Four Telefilms Worth Watching On Women’s International Day

Telefilms

As a social group we desis take great pride in our close knit relationships. Our connections stretch across generations making for an incredibly interwoven and complicated tapestry. Insignificant though each one of us might seem in the context of the larger picture, note the intricate detailing and the variety of shades and patterns. One close look and the significance of every individual contribution becomes apparent. 

Each of the telefilms discussed below represent a pattern block in this social tapestry of ours. Befittingly so, since we are celebrating the International Women’s Day today, these four stories revolve around women, and the issues and challenges they face as females living in a male dominated society. Be it a Kiran or an Abeera or a Firdous or a Talat, each woman is an individual with her own unique story to tell. These stories are not easy watches, in fact all require you to think and then think again.

Given the significance of this day, here’s one question we need to ask ourselves: If we are indeed living in the 21st century why then do our issues continue to sound like they belong in the 19th century?  

Watching sugar-coated frothy love stories is entertaining and fun, but once in a while we need to pause and ponder: Kahan se chaley they hum aur kahan aa pohonche hain … Is this the kind of regressive society we want our daughters to grow up in?

Drama Fever/Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki

Written by Zafar Mairaj and directed by Adnan Wai Qureshi, this is the story of Kiran and her uxorious husband Amir, who lives to please his wife. For her part, Kiran is a housewife who lives and breathes filmi TV serials. Sona jagna, uthna baithna, her dressing, even her cooking, all are inspired by what she see watches on TV – obsession is too mild adescriptive for her addiction. Time and again Amir tries to reason with her, explain the difference between reality and fantasy, but madam tau basbibi kuch alag hi sample hain!

Kahani ghar ghar ki derives its title from one of the many serials that 10636002_360622190782246_2301139677475321248_nKiran watches, but like the story, the title too lends itself to various readings. Ghar is not just the brick and mortar structure that Kiran and Amir call home, but it is also refers to that fantastical place that Kiran has created in her own head. Much as she lives in the present she spends far more time with her imaginary friends in her khayali ghar. When they’re together Amir might think he has wife’s undivided attention, but in her mind Kiran is character A who is romancing B in XYZ serial. To some extent there exists a Kiran within all of us, but when reel ghar aur ghar waley start taking precedence over real ghar aur ghar waley is where problems start.

1544515_360621364115662_361685986918706575_nThough she drives Amir nuts with her never-ending demands Kiran is not a mean or bad person. Far from it. She’s a genuinely sweet person- uska mala kuch aur hai. Her biggest dushman is her own mind, one which is looking to be challenged in ways other than cooking and cleaning. For many, her life might be an ideal one – pyar karney wala aur nakhrey uthaney wala shohar, no susral ka jhamela and no kids. For Kiran, however, this comfortable but ultimately meaningless life feels much like a gilded cage. With so much free time and no creative or emotionally satisfying outlet for her intelligence, her imagination acquires wings, soaring higher with each flight of fancy. 

How many times have we seen people gossiping, interfering in others’ lives simply because they have way too much time on their hands. Read this way, this is indeed a kahani ghar ghar ki. Kiran is no different from those around her, sirf us ka khud ko behlaney ka tariqa alag hai. Though hers is an exaggerated example, it is a poignant commentary on our societal setup. Kiran lacks for nothing, we tell ourselves, what else could she want? Us ko shukar karna chahiye, woh kitni lucky hai, we pontificate and move on. Forgotten in this sweeping assessment are her 10609477_360622400782225_6031260495239589599_nindividuality and her desperate need for intellectual engagement.

Amir is a good husband who pays the ultimate price in trying to satisfy his wife. But should Kiran be held responsible for this?

Yes, her demands lead to tragedy, but could all this have been avoided had someone heard her unvoiced cry for help? Would it have helped if Amir had taken his wife’s need for attention a little more seriously and tried to figure out the issues driving her ever increasing demands? Her friends and family laughed at her and chastised her but how many stopped to help her?

Simply put this telefilm is brilliant in getting the point across that as intellectual beings our needs are bit more complex than the simplistic roti kapra makan paradigm. Add to this the claustrophobia on account of being caged and deprived of fresh air and you have ghar ghar ki kahani.

10402379_360621420782323_6210992943130995598_nZafar Mairaj’s story is as complicated as it is simple, and here I applaud the director for stepping back and allowing the story to play itself out. Much like the script, the visual narrative is deceptively uncomplicated and remarkably unburdened by the much darker subtext.

