One thing we should appreciate the Pakistani entertainment industry for is that it has churned out quality television series on a regular basis. Our film industry has seen both good and bad years. Nonetheless, our dramas are the saving face of the entertainment industry. If you haven’t had the chance to enjoy a good drama serial lately, here’s your chance. Check out this list for some effective, relatable and realistic Pakistani entertainment!
Genre: Romance, Crime, Social Issues Aired on: Hum TV
Directed by: Mohammed Ehteshamuddin Written by: Farhat Ishtiaq
Starring: Samiya Mumtaz, Bushra Ansari, Ahsan Khan, UrwaHocane, Farhan Saeed
The Storyline Overview
The story of this serial is about a rural widow named Sajida and her daughter, Zebo. In the hope of a secure future for her daughter, she accepts the marriage proposal of her late husband’s brother Imtiaz. This man is secretly a criminal and sexual offender who soon rapes the ten-year-old Zebo.
As is the norm in our society, Sajida forces her child to stay quiet about this.
She doesn’t even report this incident to the police due to the taboo that reporting sexual abuse brings dishonor. Her confrontation leads to threats by the pedophile that he would harm the little girl again. As a result, Sajida loses it and tries to murder Imtiaz in a crazy fit of anger. She flees to the city afterwards. With the help of some old friends from her village and a change of identities, terror-stricken Sajida and Zebo begin a new life.
However, as fate would have it, six years down the line, it is revealed that Imtiaz is still alive. He is now hunting for the mother-daughter duo to seek revenge. Things get ugly when Imtiaz finds Sajida. He accuses her of murder and she gets convicted. Still, worse happens when, against the will of Sajida, the issue of Zebo’s rape is brought up in the court.
Udaari is a like breath of fresh air. It is the kind of story not told too often in Pakistani dramas (for which it even got into a bit of trouble with PEMRA!). It deals with disturbing social issues such as corruption and abuse. Also, taboos such as reporting rape, choosing music as a career, the second marriage of a widow and of the fight for justice, rights and survival are discussed. Bushra Ansari and Samiya Mumtaz steal the show. Nevertheless, the other actors also have performed quite well to the effect that it gets very overwhelming and captivating.
Through the well-structured storyline and the effective execution, Udaari creates a deep impact. It provides inspiration, hope and a beautiful message for those in the same boat as Zebo:
‘I am not a victim, I am a survivor’.
Most importantly, Udaari aims to convey that it is alright to report abuse and to want justice. It also attempts to spread awareness regarding these very matters. Udaari is a highly-recommended television serial for all kinds of audience, including individuals not yet into adulthood. I believe that it is imperative for the welfare of our children that such issues and their solutions are made known to them early on.
2- KHUDA MERA BHI HAI
Genre: Social Issues Aired on: ARY Digital
Directed by: Shahid Shafat Written by: Asma Nabeel
Starring: Ayesha Khan, Syed Jibran, Furqan Qureshi, HiraTareen, Aly Khan, Saba Hameed, MariumSaleem, Imran Ashrad, Irsa Ghazal, Mehmood Aslam, Tipu
The Storyline Overview
This is a story of a successful and independent photo-journalist Mahgul/Mahi and her struggles while bringing up her special child. All seemed to be going well in Mahi’s life until she delivers her first baby who turns out to be a transgender. This came as a great shock to her whole family. Since our society never accepts such children, Mahi faces trouble. Her husband and in-laws pressurize her to leave the newborn child with a group of transgenders. This group, according to the norm, used to make ends meet by singing, dancing and begging. This decision kills Mahi from the inside. She seeks her husband’s understanding and support, which she, unfortunately, does not receive.
Furious at the heartlessness of those around her, overcome with grief and maternal instincts and motivated by her liberal and upright nature, she decides to take a bold step:
She brings her baby back.
The cost of this decision includes leaving her husband and her home, facing problems at work and in other areas of life and dealing with people’s lack of acceptance of such individuals. Nevertheless, Mahi is determined to fight for her child’s rights and future. With the support of her mother and her friends, she prepares herself to encounter whatever may come in the path of raising a transgender child. She further tries to help other such individuals by rejecting stereotypes and letting them have a place in the society, for example by hiring BabliBaji/BabbanMiyan as her house help.
Khuda Mera Bhi Hai is another unusual and incredible serial, which caters to a very sensitive and less spoken of a social issue and taboo. For the first time in Pakistan, a television series is attempting to shatter the common notion that transgenders should be a cast-off section of the society. It is attempting to make people rethink about the treatment we as a society provide to such people, by denying them the basic human rights and shutting off all sorts of opportunities for them just because they were born different. Ayesha Khan, Tipu and Isra Ghazal deliver remarkable performances, the execution and direction are quite effective and the storyline is strong. This is one of those serials which are hard to miss and even harder to forget about.
Genre: Romance Aired on: ARY Digital
Directed by: Nadeem Baig Written by: Faiza Iftikhar
Starring: Mehvish Hayat, Humayon Saeed, Saba Hameed, Mariam Ansari, Asma Abbas, Imran Ashraf
The Storyline Overview
Slightly inspired by Shakespeare’s ‘Taming of The Shrew’, this is a different kind of love story. The strong-headed female lead, Anmol, supports and lives with her widowed mother and younger sister. She encounters Mohid in an unexpected fight and that is where she starts misunderstanding and misinterpreting his actions. Mohid falls in love with her and later they marry in the most unique way.
