Pakistani drama writers understand that a drama needs a strong storyline and well etched-out characters in order to engage the viewers and leave a lasting impression. Nowadays many writers bank on shortcuts to make their characters attractive therefore any character that fits the bill is highly appreciated. The bechari aurat is the easiest and most commonly used shortcut. Black and white characters are also considered an easy way to gain the sympathies of the viewers or to make them hate a character. What makes an on-screen character truly impressive is firstly when it is not clichéd, secondly, it is not one-dimensional and most importantly the viewers should be able to relate to the character. Whether the character is good, bad, or grey the motives and personality traits of the character should not confuse the viewers. If a character is unpredictable then that is great but logic comes before everything else.
Out of all the Pakistani dramas that aired in 2021 here is the list of those female characters that can easily be termed as the best:
Mehreen (Hum Kahan Ke Sachay Thay)
It won’t be wrong to say that Mehreen happens to be such a character which is rarely seen in a Pakistani drama. Writer Umera Ahmed has definitely brought something new to the table by giving so many layers to Mehreen. The best part about her character is how she always tries to fight and come up with solutions against all odds. Things have never been in Mehreen’s favor but she still tries to steer through whatever life pans out for her. The thing that sets her apart is how broken she is but never ever uses her miseries to seek sympathy or even validation from anyone. Mehreen happens to be the most misunderstood person in the family with almost everyone against her. In Pakistani dramas, where we get to see so many ‘bechari’ female characters, Mehreen definitely stands out that where as much as you feel for, you can also see why she behaves the way she does & that definitely makes her a very interesting character. Mahira Khan has definitely done justice to Mehreen’s character by portraying all the shades of her personality phenomenally.
When you look at Almas’s character in the drama serial Azmaish, the only word that comes to your mind is how ‘nurturing’ she is. Although we would’ve hoped that at least she had a bit more confidence and say in the matters concerning her daughter’s life but she was shown to be extremely submissive. This was again her way of being obliged and grateful to her second husband for providing a decent living to her daughter Nimra. Almas was someone who always had the best interest of everyone around her, even Shiza and Samreen who never truly respected or accepted her as their mother. Almas was always in a difficult situation but she still pushed through with patience and perseverance knowing this was the only way to keep the entire family together. Laila Wasti has always been graceful and she was at her finest in the drama serial Azmaish.
Minal’s character in the drama serial Dunk was definitely a breath of fresh air. It is always nice to see such characters who stand by the truth and push through no matter what. Minal stood by Haider when everyone, including his own family, disowned him and chose not to trust him. Minal did have her rough patches where she found it hard to stay firm. The best aspect about Minal’s character was her approach towards everything that Haider was going through and most importantly, never settling for half-baked explanations. Minal always looked for answers and the complete picture because she knew this was going to help her stay focused and also allow her to be with Haider in tough times. Minal chose to trust Haider when no one trusted him, making her a strong companion and a character as well. It was good to see Azekah Daniel playing such a substantial character that too convincingly.
Saira’s journey in the drama serial Dunk was full of ups and downs but the best part about her was her strength and courage as a woman to accept and shape her life accordingly. Saira lost her husband but she never once questioned his character and credibility. Saira understood that she had a young child, for whom she had to be strong. Saira and Humayun’s daughter was already facing so much at a tender age and although Saira took her time to mourn the loss of her husband, she realized that she had to pick herself up only for the sake of her child. Saira not only forgave Haider but chose to be a bigger person to understand how he was manipulated too. Yasra Rizvi is a measured performer and she got to showcase that in the drama serial Dunk.
The story of the drama serial Phaans was all about the survivor and it was nothing short of a treat to see a strong character like Zeba. She knew that she was going against the tide but she turned her misfortune into fuel that ignited the passion in her to fight for justice. Zeba was put through so much but she stayed focused because she knew she wanted to see her abuser behind the bars. At the beginning of the drama, Zeba was shown as a wise and intelligent girl and it was nice to see her character arc where she relied on herself and didn’t settle for what others offered to her. Zeba did find a strong support system in the form of her mother and Samad, but it was only because her courage was unwavering that they also found the courage to stand by her. Zara Noor Abbas gave Zeba’s character the right kind of treatment to make this performance as well as the character memorable.
Drama serial Laapata focused on the younger generation and the problems faced by them on different fronts in life. In Falak’s journey, her mistake was trusting the wrong person but the way she emerged from it showed how strong she was if she put her mind to something. Falak was fierce and self-sufficient but it didn’t turn her aloof or emotionally unavailable. She was always very much affected by what her family members went through. This is exactly why she kept everything to herself because she didn’t want her father to be upset. Another brilliant aspect of Falak’s journey was that she did not shy away from happiness and when life gave her the opportunity, she settled for it. Falak was someone who lived life her way and because she was always so sorted, she ended up winning the support of her family too. Sarah Khan was a perfect choice to play the character of Falak, she was a perfect mix of strong and sweet.