Infact, don’t be mislead by my serious take – the telefilm is hilarious for the most part.  That Sania Saeed plays Kiran to perfection makes Adnan’s task that much simpler. Yes, this one is Sania’s show all the way. Kiran’s fabulously OTT get ups, her mercurial mood swings and her dance (!) are not be missed. Sania’s meticulous reading and understanding of her character’s complex emotional graph make this one an absolute must-watch.10360361_360621374115661_9001742160362528109_n

While Sania is undoubtedly the star of the show, it is Shahood Alvi’s understated but equally impressive reading of Amir’s graph that anchors the story; it is Amir’s gravitas that makes Kiran’s flights of fancy believable. You watch this telefilm and think back to Zafar Mairaj’s Ashk, check Shahood out in some more recent stuff, and you can’t help but feel for the immense talent being wasted in inane TRP targeted projects. Along similar lines, I had watched these telefilms and a few episodes from  Ain, that Adnan had directed earlier, and, therefore, had great hopes from his ongoing Zid… but alas!

Khamoshi

What happens when a girl is raped by someone in her own family, woh jis se uska nikah jayiz nahin nahin….

11056905_10153667242158662_468830906_nTaking this loaded question as a starting point, writer Mohammed Ahmed, director Erum Shahid and producer Rubina Ashraf introduce us to Abeer and her family: an affectionate naani, a firm father, loving mother, an elder sister in a troubled marriage, a frustrated rebellious brother, and finally an uncle who seems lost in a world all his own.

On the surface they are about as normal, or as dysfunctional, as any other family. The dining table is where Munawar sahab, the firm disciplinarian, holds court: scolding his wayward son, snipping away at his wife, getting impatient with his older daughter’s inability to hold her marriage together, and expressing concern about his younger daughter’s wan appearance. Behzad, the insane uncle prefers to be left to his own devices, mumbling stuff that makes no sense to the sane people around 10893773_10153667242393662_503382758_nhim.

Incest is not a matter to be handled lightly hence the writer and director’s quietly underplayed approach to the story and their characters. Their sensitivity and refreshingly non-judgmental attitude to thus delicate matter holds them in great stead as they navigate the slippery slope of unsaid taboos, societal pressure, and familial honor – all very real issues that Abeer and her family members must negotiate before they arrive at any kind of a resolution.

I don’t want to give away spoilers but suffice it to say this is not a lighthearted watch. On the other hand, however, to give them credit, Mohammed Ahmed and Erum Shahid do not allow the narrative to get weighed down by melodrama and refuse to dwell upon the standard main lut gayi barbad ho gayi type scenario. At the end of the day11005592_10153667242153662_1711619406_n this is a story as empowering as it is tragic. The ladies of the family start off fearing the personal and social cost that comes with acknowledging this ugly truth – someone in their family is a sexual predator- but as things unfold they strive to rise above the shame and guilt, and work proactively to deal as best as they can with this situation.

As the extent of the horror sinks in there is a discernible shift of focus; the omnipotent loag and duniya are replaced by a more pressing concern for Abeer’s health. There is a gradual realization about the need to seek professional help. More than anything else this telefilm highlights the need to speak up and break the culturally imposed code of silence. Yesterday it was Naureen today it it is Abeer; how many more had there been in between? As is beautifully underscored, khamoshi in such cases not only emboldens the perpetrator but puts innocents at risk as well.

11042263_10153667242323662_15453604_nThe writing is brilliant in highlighting our societal predilection to judge on outward appearances; comparison between Munawar and Behzad underscores the arbitrariness of socially determined boundaries that separate the sane from the insane. Overall, if you walk away feeling heavy-hearted but more aware, saddened but more informed, then Khamoshi has achieved its intended goal: to open up a public conversation, shed light on what we as a society prefer to bury in the darkest recesses of our mind. 

In terms of acting this is Mohammed Ahmed at his darkest best. Shakeel and Badar Khalil are veterans and their experience shows. Nyla Jaffri and Maira Khan are very impressive but it is the newcomer Maliha, as Abeer, who steals the show. Hassan Niazi makes for a believably troubled Anwar.

While trying to dig up more info about this telefilm I was surprised to 11047159_10153667242188662_1313963910_nhear it had been rejected by major channels and was eventually aired on the lesser known TV One where it came and went without attracting eyeballs. I get that incest is a very difficult subject, but sensitive and mature treatment makes all the difference. Compare Khamoshi with the ongoing Chup Raho and decide for yourself. If a Chup Raho can be aired weekly, at primetime for 6+ months on a mainstream channel, how many apple carts could’ve an hour long telefilm upset?

Firdous Ki Dozakh

This telefilm is brilliant. No questions. But I have another, more personal, reason for my attachment to this one. Firdous was my introduction to the fabulous duo of Bee Gul and Khalid Ahmad. Way before Pehchan, long before Talkhiyan, I chanced upon this telefilm purely by accident. I did not know Bee Gul then but had tremendous respect for Khalid sahab so thought to give it a dekhoPaanch minute aur bas … nahin acchi lagi tau band kar doongi, I remember telling myself.

