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10 Nov

TV with a conscience?

Gone are the days when every channel had the same old saas bahu saga, family drama or love triangle going on. We are more than happy to be able to choose from a generous variety of shows that have finally gone beyond those factors, and have come up addressing important issues that have been ignored for far too long. With a couple of shows popping up regarding different matters, we wondered whether this new twist in storylines is merely a trend or if more can come out of it.

To answer our questions we turned to the renowned villain of Udaari, Ahsan Khan, who brought some interesting insight regarding the matter. Ahsan spoke of how in a place where education is not a priority for the authorities; one needs to try his best to educate people regarding such issues. Plus with such less options for entertainment amongst the masses, television is a great source to do so. Ahsan claims as an actor it is his moral duty to push directors and producers into making something sensible, which is also why he has turned down six scripts since Udaari. We definitely stand with Ahsan and hope this is not a short-lived change, but actually a huge step towards making a noticeable difference.

Of course as commendable as the effort of addressing societal issues is, some have been more successful than others in doing so effectively.

 

Udaari

As Ahsan said, Udaari has actually changed the face of the drama industry. It is impossible to get over what a hit Udaari was, so of course it comes on top of our list for starting this revolution of change. Addressing the horrifying issue of pedophilia and child abuse, plus the star cast, all contributed in making Udaari a phenomenal success. It is safe to say we had never seen anything similar on a local TV channel, and perhaps that added to the impact of it all.

Sanam

An example of a failed venture might be Sanam. After forcing ourselves to watch the first couple of episodes we, along with many others, lost interest around the fifth one.

Sanam set off with a slow start, but we convinced ourselves that since it is addressing the taboo topic of mental well being, it has to be worth it. However the mousy characters were far too familiar to Mann Mayal, and that torture was enough for most of us. Sanam has also been critiqued for not being able to handle the topic of bi-polar disorder well enough, as so far it has only shown Aila (played by Hareem Farooq) as a crazy jealous wife, complete with some villainous background music. Not only did it need a better storyline (and maybe some better lead characters too), the issue itself could perhaps have been addressed with more sensitivity and tact.


Khuda Mera Bhi Hai

It’s probably unfair to judge a show by its promos but we are guilty of doing so, and it definitely had us hooked even before it started. Khuda Mera Bhi Hai revolves around a strong willed girl who gives birth to an intersex child, and the ordeal she faces for wanting to keep the child. Living in a country where we see transvestites on every corner, yet only a few of us actually care about the dire circumstances they face, the plea for awareness in the promos hit home.

We are relieved that it only took a minimal number of episodes to establish the characters and the last episode has already launched into the birth of the child, which is the main concept of the show. Our hopes are high and spirits are up because the plot seems to be fast-paced so far and KMBH has proven to be captivating enough to have us stay at home on a Saturday night.

Furthermore from similar dramas that haven’t aired yet, we are looking forward to Sammi and Ilteja, starring Mawra Hocane and Tooba Siddiqui respectively. Sammi too revolves around a social cause and is in collaboration with John Hopkins, though we are yet unaware of the plot we are expecting big things. Meanwhile Ilteja has to do with a mother raising a Down syndrome child, and we are hoping it sets a much-needed example for shows that want to address mental or health disorders.

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Mariam Tahir

The author is Assistant Editor at Something Haute, plus a fashion student who loves reading, traveling, eating and sleeping but manages to find time in between to write.