Many new writers, producers and directors have moved into into this growing industry in past few years. But unfortunately, on the whole the vision of present Pakistani drama has very badly shrunk.
The only target audience of current television dramas is urban populace mainly female. Therefore certain stereotypical formulas of ego, romance, and revenge are applied to make almost every other screenplay. There is serious lack of genuine, unique and original substance.
By and large, the story line of the dramas on-airing from Pakistani channels is highly ‘women-centered’ or ‘women-oriented’. The plot and theme around which the drama revolves are mostly based on the social, cultural or more often domestic problems encountered by women. In many of the stories, the protagonist is a woman who belongs to the middle class most of the times. There come (at times small, at times huge) troubles and hurdles in her life triggered by either society or family. And finally, there comes a man who proves to be her savior rather a knight in shining armor. This is what today’s typical Pakistani drama is all about. ’Humsafar’ and Zindagi gulzar hai’, two most popular dramas of last two three years were nothing but the same. Since women are more sentimental, in such stereotypical plays the setting, the mood, the emotions, the music, the dialogues and all the remaining accessories are well set to touch their inner feelings of sympathy, love and grief.
Other archetypical topics common today include love affair that involves either one girl and two boys or two boys and one girl, families’ internal rifts, domestic conspiracies, husband -wife disputes, marriage, separation and second marriage.
Along with fanciful happenings and extra spices of glamour, drama is overstretched needlessly. A story which can be summed up in an hour-long play is for no reason extended to two dozen episodes and that too in a very idiotic manner. Big villas and luxurious vehicles which are accessible to a very thin minority of this country are shown so frequently.
At times, our dramas portray very odd messages. I remember a telefilm telecast sometime ago titled ‘behad’. It projected a teenage girl who first complained of sexual abuse and then was proved to be a confused liar. This was shocking for me as it conveyed a very wrong message. Sexual abuse of children is harsh reality of our society and also the fact that in most cases the victim is either herself or himself blamed or tried to be proved liar. Similarly, very wrong information is delivered on sensitive religious issues of divorce, khula, iddat, nikah, halalah etc which imparts grievous consequences on society. The sacred relationships like of brother or sister in law, near uncles and aunts are shown involved in lustful love affair which neither our religion nor our society allows.
In lieu of this crap, there is so much in complex Pakistani society to be picturised into a screen play.
The emerging socio-political changes of ideas and behaviors, the growing frustration of common masses, the dangerously depleting resources of water , energy and employment, the corruption in judiciary, bureaucracy and police, the national and international security threats, the plight of education, the life account of some internally displaced family, the confrontation of weak and mighty, the evil of yellow journalism, the flawed electoral system, the differences of young and old generation, these are few of those innumerable themes on which magnificent, artistic and historic dramas can be produced.
‘We sell what the consumers buy’. This argument of selling trash is baseless. The taste of audience is gradually developed. Until you present something of high quality, the burden of blame cannot be shifted to viewers.
Of course not every drama can be a classic. But at least one out of every ten dramas can be made creative and able to represent the broader issues of the society. Tradition of making dramas on historic event s should be revived. On the painful and significant incident of our history, the separation of East Pakistan in 1971, no drama has ever been produced in this country.
Writers and producers should realize it as a powerful tool to bring socio political change in the society and not as mere a source of cheap entertainment.