Fifteen minutes in and I was head over heels in love. Then came Talkhiyan and the deal was sealed. 11051625_10153667220778662_242851372_nToday, after Pehchan, I regard Bee Gul as one of our most gifted writers and Khalid sahab a visionary who breathes life into her words in a way no one else can. Simply put, they create magic together. Here, the visually stunning 3 minute opening scene and Bee Gul’s exquisitely penned monologue are a connoisseur’s delight. 

Produced by Raziuddin Ahmad and Farooq Mengal, Firdous is the story of the unvoiced trauma and pent up fears of a young girl ordered to silence her screams and wipe away her tears. Young Amina’s rape was hushed up and never talked about again. Pretending it never happened was her family’s way of dealing with this horror. The victim’s emotional distress and the need to address it were not deemed as important as the fact that she was from a maulviyon ka khandan aur yeh unki izzat ka sawal tha.  The iron will of the karta dhartas of our patriarchal society, where familial honor is defined through and vested in the female body, ensured that not even a murmur escaped young Amina’s lips. Preserving their khandan ki izzat was the paramount concern.

With passage of time that dark night became a distant hazy memory. But does time really heal all wounds, even those that hurt on the inside, the kind that keep you up at nights? 

Amma ne awaaz tak nahin nikalne di, Amina recollected years later as she consoled her traumatized daughter. And it is from this point that this story really takes off. In what I have now come to recognize as vintage Bee Gul, we get an exquisite intertwining of three time zones, the distant past, near past and the present. Our narrator is the lovely, heart achingly young widow Firdous, and it is through her eyes that we see this very complex story unfold. 

11040757_10153667220788662_467938050_nInasmuch as this is Firdous’ story in so many ways it is Amina’s as well. Firdous’ life was dictated by the strict dont’s and very few do’s that her dour mother allowed. When something untoward did happen, Firdous’ mother seemed almost relieved. Finally! From her response it was as if she’d been waiting for something like this to happen and when it did, she felt not only vindicated but also validated. 

That one night changed everything for Firdous. Her life, which had never really been hers to begin with, was now totally in her mother’s hands. It was as if from thereon forward she had to carry the burden of two lives – not only was she to pay for her own sins, but also had to atone for all that went wrong in her mother’s life. There were fleeting attempts at rebellion but those were vehemently quashed. Hell is not something to be experienced only after death, for Firdous, dozakh bar roo-e zameen ast … hameen ast-o hameen ast-o hameen ast.  

Firdous ki Dozakh is a subtle yet scathing critique of our desi setup where a woman and her feelings are deemed worthless and easily sacrificed at the altar of familial honor. But it is not just that. Bee Gul’s brilliance lies in her 10668270_10153667256898662_286671139_nunderlining of how our woefully ossified patriarchal societal setup continues to perpetuate.

How does such a vicious social system, one that feeds off of its own, continue to not only survive but thrive? 

Simply put, Bee Gul responds, it does so because it self-perpetuates. Like in Pehchan, here too we see the process by which yesterday’s victim turns into today’s victimizer. Amina had sacrificed so much in trying to protect the status quo that to turn against it now would have be akin to denying her own sense of self. To Amina’s mind, therefore, it made perfect sense for her to turn away the rishtas of less than izzatdar gharanas and marry off Firdous to an aged maulvi, after all khandan ki izzat ka sawal tha. Then it had been her abba and amma now it was Amina, talking about maintaining the all important izzat ka parda. From one generation to another the mantle had been passed. Long live patriarchy and long live the men AND women who reinforce it.   

11047264_10153667220768662_2105977775_nAmina is by no means an easy character, she is mazloom in one instant but unquestionably zalim in the next, at one point you empathize with her, but in the very next scene you hate her, spanning as she does more than 50 shades of grey. It is to Nimra Bucha’s credit for making it all look so effortless; she effectively carries the telefilm on her shoulders and essays the complicated Amina so very beautifully. Khalid Ahmad is great as her husband. The big surprise here is Sana Askari, who is remarkably effective as Firdous. I so wish this talented actress was not so underutilized, type cast as she is as the manipulative nand, behen, bhabhi, or seen in one crazy jadoo tona type serial after another. 11026732_10153667220803662_69695271_n 

Coming from someone who has written one brilliant script after another, where every gesture has meaning and every scene has a reason, I’m at a loss to understand this mishmash called Zid. Yes, it bears traces of Bee Gul’s patented writing style and I see the DNA of her thought process, but that’s about all. Muddled, confused storytelling, randomly thrown in dialogues, disjointed scenes, this is clearly not the work of the writer I fell in love with.

