Alphabet Soup ~ The ABCs of Pakistani Dramas V


Just as chicken soup is not just chicken and water thrown together in a pot and cooked till it becomes mush, a good drama is a lot more than just the story of the hero and heroine. Just like vegetables and spices add much needed texture and flavor to chicken soup hamarey goody two shoes hero heroine stand out and shine because of the tarka added by the cast of colorful characters that surround them.

It is these characters and the situations they create that allow our lead pair to shine. Think about it, fabulous as FsXboAshar and Khirad were, wouldn’t they have been plain boring and sappy had there not been a Farida and her evil machinations to spice up their love story? Would Aunn and Zara have ever gotten together were it not for their crazy family members driving them nuts? Wan’t Talkhiyan as much Mama ji, Apo and Janoo baba’s story as it was BibiJaanu and her bachas‘ story?

Where characters are a crucial element of any story, many times it is the actors who play these roles that make a world of difference. It is the nuance, that special something they add to the written part that elevates a character from being yet another run of the mill ammi abba naani daadi phupho khala and making it something memorable. Remember naani from Shehr-e Zaat?  It was a fabulously written and directed role, but it was Samina Peerzada who made this hqdefault (3)grandmother truly special. Same goes for Nasreen Qureshi as the firecracker of a daadi in Aunn Zara. What about Shamim Hilali and Mohammed Ahmed as Nusrat and Mutma’in in Coke Kahani? They could’ve easily been yet another uncle aunty, but there was that undefinable something about this pair that made me wanna invite myself over for chai at their house. And of course how I can image_1I not mention Hina Bayat and her recent take on Khala Khursheeda – simply brilliant!

Alongside these much loved performances, there is also a very special class of actors who very seldom get public  acknowledgment and applause for their outstanding work. This is not because they don’t stand out, rather, this is teamwork business concept - cube and blocks’cause like chameleons they become the character, leaving behind no trace of their real selves. They are like the building blocks, unnoticeable till one block falls out and the entire building collapses. So good are they at what they do that many a times the audiences don’t even know their real names or remember their previous appearance, but mention the character and but of course we all remember. Rashid Farooqui, Salim Mairaj, mainissue_5Khalid Ahmad, Rehan Sheikh, Adnan Shah Tipu, and more recently Adnan Jaffar, are all brilliant character actors.

The late Moin Akhtar and Bushra Ansari and Hina Dilpazeer are three actors who also fall into the category of character actors, but their impressive list of memorable out-of-the-box performances puts them in a class all their own.

Finally, rounding out the category of character actors are one actor and two actresses, who, in my opinion, are beyond the definitions of class, type and category.  No matter what role they play, whether as a part of an ensemble cast or as the solo lead, be they  be playing old or young, rich or poor characters  – all this simply ceases to matter. At the end of the day its all about their performance. They command the screen and while they are in the frame you J1simply cannot look elsewhere. Yes, peeps, these are none other than Sania Saeed, Nimra Bucha and Nouman Ijaz.

Nouman Ijaz is one of those performers jin ka naam hi kaafi hai. Fans of Jackson Heights and Bhatti sahab know exactly what I’m talking about. His Aao Kahani Buntay Hain (with Sania), Mera Saeen, Rihaee, Ullu BarayeSS Farokht Nahin, count among some of my favorite Nouman Ijaz serials. Similarly, Sania Saeed is Sania Saeed – have no adjectives to describe her work. From her Ab Tum Ja Saktey Ho, Aahat, Kahaniyan, Numm, Aseerzadi to her most recent Kithay Nain Na JoriN video, she has no saani.

Nimra Bucha is another actress whose work always leaves me in awe. There is a kind of a thehrau (don’t know how else to describe itabout her and her acting that I absolutely love. Most people know Nimra from Daam, [the horrible] Mera Yaqeen, Sabz Pari Laal Kabootar, Ek Nazar Meri Taraf, and Bandi, but it isNB3 in telefilms that she really shines. For those who haven’t watched these, I would highly recommend Ghar Aur Ghata, Firdous Ki Dozakh, Tum Mujh Mein Zinda Ho, and Tamasha Mere Aagey, to name just a few.

Yes, I’m shamelessly biased and anything from these three is an automatic must-watch in my book.

Khair, kahan se kahan baat chali gayi! I began by drawing your attention to the fact that though most conversation tend to revolve around the hero and heroine, there is a lot more that goes into making a story work. So lets take this opportunity and pay tribute,  if you will, to these unsung characters and performances. I invite you to share your favorite character, one that has stuck with you since forever, or tell us more about your favorite character actor. I know I have not even begun to scratch the surface of this very rich topic, so aa jayen aap maidan mein…

Written by SZ~

12 replies

  1. So right SZ. Loved Timmy and Mamu in Ankahi…both such great talents…both left us too soon- Jamshed Ansari and Saleem Nasir Sahb.