Fatima (Wafa Be Mol)
Wafa Be Mol is another drama serial that has quite a few characters which can easily be termed as cliched but it also has some exceptional characters and Fatima is one of them. Fatima is one of the most intelligent and caring young ladies we got to see in dramas this year. Her intelligent and nurturing nature makes her a really likable character. We look forward to her scenes and she never disappoints.
Although the story of the drama serial Mohlat was centered around Maham’s character, it won’t be wrong to say that Navera caught more attention because of the total contrast between Maham and Navera’s personalities. Navera always felt unwelcomed and unwanted, she suffered from low self-esteem but despite such grave circumstances, she still had the courage to stand by the right. Navera found the support she needed from her sister Rida and that was enough for her to understand how much potential she herself had. Navera was always neglected but she was so nurturing and understood what neglect and rejection do to you. This is exactly why she chose to be the complete opposite of that and with this, she was able to win everyone over. Navera’s journey wasn’t easy but her kindness and confidence turned things around for her. Komal Aziz Khan was definitely the star of this show and she brought a lot of warmth in a drama that was so focused on the negativity churned out by Maham.
Rida’s character was definitely fun to watch. She was the kind of person who had a very easy-going approach to life. Rida was someone who would always look for comedy in situations but that didn’t mean she did not understand the intricacies of relationships, circumstances, and life. In so many instances, Rida always used to be the voice of reason and because she never took things to her heart, she believed in seeing things for what they were and calling spade a spade. This is what made Rida’s character so special and enjoyable to watch. Sabeena Farooq’s effortless acting and dialogue delivery made this character a lot more special.
Bubbly is a one-of-a-kind character from the drama serial Parizaad which breaks stereotypes and highlights so many important aspects about people who cannot identify with the gender they are born with. The reason for this ‘confusion’ and the conflict within Bubbly has been shown with utmost clarity. You feel for this character and it helps you learn more about people who face similar struggles. It is always great to see writers penning down such exceptional characters. Saboor Aly’s performance also raised the bar really high.
Haider’s Mother (Fitoor)
In the drama serial Fitoor, it won’t be wrong to say that the only wise and rational character was Haider’s mother played beautifully by Ismat Zaidi. She saw how hard her only child has struggled and how long it took him to move past the heartbreak, therefore she was adamant to turn things around. She was the kind of mother who understood and adored her son but was also not afraid to call him out when she felt he was losing sight of rationality. She did what it takes to make her daughter-in-law Dilnasheen feel welcomed and a part of the family. She realized that because Haider was still preoccupied with the thoughts of Mehmal, it was affecting his relationship with Dilnasheen and for that, she was being the voice of reason and called spade a spade. In Pakistani dramas, it is a rarity to find such mothers-in-law who do not turn a blind eye to the faults of their own sons, therefore this character is not only refreshing but the best one from the drama serial Fitoor.
Afreen was a breath of fresh air in the drama serial Aulaad which had many selfish and negative characters. Afreen was a woman who was caring and loving, even though her husband did not support his parents but she always tried her best to make her husband understand that he was not being fair. She had some really positive traits but she was not been able to ‘help’ her husband or his family the way she would have wanted to. Even though she disagreed with her husband on so many things but she went along with whatever he decided and did so without coming across as a bechari. The writer through this character showed that sometimes the daughters-in-law can give the kind of love to their parents-in-law which the sons do not. Since there were two other daughters-in-law in the drama who were selfish and manipulative, Afreen balanced out this negativity and kept the portrayals from being stereotypical. Sunita Marshal pulled off this character elegantly throughout hence making it stand out.
We were genuinely pleased to see an accurate representation of people with special needs in Aulaad. Mooni was one such character who had certain challenges because of which her parents had to constantly struggle to keep her situation from getting worse. Since every character in this drama served a bigger purpose, we feel that Mooni also served the purpose of making people see that such people need unconditional love. They are also sensitive and loving individuals who are easily disturbed if they are met with challenges that are incredibly overwhelming. Through this character, the writer also showed how important the support of the entire family is in order to keep such family members from feeling alienated. Mooni’s tragic ending was one of the most emotional moments of this drama. Qudsia Ali’s effortless portrayal made the viewers fall in love with her character. Mooni’s exit from the drama proved to be a turning point for many characters in the drama.