Tum Mujh Mein Zinda Ho

Tumhari qabr par jis ne tumhara naam likha hai 
Woh jhoota hai 
Tumhari qabr mein main dafn hoon
Tum mujh mein zinda ho
Kabhi fursat miley tau fateha parhney chaley aana  

~Nida Fazli

This one is written by Sameena Nazir, directed by Naeem Khan and produced by Sameena Nazir and Tariq Siddiqui. Tum Mujh Mein Zinda Ho is one of those telefilms where writing, direction, acting, set design, sound design, 11039502_10153662373448662_982878761_ncinematography, everything is pretty much spot on. 

Like Bee Gul, Sameena too tackles the question of a woman’s place in a patriarchal society. Her protagonist Talat is the firstborn daughter of a father who had expected and wanted a son, one to whom he could pass on his khandani knowledge of hikmat, one who would be his shoulder to lean on, and one who would take care of the family after he was gone.

Her father, Saifuddin, the scion of an ooncha gharana, a noted hakim, a nafees man who loved poetry, was someone with way too much rakh rakhao to demean himself by publicly expressing his disappointment and dashed expectations. It was a mere mention here, a fleeting aside there, that occasionally gave voice to his innermost feelings. More obvious, though, was his firm determination that Talat not be frivolous with her time. After all she was the eldest… beta na sahi magar thi tau bari. His attitude towards his younger daughter is remarkably different. 

Because she was a girl born at the wrong time meant that she started life on the wrong foot. No matter what she accomplished, a double MA and B.Ed, 11051468_10153662373453662_1318367309_nnor her sacrifices, giving up her love for poetry and literature to become a stern teacher, nothing could ever compensate for the fact that she was not Saifuddin’s son.

Talat was the name chosen for the son Saifuddin had been expecting. Ab jab yeh larki paida ho gayi tau ek aur naam bhala kaun sochey … hence the daughter was given the son’s name. That she spent an entire lifetime living up to the weight of expectations attached to the name was never realized let alone be acknowledged. The brutal quashing of her love for poetry, frequent reminders that frivolities like shaadi and ghar basana were not for her, constant meen meekh in every rishta that came for her – years later these are her only recollections of her father.

Yousuf’s entrance in her life is akin to that of a stone thrown in still waters. He reminds Talat of feelings she’d buried deep within herself, hidden them away because to remember them hurt too much. She finds herself softening, melting, wanting to feel the warmth of being loved for herself, but then … abba aur un ki woh saari baatein. 

So what is it that stops Talat from responding to Yousuf’s knocks on her gate? What makes her reconsider her decision at the very last minute? Abba tau guzar gaye they phir Talat kyon ruk gayi, ab tau koi rokne wala nahin tha?

Like Firdous, Tum Mujh Mein Zinda Ho is also an exquisitely presented scathing critique of our patriarchal social set up, where a woman’s position continues to be secondary to that of a man. Talat is very much a victim of this kind 11046934_10153662373633662_1096304805_nof a mindset, where her own desires and ambitions are deemed secondary to those of her father’s. It’s not her fault she was born a girl, yet she spends a lifetime atoning for a sin she never committed in the first place.

It is no surprise then that she resents the system which is so unfair and unjust, as reflected in her curt and terse interactions with everybody around her. It is as if the teachers in her school, the kachrey wala, all are stand-ins for those  towards whom she feels the most anger. But then watch her carefully – is this really the same Talat who used to memorize poetry written by Pakistani poets? Who is this woman who feels only Indian poets are worth praising?

Tum Mujh Mein underscores the pain and suffering which the system inflicts on one of its own. Talat was/is a 11042609_10153667278418662_790346331_nproduct of our desi setup; throughout her life she did everything right, nary a misstep, but try as she might she could never run away from the accident of her birth. But then in a stunningly executed final scene we see that she who had hated the system, and all that it represented, had now turned into one of those because of whom the system continues to exist.

Like Amina in Firdous, somewhere along the line, unbeknownst to herself, Talat too had crossed over and gone from being the victim to the victimizer. The major difference being that rather than victimizing somebody else, in a very sad twist of fate Talat becomes both the victim and victimizer. Her wish for freedom is palpable, but fiercer is the by now internalized impulse to maintain order and status quo no matter what the cost.  Gut wrenching as it is to see the battle being waged within Talat, it serves as an important reminder that even though we  live in the 21st century our struggles are against a societal mindset that is rooted in the 19th century. Abba mar kar bhi jeet gaye aur Talat zinda hotay huye bhi haar gayi.