  2. Missing the work of all the names you mentioned. besides Jackson,s height , I am not impressed with any of the dramas and these actor are no where to be seen these days….. What’s wrong with TV ….kuch khuda Ka khauf Karo…. Rubbish after rubbish with names like ” Sartaaj Mera toh Raj Mera ” ….are watching Urdu version of Hindi serials ???? Saas bahu saazish …..such Mai fed up ho Gaye hain ….. It’s all about money …isn’t it ?


  3. @SZ What a wonderful post.. & ufff the nostalgia!!

    Like @Afia your post reminded me of Jamshed Ansari’s Buqraat in Tanhaiyyan, Hasnat in Uncle Urfi, Timmy in Unkahi.. & Saleem Nasir’s Mamun and Akbar in Unkahi and Aangan terha.

    Behroze Sabzwari has played all kinds of characters in super-hit serials from zgh to humsafar but for me he is still Qabacha!

    Tanhaiyyan gave us loads of other character actors/roles.. Durdana Butt’s bibi, Badar Khalil’s Aani, Qazi Wajid’s Faran, Azra Sherwani’s Aapa Begum.. They were all just as fantastic as each other and perhaps the most memorable roles of their careers.

    Arshad Mehboob’s chauhdry Sahab and DB as his sister were also great fun in Aangan Terha.

    In recent times, although Firaq went totally off track, UG and MA amazed me with their performances.

    Hina Bhayat is a fab actress and although she plays supporting roles, for me at times, just her presence alone compels me to watch certain plays – Gar maan & her Khursheeda Begum, appo in Talkhiyan and my all time fav hajra in matae jan… (ok SS & AH were also part of that drive lol)

    Samina Ahmad and her nani in the Barat series, and nani in sannata, Amma jan in dil mohallay ki haveli, numerous telefilms, and family front.
    Saba Hameed is another fab character actress.. Although we do see a tad bit too much of her these days..

    Nadia Afgan’s Tabinda in SeZ.. although it was a short-lived , she def made her presence felt!

    Sajid Hasan’s dr. Irfan and his role in Sitara & Mehrunnisa were also memorable.

    Although Noman Ejaz and Sania Saeed have been playing a few supporting roles these days, they are still mainly starring in lead roles, ( eg. Numm & UBFN).. So for me they r still lead actors 🙂 .. goes to show how powerful their performances are..


  4. Wonderful idea to acknowledge the side characters.

    Besides the obvious ones like, aunty Farida, Aunn’s dadi, Saima Choudhary & all the side characters of Ankahi & Tanhaiyaan, some of my other favourites are:

    Husna, Aunn’s mom. She was the only cool, calm one in that hyper family.
    Molvi mammo, in Daam.
    Flustered Shandana in Durreshewar.
    Amin, Shanno’s father in ST.
    Phupho Batoolaan ( & her English) in Akbari Asghari.

    After this lets discuss the side characters we hate. I have quite a few I hate with passion.


  5. Nice topic SZ! I liked Qavi Saab’s work in Durr e Shahwar. Shamim Hilaly is another versatile actress. From the old PTV play Dhoop Kinaray I liked the artist who played Fazeelat and the artists who played Anji’s parents – even in the most serious of situations they provided much needed humour and lighter moments…

    Daam was a play where almost every character shone through – who can forget Mamoo or Mano and her Bitthoo?


  6. Loveee your post…always great to read your creative reviews 🙂
    Totally agree with all characters or character actors you mentioned… They are just superb..

    I personally liked Hajra from MeJ… I loved hajra in novel but HKB literally made that character more loveable.. To me MeJ was MJ and HKB.. Then its Khursheda Begum.. Uff what a fun to watch HKB like that..

    Nimra Bucha in Daam as Asma.. Or the telefilms she did.. Mind blowing.. Ghar aur ghata is my personal favorite..

    Coke kahani mein i liked Sonia Rehman.. Her maya was fantastic.. Even AJ was brilliant.. Adnan Jaffer’s jano baba in Talkhiyan was something so goood

    Shamim Hilali in Silvatein was wow… Her nusrat in ck was equally fun..

    And last but not the least Mansha pasha as Sidra in ZGH.. Loveeed her as sidra 🙂


    • Thank you SZ for acknowledging ‘actors’! I don’t entirely agree with these classifications (lead, side, character, supporting etc) because to me all actors have to play ‘characters’ – its simply how well they can play them!
      It’s interesting that truly memorable ‘characters’ over the years have never been the ‘leads’ – but could the leads have made those dramas memorable without them? Not for me! 🙂


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