Sumbul (Dil Na Umeed Tu Nahin)
Sumbul was the main lead in drama serial Dil Na Umeed Tu Nahin. Despite of everything that happened to her, she never gave up and continued fighting for her freedom. Her backstory was presented on screen in such a way that the viewers had no difficulty relating to who Sumbul was and what shaped up her personality from the start. She was sold to Surraya auntie at a young age and even though she had been living this life for so long, she did not only wish to be free herself one day but she had a bigger objective of freeing all the other girls as well. Strong, sensitive, fearless, and wise, Sumbul was the kind of leading lady who reaffirms our faith in Pakistani dramas. Her journey was carried forward convincingly and her ending was perfect. Yumna Zaidi’s brilliant performance has definitely added more intensity to this character.
Najma (Dil Na Umeed Tu Nahin)
Dil Na Umeed Tu Nahin had so many strong supporting characters, Najma was one of them. Najma was a mother who supported her daughters even though it required going against her husband’s will most of the time. She was not a rebel but an intelligent woman who made a difference bit by bit. The character had been written down logically and translated on screen convincingly. She was a caring and nurturing woman who fought against all odds and was wise enough to know the challenges she faced. Samiya Mumtaz made Najma’s character a treat to watch because she brought out her gentle and caring nature superbly on screen.
Surraya (Dil Na Umeed Tu Nahin)
Surraya auntie ran a brothel and she was once a young girl who was sold just like all the other girls who worked for her. She lacked empathy; she was also highly manipulative and materialistic. This was another character that aptly represented a vicious circle. Even though she was once a victim of human trafficking, she did not think twice before putting the girls’ lives in danger. She learned to be cruel at a young age therefore all she cared about were material gains. The way she exploited girls and manipulated them was presented so well on screen. Her ending showed how she too was no more than a puppet in the hands of those who were behind the scenes running everything. Navid Shehzad was absolutely phenomenal in this role.
Hajra (Raqeeb Se)
In the drama serial Raqeeb Se, the writer Bee Gul has brought forth such a situation which has probably not been seen before in any other Pakistani drama. Through the character of Hajra, the writer has shown how big-hearted a woman can be, how selfless she can be and when she puts her mind to it, how nurturing she can be for everyone around her. Hajra loved her husband and justified it every step of the way and this is why she put everyone around her in perplexity when they saw her calmness and selflessness. Hajra’s love for Maqsood was her strength, which made her selfless to accept the fact that her husband can share his life with a woman he had loved all his life. Hajra was like the binding force of this entire family and although she never gave herself enough credit, she was an integral part of Maqsood’s life who provided him the home, the comfort he needed after all that he went through. Sania Saeed breathed life into this character and made it a lot more special.
Sakina (Raqeeb Se)
Sakina had a tough life, she knew that she won’t be able to find happiness in her life but she chose to pay the price in order to ensure the safety and life of the man she loved. Sakina was full of secrets but she chose silence over everything because she came to terms with what her life had offered her. She loved Maqsood all her life but just because she realized that he has a life of his own, she felt burdened being around him. Sakina never denied loving Maqsood but her respect towards him was bigger than the love she had for him. Hadiqa Kiyani’s portrayal of Sakina was so measured that actually made you feel her pain. This character wouldn’t have left such an impact if it wasn’t for Hadiqa Kiyani’s brilliant performance.
Insha (Raqeeb Se)
As is evident from many of the names included in this list, we absolutely love strong female protagonists who use their strength wisely. Insha was one such character from Raqeeb Se. She was a working woman who was raised by her father in such a way so that she could be completely independent. She was also extremely sensitive which is why she noticed when her father did not love her mother the way she deserved to be loved. Insha was a feminist with a heart of gold. Her relationships were used in an effective manner to show her strengths and weaknesses. This character wouldn’t have been so impactful had Faryal Mehmood not translated it superbly on screen. Insha will surely be remembered for a long time.
Nargis (Pehli Si Mohabbat)
Nargis was fierce, she was confident and she was sorted. Nargis had dealt with her fair shares of heartbreak and had seen the ugliest side of life up close, therefore she came to the point that whatever her life was offering her, she had to cherish and value it. This is exactly why she turned out to be such a dutiful and sincere wife and accepted her stepdaughter with all her heart. Nargis was the kind of person who liked to empower others around her even if it meant she had to give up and nurture it by sacrificing a great deal. Nargis’ character was so layered but the best part about her was that she treated people the way they deserve to be treated – she could be your absolute best friend or your total nightmare, given what you wanted her to be. Nargis was wise, intelligent, and had a very distinct perspective towards life. The best part about Nargis was that she never shied away from speaking her mind and she was always right. It won’t be wrong to say, this is one character that has put Rabia Butt’s name on the map. Nargis was definitely the best character seen in a Pakistani drama this year. She is going to stay with the viewers for a long long time.