This one is a must-watch not just for the brilliant story telling and the fact that it is 11026631_10153667278218662_1911823599_nan aural and visual delight, but also for Nimra Bucha’s stellar take on Talat. Watch Talat and compare her to Amina, and then wonder why we don’t see enough of this superb actress. Khalid Ahmad is another actor who remains woefully underutilized, he is outstanding as Saifuddin. Also fabulous are his narrations of Gulzar’s Makan ki upri manzil par and Nida Fazli’s Tumhari qabr par. Making their presence felt among these two powerful actors is Adnan Jaffar, who is very good as Yousuf, and Suhaee Abro makes an impression as the young Talat. Waisey tau each scene is beautifully executed, but the final scene is just magnificent.

11051535_10153662373458662_601800855_nAfter having seen this one, Tamasha Meray Agay and a couple of other telefilms written by Sameena Nazir, I was sorely disappointed with her recent Darbadar Tere Liye. Much like is the case with  Zid, Darbadar too bears no resemblance whatsoever to the stellar writing we see on display here. And once again, the same questions: Why? Why? Why mess with these fabulous writers? 

Granted these stories are not for the masses but don’t we have more than enough commercial stuff on air? Why must every story be expected to follow the same 2+2=4 formula? Rather than messing with an uber talented creative, why not open up a bit of a space for experimentation and innovation? Surely our mainstream channels can find a slot or two for artsy, ‘adult’ if you will, serials? If not at primetime, then why not after? Keep the mega projects for the weekends and give such serials a mid-week slot, would that be so hard? I know there are more than a few of us who appreciate meaning and depth in what we watch. 

Moving on from TRP related whys to the bigger question raised in this post, why are we still living our lives dictated by outdated social mores. Why do we continue to be silent about things that should and do matter? I am not advocating throwing out the the baby with the bathwater. No. All I’m asking for is a reconsideration of issues we should be inviting public debate on, kinds of questions we should open for discussion. Watching women shed endless tears without any recourse is not helping us any, neither is watching dramas heavily inspired by the likes of Mirat ul Uroos and Baheshti Zevar. Surely this is not the legacy we want to leave for future generations of women?

I am fully aware of the fact that societies do not change overnight and social mindsets do not modify in an instant, but then isn’t this exactly the challenge our media industrialists, our TV channels and producers, should take on as a responsibility: to create awareness, to not only entertain but also educate, to become torchbearers and guides as we move forward towards the uncharted path that lies ahead of us. 

Written by SZ~

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14 replies

  1. What could be more interesting and awesome on Women’s day than to self analyze us as a women by reading your review and appreciating some classic work by remarkable women in our industry..

    Thank you so much for recommending these telefilms some by yourself and some via your YouTube channel.. And to say I never get disappointed with your suggestions.. Absolutely love all these 4 telefilms..

    Drama-fever, before watching never thought it could be this interesting and surprising.. And to be honest with you I couldn’t find the indepth meaning until read your review.. Shayad itna sab kuch maze se chal raha tha.. The way kiran used to get lost in her fantasy ya farmaishain karti thi.. While watching The thing that made me feel at end was how obsession to such things can lead to such disasters.. But reading your analysis made me see this telefilm from entirely different angel..i may sound stupid who didn’t understand the underlaid meaning at first but oh well.. Dair aaye durst aaye 😉 Kiran’s brother is highly bezaar of her harkats but never sit down and explained to her… you are so right.. This is actually khani ghar ghar ki.. So lost in reel world, the fantasy characters.. even i at some point used to compare the fantasy with reality.. And now coming to think of it what was reason for that.. Waqai if you utilize your talent in best possible way phir zarurat and waqt hie kahan he to think about farzi kirdaar.. This was awarness for me 🙂

    Khamooshi.. Jitna is telefilm ne depressed and pareshan kya.. Kisi ne nahin kya hoga.. But at the end of the day it was indeed good to see the initiative taken.. The elder sister makes it more believable and then combine all lasies.. This telefilm also gave us solution to such situations k raise your voice not k agar aisa hota he tou kya hota he.. Like the example you gave of Chup raho.. Do we ladies need to know k aage situation kaisi hoti hogi.. It’s nightmare to even think about it.. Give such victims a ray of hope..how to punish the culprit…

    Firdouz ki Dozakh.. This was amazingly beautiful visual telefilm.. Keep visuals aside.. As you mentioned the starting scene and the monologue.. I foran rushed to see the description (that you always write when you upload anything.. ) of who is writer and director.. And to my utter pleasure it was Beegul and Khalid Sb.. Uske baad tou i watched this with even more interest.. As it progressed the more firdouz was interesting the more i disliked aamina.. But again thanks to your review after reading this.. I rewatched this and saw from victim and victimizer point of view and it was just awesome.. Specially the scene where firdouz tells aamina about asad bhaiya.. The sigh of relief on aamina was worth noticing.. And at that time you like oh goodness no way.. Liked your example of Pehchaan.. N all i was thinking about Mansoor’s amaa.. She was so put in corner by mansoor’s father .. Is cheez rather zulm ki itni aadat hogayi k all she thought its fair enough for her DIL as well…same case with aamina.. Poori zindagi she was told of izzat and izzatdar gharana.

