Watching a Pakistani drama serial these days is like attempting to walk your way through quick sand. You accidentally stumble into it but then the more you move the deeper it sucks you in. You start watching it for the actors you like – for example, I watch Sammi for Mawra Hocane, Sania Saeed and Adnan Siddiqui; I watch Dil Banjara for Sanam Saeed and Adnan Malik, everyone watches Khan for Noman Ijaz – but then mid way through you realize that not every drama you have signed up for is entertaining. By then it’s too late to abandon it.
Something ominous happened in the last one decade that took our television from intelligent and entertaining to dark, cumbersome and preachy. One misses the freshness of Ankahi or Tanhaiyaan; the light heartedness of a Fifty Fifty or Aangan Terha. We’ve waded into a deep pit of storylines looking to convolute love and marriage in every way possible. Barring several sitcoms – that are slapstick, possibly another form of torture – a majority of plays on TV these days are peddling a social cause, revolving around a tragic love story or a catastrophic family saga; it’s rona dhona galore. Watching the average TV play you’d be forgiven for believing that no one is happy in Pakistan, at least the women aren’t.
I started watching Dil Banjara for the cast and the fact that it had been shot in Nepal. It was supposed to be a light hearted story about young people falling in love; the backdrop was supposed to be magnificent. But that ended after a few episodes and Nida (Sanam Saeed) has been weeping ever since. Whether it’s for falling in love, being betrothed to the wrong man, ending her commitment to the wrong man, finding out that her true love is marrying someone else or that her true love’s betrothed has lost her mother. Nida has been crying and to some effect Sikander has been sobbing too. This is not what one signed up for.
Sammi was placed under the lens of ‘social drama’ even before it aired so one expected a dose of melodrama and tragedy. That said, wani was heavy duty enough and did more than its fair share of focusing on the trials of the girl child; did the writer really have to throw in Rashid and Salima’s rona dhona over not having a son too? One would have wanted to see more of Sammi and her journey/evolution but she’s been weeping since episode one. We end up seeing more of Salima’s frustrations than Sammi’s. Even Rashid the hitman was crying in the latest episode. To be fair, there are strong willed and inspirational characters in this drama serial – Sania Saeed as Chandni the parlour wali is my favourite, followed by Nadia Afghan as Nahid and Madiha Rizvi as the Chaudhryan. But they are overshadowed by the cloud of doom and gloom.
Khuda Mera Bhi Hai took up the plight of the transgender community and so one expected it to be tragic. Rising to expectations (unfortunately), everyone has been crying and sobbing for over 20 weeks. The only character that provides some relief is Mahi’s mother, Saba Hameed, who as always plays a motivational role.
Woh Aik Pal started on Saturday night and one had a lot of expectations from it but it can be safely predicted that Uneza’s (Aisha Khan) sob-story will also begin from episode 2. It is evident that Arish (Feroze Khan) will be overemotional for the mess he’s gotten himself into. His fiancé Hina will get hysterical when she loses him to an older woman and the whole serial will become one overcomplicated mess of emotions. There’s another sob fest on the horizon.
Khan is one drama that has managed to step out of the family-saga into a whirlpool of political power play but even Khan is no easy, happy watching. It’s dark, brooding and full of twists, turns and intrigues. However, one line in the latest episode stole our heart.
“Bas, band kar do yeh rona dhona, koi faida nahin hai in aansoon ka,” Jamil (Aijaz Aslam) says to his wife. We want to say the same to all the writers out there. Enough.
All that was some really viscous weekend watching, which is why it was so refreshing to end it with the first episode of Season 4 of Tonite with HSY. There was some relief in the light hearted banter between host Hassan Sheheryar Yasin and his first guests Osman Khalid Butt and Ainy Jaffri. Though the Balu Mahi angle was a little outdated now that the film is quite old, but nevertheless, the episode did end the weekend on a feel-good note.
This article was originally published in Instep, 14th March 2017.