Zainab (Pehli Si Mohabbat)
Zainab had faced rejection, sadness, and heartbreak, and although she had come to terms with it, she was still recovering. The sad part was that because her own family, especially her brother and her mother chose not to hear her out and trust her, she found it hard to move on. Zainab was a depiction of helpless and hopeless women in society who could have had a better chance at life but were ripped off of their happiness. It was beautiful how despite not having much to give, she at least understood what her younger brother was facing and was always there to support him. Zainab came up with some of the most profound advice for Aslam and the relationship she shared with him was simply beautiful. Uzma Hassan was at her finest in Pehli Si Mohabbat and it won’t be wrong to say, she and Rabia Butt were the only good thing about this entire drama.
Pardes was an exceptional drama serial that had so many different characters. Zubaida was the leading lady in the drama whose journey was covered in a convincing manner. Through this character, the writer highlighted the troubles of all those women who had to raise their children on their own and had to constantly compromise. Even though Zubaida always put everyone else before her own self, she was somehow a likable character. She lived her life in a dignified manner and got the kind of ending which was gratifying. Shaista Lodhi made a really intelligent move by choosing to play this role and she did complete justice to it.
Aimen’s journey in Pardes started when she was a kid. The viewers watched this kid witnessing the double standards of her immediate family. She also witnessed how her father’s absence and everyone’s selfishness made her childhood bitter and her mother’s life difficult. She grew up to be an outspoken and confident young woman who had certain vulnerabilities and insecurities as well. However, she always spoke her mind whenever she felt that someone was not being fair. Her character was the center of attention for all the right reasons. Durr-e-Fishan acted brilliantly throughout, making Aimen a memorable character.
Noor (Aakhir Kab Tak)
It is always refreshing watching strong female characters on screen. Noor is one such character from Aakhir Kab Tak who is fierce, intelligent, loving, and caring. Even though she was raised in a household where she watched her mother suffering constantly, she refused to accept the norms set by her family. Her character has been etched out brilliantly because there isn’t a single situation where she uses her confidence in a way that would make the viewers question her. Her character has played a major role in bringing about much-needed changes in the way things work in the house. She has through her insight and knowledge turned her father’s business into a complete success. If it weren’t for Noor, her mother would never have realized all the mistakes which she made. Ushna Shah’s brilliant performance makes this character even more likable.
Fajar (Aakhir Kab Tak)
Fajar’s character is completely different from Noor’s; she lacks confidence and depends entirely on her sister for support. Her character perfectly and aptly shows how constant disapproval and scorning affect a child’s personality. Even though Fajar lacks confidence and is socially awkward, she has always been shown as someone who is completely capable of critical thinking. The only reason she was targeted by her class fellow to be the next victim was her timid personality. The writer has through this character shown that rape victims cannot just move on after finding a partner who loves them but they need help from professionals. Usually, such characters are one-dimensional but Fajar’s character isn’t so. Srha Asghar’s performance makes this character even more convincing.
Safia (Aakhir Kab Tak)
For the longest time, Safia was the weakest character in the drama serial Aakhir Kab Tak and perhaps also one which we have seen in dramas many times before. What makes her eligible for this list is the fact that this character underwent a massive transformation which was shown realistically. Even when Safia was being physically and verbally abused by her husband and other people in the house, the writer used this character to send such a strong message to all the mothers out there about how not to raise their children! Although there are many dramas in which such helpless mothers are shown but Safia’s struggles truly resonated with the viewers because the impact they had on her life and on her children’s lives had been shown on screen so aptly. Apart from this, the change in her character has been the best. Javeria Abbasi’s impressive performance made it even easier for us to relate to this well-written character.
This completes the list of best female characters seen in Pakistani dramas this year. Which one of these is your favorite? Feel free to add more names and share your opinion in the comment section below.
One of my favourite list. All of them are my favourite. Only Mahapara of Rang Mahal is missing but it’s very good list
How does Haider’s mother in Fitoor come in here? All the characters in Fitoor were uniformly regressive and awful…all I can think to support her inclusion is that the writers made her sick and die off in the end, so she came off supportive!
Her admission let haider to forgive his wife.
All the main female characters in Aakhir Kab Tak, as you’ve pointed out, are fabulous. Layered and complex(especially Fajar), they are real women👍
Zubaida and safia both are weak characters, never stood either for their nor for kids rights. Likable characters should be a strong one.