    Tum mujh me Zinda ho.. This was second telefilm of Sameena Nazeer that i watched after watching her Tamasha mere aagaey.. And man this was classic.. I loved the scenes of younger talat as how her dreams were put to end.. Her love of shairie, her likeness to be a girl and woman that was beautifully shown.. You could feel that sadness in the scene where she gives food to her father and how walid sahab rejects the shariee and talk fondly of his other daughter.. Kitna galat karte he just on the name of having son.. And then we have older talat.. Apne saath hie galat kyae jarahi hain.. The scene where she gives kachrewala normal glass to drink water from shows the traces of younger talat.. But then last scene and the poetry that goes along was wow..

    Sania Saeed, Nimra Bucha, Sana Askari were just fabulous and that girl playing Abeer.. Her body language and expressions were just enough .. Phir dialogues ki zarurat hie kahan rehti he.. Khalid Ahmed, Mohammad Ahmed are phenomenal actors..

    Lol better stop writing.. Its going on and on:D

    Like

    • @Rehmat: Thank you for trusting my recs and watching these on my say so … and I am thrilled to red that you enjoyed them,

      Hahaha! You are so right about Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki … it is really hilarious and it doesnt hit you on the head with the moralizing … and actually thats what I enjoyed abt the other three as well .. there were no sermons or long lectures and I loved that. Perhaps telefilms are the correct medium to discuss such sensitive topics, no? I can’t even begin to imagine Khamoshi as a full blown serial – that too with Yasir Nawaz as a director – ugh!!!

      Like

  2. SZ, thanks for the recommendations. I am with you regarding forcing these writers who produce such sensitive and beautiful, thought-provoking work to write run-of-the-mill stories with no soul. The same with forcing writers and directors to drag their script forever and ever, until the essence of the original story is completely lost. I feel it shows the greed of the channels when they refuse to have one or two one-hour slots a week or so dedicated to these different stories (for want of a better word). Almost all variety in scripts is dying out. I can’t really tell the difference between one writer and the next in most of the dramas on air these days – there is no signature style, nothing to set them apart – there are exceptions of course, but these are getting rarer and rarer.

    Just in a matter of 5 or so years things have gone from bad to worse. And though we as viewers complain about it, technical crew and cast feel equally strongly about it, the initiative has to come from the channels themselves.

    Like

    • @VZ: Exactly! I’m so with you.. it is really hard for any c reative – be it a director writer or actor – to make an impression or carve out their own niche because of the uniformity and mediocrity being forced upon them by these channels and the bigger producers.

      Re: 5 yrs, actually less, I would say, Humsafar is the real culprit behind all this… the audience response was a complete shocker and opened up not only producers and channels’ eyes but also those of the corporate giants and in came the branding of serials and the entry of big serious money into the business of drama making. Up till Humsafar we had a max of 17-18 eps per serial HUmsafar introduced the concept of re-editing to add extra eps and we got 23 eps instead of the 21 or so … remeber DeS. BK, MeJ, all contemporaries, had around 18 eps on average .. and since then we’ve never had anything less than 20, and now the numbers creeping up to the point that now if a serial ends at 23/24eps we all go wah wah … so yeah all this is very very recent…

      And yes though it seems that we are preaching to the choir and nobody really cares .. I know for a fact that pieces like these are read and discussed by people who matter, i.e the producers and channel ppl, so I can only hope that change will happen, perhaps not in the next few months, but eventually will .. or even if it doesn’t at least I would like to look back and say that I raised my voice and did my part …

      Like

  3. What a wonderful way to celebrate womaen’s day!!!!.i have no words to describe.
    I cannot see all four together . The last telifilm . Tum mujeh me jinda ho. Speech less. Fabulous acting . . Was so good to hear GUlzar ‘ a poetry and specialy I like the background classical music ( sarod and sitar and vocal ) . Oh I was like where to pay more attention . What a wonderful drama.. Nirma Buch , Khalid sab , and. Adnan jaffery.
    One thing I donot understand why these days there no drama with this kind of delicate issues, Bee Gull did in Pehchan than ZID. Is totally different , I cannot believe that it’s BEE Gull.
    Thank you so much SZ.