However, Anmol keeps going deeper in her hatred for Mohid. She carries on with her marriage so as to avenge herself. However, without realizing it herself, she starts falling for him. All this while, Mohid displays patience and lets Anmol get her way with things. This becomes one of the reasons which enable her to overcome her hatred for him. What started as a journey of misunderstandings and resentment gradually turns into one of romance, passion and thrilling intensity.
Shot at the vintage themed locations including the mystically beautiful shrine of the popular Sufi saint Lal Shehbaz Qalandar in Sehwan, Dillagi provides a visual treat for its audience. An engaging and exciting storyline with a dominant female lead for a change is refreshing. Also, great acting and direction and a catchy soundtrack (Rahat Fateh Ali Khan’s version of the Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s hit ‘Tumhe Dillagi Bhool Jani Paregi’), altogether make it a must-watch serial for all those who enjoy Pakistani love stories.
4- SANG-E- MAR MAR
Genre: Family, Romance, Crime Aired on: Hum TV
Directed by: Saife Hassan Written by: Mustafa Afridi
Starring: NomanIjaz, Sania Saeed, Mikaal Zulfiqar, Kubra Khan, OmairRana, Uzma Hassan, Tipu Sharif, Beenish Raja, Sharmeen Ali
The Storyline Overview
This is a story of murder, revenge, unrequited love, heartbreak and cultural and traditional boundaries. It is also about the injustices which occur time and again and are justified in our society generation after generation. Sang e Mar Mar highlights such issues including forceful marriages, prejudices against certain ethnicities, murder in the name of honor and not giving women the right to get medical treatment or the freedom to choose how to live their lives.
The story revolves around Gulistan Khan and his family.
He is a strict Pathan head of the family who belongs to a village and is an abusive husband to his wife Shameem. They have three sons, Gohar, Safiullah and Aurang and a daughter Sherbano.
A contractor called Saif-ur-Rehman kills Gohar. He was under the false impression that Gohar was having an affair with his sister, Shireen. Although, in actuality, he was involved with Shireen’s friend Durkhande. A very furious Gulistan Khan decides to take an eye for an eye by murdering Saif-ur-Rehman in return. Gohar’s reality is known by Saif-ur-Rehman’s spiteful wife Pari but she stills blames Shireen and pleas to Gulistan to settle this feud by accepting Shireen as a wife for his son, as is the cultural norm of offering women in marriages to settle disputes. Poor Shireen was led to believe that she was to marry her childhood love Aurang, and she is ecstatic. Only to be later devastated to learn that actually, she would become Safiullah’s second wife, as the first one had not had any kids.
On the other hand, Gulistan had forcibly married his daughter Sherbano to his nephew Torah, whose mother he had killed earlier due to her interest in singing and dancing as was part of her Bengali heritage. Sherbano is an abusive and hateful wife, who resents Torah and his sister Palwasha on the basis of their maternal genes and deeper skin color.
Torah carries the hurt of his mother’s murder in his heart and tolerates his marriage in order to seek personal revenge.
Aurang, the youngest son, had studied at Peshawar University and his mindset is much more liberal than his family’s. He dotes on his mother and since childhood had stood up to his father due to which his father holds a grudge against him. The forceful and unjust traditions of his family suffocate Aurang. However, he cannot prevent what his father wants to be done. We see him struggling against the dominant values of the society in order to stand up for what’s right. For example, he sneaked out his sister-in-law Gulalai for her medical treatment for infertility, although this was strictly not allowed.
Shot in the Swat District, Sang-e-Mar Mar is a surely a feast for the eyes with many wonderful shots capturing the breathtaking beauty of that region. The story touches your heart and the acting and direction do justice to it. Sania Saeed and Noman Aijaz perform outstandingly while Kubra Khan is also impressive. As you watch the serial episodes, you start to feel deeply for the characters, specially Shireen and Torah. The soundtrack is lovely and beautifully adds to the overall effect. If you like meaningful and heart-rending stories, then this one is definitely of your taste!
5- ZARA YAAD KAR
Genre: Romance Aired on: Hum TV
Directed by: Amna Nawaz Khan Written by: Khalil-ur-Rehman Qamar
Starring: Saba Faisal, Zahid Ahmed, Yumna Zaidi, Sana Javed, Sharmeen Ali
The Storyline Overview
This is a story of a simple young man, Hadi. He is desperately in love with his cousin and fiancé Mahnoor. Despite her engagement to him, Mahnoor does not love or respect Hadi. She soon gets romantically involved with her neighbor Waqar. This affair leads to her divorcing Hadi in the hope of marrying Waqar. Hadi is intensely heart-broken. Also, Mahnoor’s mother Aneesa is extremely upset with her daughter. Consequently, she keeps aside her motherly affection to deal with Mahnoor very strictly.
Meanwhile, Hadi finds out that his land lord’s daughter Uzma has fallen for him but he never accepts her love as he stays madly in love with Mahnoor even though she had deceived him. As the story unfolds, Waqar turns out to be non-serious with Mahnoor and an also opportunist who soon starts playing with the feelings of another woman, his well-off student, Geeti, in the hopes of marrying into a wealthy family. The story continues to show more deceit and games by the self-centered characters of the story while the true lovers suffer from heartbreaks and sorrow until karma serves justice and good comes to those who deserve it.
Zara Yaad Kar is an exemplary serial about love, loss, integrity and honesty. It includes strong dialogues, good acting and a happy ending. An enjoyable serial, it also depicts important life lessons and food for thought. If you are a viewer who enjoys substantial and thought-provoking entertainment, then this one is for you!