayer for all those no longer with us. May the next year be a peaceful one, not only in Pakistan but throughout the world. Wishing you all a safe, happy, healthy and prosperous 2015.
Written by SZ~