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    • @Ranjan: Thank you for reading and commenting. I;m so glad you watched and enjoyed Tum Mujh Men … And if you liked that one I must recommend you watch Firdous, if you havent already .. it has a very similar ambiance and aristic feel to it .. the only thing is that is not an HD print, but still its a worthy watch and the background music is an absolute winner there as well.

      Re: why we dont get such stuff on TV any more … I think we;ve talked about it so much its because the masses dont appreciate this kind of stiff.. its too dark/boring/slow/depressing … take your pick of adjectives .. and i can understand the tv channels’ hesitation in mass producing such stuff – obviously they ar not doing this to lose money – so all I;m asking for is some space in a packed weekly drama schedule … basically I see my job as being to keep pushing and asking for change .. ab lets see when and if such a change happens …:)

      Like

  4. @SZ a huge round of applause for picking out these gems and for their brilliant review. These are def not what I’d call easy-watch but it must’ve been a nightmare to write about. I had to watch them a few times to get the subtext, and the layer upon layer that unearthed each time was amazing!
    Totally with you on Bee Gul & Zidd. That has to be biggest disappointment this season! The TRP race is def setting us back… not just for industry standards but for society as a whole.
    What caught my attention the most was the point you raised about our regressing society.
    I’m going on a complete tangent here but here I go anyway lol.. I was thinking about this recently when I was visiting the oldest existing, continually operating university in the world in Fes (Morocco) which was established in 9th century by a WOMAN!!! A university that produced some of the biggest scholars of mathematics, science, astronomy, theology… What a legacy – truly inspiring!!! It got me thinking about our society in general and all the issues you’ve raised. How did we end up regressing so much? How did our aurat become the roti dhoti, mazloomiat ki alambardar? Her same old ghar ghar ki kahani and her biggest issue in life of aaj kia pake ga?!… and beti paida karna is still her biggest fear. We have gone back to the time of jahiliyyah..
    Aaj its sad to see that our dramas are still busy glorifying the Mirat-ul-uroos and bahishti zewar traits.. Mijazi khuda and all… who gets to do the raaj? the one who can get to win over the sartaajs and their susrals… This notion is setting our society into a snooze mode.. much like what we saw in Drama Fever..
    Aur jahan koi aurat ghalati se jaag gai she is sent into self-pity mode. She is constantly reminded that she is second class citizen , she is kamzor, mazloom and a bechri.. and the whole world is out there to get her, full of darindas etc .. and the safest place for her is her char diwari!.. But is it??!! I tought that what was the question that was raised beautifully through these telefilms. How safe is her char diwari afterall?

    I think our drama makers must act responsibly in order to empower our women mentally. Our woman needs to get out of that mindset and understand that she has a role to play outside her char deewari too. when she leaves her house she has to walk shana ba shana her male counterparts.. her handi choolha doesn’t come into equation when it comes to her professional life. She should be treated equally on all levels and in all walks of life. She doesn’t ‘deserve’ a soft corner or leniency just because she is also running a household, and similarly there is no sin on her if man helps out at home. Its his house too, just as much as hers.. Until and unless our woman start believing in that equality, our society will not progress.

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    • @FA: absolutely, I agree with all that you say…. and you make such a fab point with the university started by a woman anecdote ..honestly, if we have to drag our society back in time then why not drag it to the right time at least .. why are constantly picking up on issues like oppression, abuse, multiple marriages and then using religion to justify all these idiocies…

      Re: the issue abt a woman being considered equal to the man in her professional field I agree with you wholeheartedly.. equality is not just abt asking for the right to work outside, but also to then produce equally as well …iunfortunately most of the working women we see on on our TV these days are such a dhabba on the name of working women .. I dont think any of us have forgotten Dr Baji from Numm and that silly nurse from Goya .. in se tau behter hai ke they dont even bother showing us such namoonas.

      And on the issues of mijazi khudas and ghar mein raaj … I have to say more than any other channel I am terribly disappointed in HUM for their selection of dramas … considering this a channel run by a family and helmed by three strong women I am yet to see even one HUM heroine based on a Momina or a Sultana.. why dont we have dramas based on these real world models rather than continuing to perpetuate deeply problematic notion like mera sartaj = mera raaj!! #disgusted!!!

      Like

  5. I have received four telefilms. Everyone of them has been well selected and worth watching. Today I have watched Firdous ki Dozakh. This drama reveals the sophistication of the writer Bee Gul. As it has been pointed out so well in the introductory article Bee Gul is a “most gifted writer where every gesture has a meaning and every scene has a reason”. Sana Askari has acted very well and we know Khalid Ahmad is unique and above reproach in his talent for me to make any comments.
    This telefilms moves along very well from beginning to the end. The selection of music in the background is very soothing, effective and adds a lot more in revealing the sentiments and emotions of a particular scene.
    My thanks are due to SZ for the lovely introduction and for all those who have work hard to produce this remarkable telefilm.
    Mian Hanif Anwar, M.D.

    Like

    • @Anwar sahab: Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment and all your kind words – much appreciated!

      Firdous is indeed a beautifully crafted piece of art, the kind we don’t get to see very often on TV, which is very unfortunate. Bee Gul and Khalid Sahab are artists in the true sense of the word and I sincerely hope that we see then collaborating again on a project very soon.

      Hopefully my humble effort here can help draw some much needed attention towards this and the other little known gems I have written about here.

      Like

  6. Bahishti zever social sy ziada religious problems ko discuss kerti hai iss liay iss ko religious books ki category main rakha jata hai aur ACTUALLY BOHAT HELPFULL HAI specially muslim khawateen k liay…main nay bohat seekha hai iss say

    jis andaz mein yahan tazkara hoa hai mujhay acha nahi laga..Ashraf ali thanvi sahib kaa bohat maqam hai….baat ye hai k aap kis cheez ko kis tra laitay hain log tou mazhabi kitabein perh ker bhi gumrah ho jatay hain iss ka matlab kia hai k ab hum oon ko bhi follow kerna chor den…

    Like

    • @RJ: Hello! Good to hear from you – been a while 🙂

      I’m not really sure if this comment is intended for me, as it isn’t addressed to anybody, but since you are referring to an argument that was never made in my piece above, let me clarify:

      Nowhere in this piece have I said that anybody should stop following these particular texts, nor do I cast any aspersions on their utility, neither have I questioned the writers’ standing anywhere … in fact if you read the lines preceding the last sentence of that particular para they are as follows:

      “I am not advocating throwing out the the baby with the bathwater. No. All I’m asking for is a reconsideration of issues we should be inviting public debate on, kinds of questions we should open for discussion. Watching women shed endless tears without any recourse is not helping us any, neither is watching dramas heavily inspired by the likes of Mirat ul Uroos and Baheshti Zevar. Surely this is not the legacy we want to leave for future generations of women?”

      As is also evident I am not even pointing to these texts per se either, rather using these texts as a referral point to an era a particular mindset, the specific socio-political milieu that gave birth to these texts … If you have read the entire essay then you know there is a specific argument being pushed through and this last line is merely a wrapping up of that argument with that example..

      You might then further ask why these two texts, why not the thousand others produced in that era .. the simple answer is that by my merely referring to these names I refer to an entire era that they represent .. these two books have over time come to be synonymous with the era they were produced and thus provide a historical context to my argument …

      Take for instance if we were to talk about the Zia era, we would not need have to be talking about the specificities related to all that Zia did or did not do, rather in general usage we would refer to it as an reference point, or the broader context in which many things happened, the social changes that occurred how the society changed etc .. Or to take another, more relevant example, we often talk about Star Plus era, or Ekta Kapoor serials, or Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi…. whenever these names are brought into a discussion there is an implicit understanding that they are not being used to a point to a particular person, a specific serial… rather they provide a context, a reference to time period, a particular genre of drama, etc.

      If there are questions about the mid -late 19th century social and political milieu that I refer to then Ayesha Jalal’s Self and Sovereignty is the best (although really long-winded) work on the subject ….

      Hope that clears the issue re: those texts, baqi tau as always you are welcome to disagree with whatever you choose, that’s your prerogative as a reader 🙂

      Like

      • @SZ.. Let’s agree to disagree….aap k jawab nay mujhay mere mouqif per aur bhi mazboot kia hai kiunk ab confirm ho gaya hai k jo main samjhi thi thik samjhi thi…mujhay maloom tha aap kia kehna chah rahi hain lekin jis tra kaha..oos per mujhay aitraz tha jis kaa izhar main nay ker dia ..baaz dafa aap sahi baat ko kehnay k liay jo andaz ikhtiyar kertay hain wo kuch ziada munasib nahi hota ..ye hi mera point tha aur abhi bhi hai..baqi main ziada detail main nahi jana chahti ..ager ye forum entertainment aur oos say related cheezon ko discuss kernay k liay hai tou behter hai hum sub oosi per rahen ..political aur dosray issues zer-e behes naa hi ayn tou behter hai

        umeed hai aynda aap khayal rakhen gi ..kiunk readers main har tra k log shamil hain …baqi tou
        jo chahay so aap kren hain hum ko abus badnam kia

        Like

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