Dramas entertain and enlighten at the same time, the media in general and the dramas in particular can play a major role in changing mindsets and highlighting issues which are considered tabooed. There are also those sections of our society which are largely put into boxes and some of these dramas challenge stereotypes in the most impeccable manner. while some drama focus specifically on subjects and scenarios which guarantee commercial success, there are others which have a definite focus and a bigger purpose. Unfortunately, there are also those dramas which are promoted as issue-based dramas but the actual intent is to grab the attention of the viewers by using topics such as sexual abuse and domestic violence. Sadly enough, most of the times these dramas which simply ‘use’ these serious issues to grab public attention get more viewership than those dramas which actually deliver what they promised.
Through this article I want to appreciate the efforts of all those writers, directors and actors who chose to be part of projects which were ‘risky’ and succeeded in highlighting issues which are crucial and relevant. Anyone can play it safe and win TRPs but it takes someone truly dedicated to write about topics which are controversial and tabooed.
Here is the list of the most phenomenal recent Pakistani dramas which highlighted important issues. The list is in Alphabetical order.
Writer: Faiza Iftikhar
Director: Ali Faizan Anchan
Producer: Connect Studios
Baba Jani questioned many stereotypes and gave the viewers an unconventional hero. The viewers get to see plenty of dramas which highlight the plight of women – the challenges they face and how hard it gets for women to juggle so many different things at the same time. Baba Jani was one of the very few dramas which showed how challenging it was for a man to keep a balance when he was being pressurized from every direction. The best aspect of this play was that it showed a man who actually managed to keep it all together unlike other dramas which very often show that a man in such a situation sometimes ends up being unfair to his parents/siblings and most often to his wife and children.
This drama also showed how this man, Asfand, raised his step-daughter as his own even though he was under great pressure. Baba Jani also highlighted the role of the society and how people make things more difficult for others by gossiping about things which don’t concern them. The way his sisters’ role was shown was also important because it must have given all such sisters something to reflect upon. Do we expect too much from our brothers and sons sometimes? Men are always expected to be strong, to be the support system of the entire family but is it really easy for them to keep a balance? Well, Baba Jani raised all these questions and answered them beautifully too. This drama also presented an example for all those men out there who very often expect their wives to compromise and fail to keep the balance.
Writer: Zafar Mairaj
Director: Kashif Nisar
Producer: MD Productions
Inkaar is one of the most phenomenal dramas of recent times because of its approach towards issues which are not just relevant but have also been put forward in the most convincing manner. This drama has so much to offer since every issue raised in this drama has been addressed in detail. The central idea of this drama is to highlight the importance of consent in a relationship. Very often we see rape victims being held accountable for the injustice done to them because they were raped by the man who was their ‘friends’. Apart from this, Inkaar also highlights a woman’s right to choose her own spouse, her prerogative to say no when she deems it fit. This drama has beautifully shown how important it is for girls to take a stand for themselves even when they feel that they will face opposition and oppression.
Inkaar is not the first drama which has dealt with such an issue but it is definitely the first one which has done so with utmost precision. The writer has done a special favor to his viewers by making them understand why men like Rehan think that they ‘own’ the women/girls they are in a relationship with. It also highlights the importance of nurturing – no one is born evil, the way someone is brought up plays a major role in defining their personalities. This drama also shows how important it is for the families to support girls who have been wronged and it does so while keeping things real. Inkaar raises issues, highlights mindsets and is also inspirational.
Mera Rab Waris
Writer: Jahanzeb Qamar
Director: Asad Jabbal
Producer: 7th Sky Entertainment
Mera Rab Waris can easily be termed as a commercial play but the main protagonist of this play and the way her trials have been shown highlights an important and relevant issue. All those women out there who observe strict pardah can probably relate to whatever Ayesha has gone through and is going through since right from the first episode her pardah has been the main topic of discussion. The way Ayesha sticks to her values, is sure about her choices and tries her best to remove stereotypes has been the best part of a drama which isn’t as good as rest of the dramas in this list but definitely deserves a spot here. Social stereotyping is something which most women face on daily basis, most often based on what they choose to wear. There aren’t a lot of dramas which address such issues. This drama does so with precision and shows the vulnerabilities and strengths of the main protagonist beautifully making the story more relatable. It shows that sometimes women who observe pardah and have a certain set of values face more challenges than women who decide to follow a path which more acceptable socially. This drama also shows the hypocrisy of the society and their inability to accept individual choices.
Ranjha Ranjha Kardi
Writer: Faiza Iftikhar
Director: Kashif Nisar
Producer: MD Productions
Ranjha Ranjha Kardi was an exceptional play which was both entertaining as well as educational. Through this play and the character Bhola, the writer told the story of all such people out there who are most often ignored by people because there are certain stereotypes attached to them. People with special needs who are often seen on the streets are most often scorned off or are treated as individuals who are void of feelings. By introducing a man with special needs in this drama in such a way that people couldn’t help falling in love with him, the team of this play changed this perception forever. This drama also highlighted how people with such needs or disabilities also need acceptance and love, just like everyone else out there. Therefore, when they are rejected, they feel hurt just like anyone else would.
Ranjha Ranjha Kardi was truly one-of-a-kind drama which redefined the term ‘hero’ and in a very intelligent manner asked people to have more empathy for people like Bhola. This was dangerous territory for sure but Ranjha Ranjha Kardi was a commercial success and it got critical acclaim as well.
Writer: Amna Mufti
Director: Ahmed Kamran
Producer: Moomal Entertainment
Zun Mureed was a different journey altogether. This was not the first time that a drama which dealt with the problems which women face in a male dominated society was made. This was however the first time that a writer attempted and succeeded in shedding light on the issue that making laws is not enough, ensuring that they get implemented swiftly and most importantly changing the mindset of the people is the biggest challenge. The main protagonist Tabbasum’s journey throughout showed that she had more critics than supporters. On the other hand, there were so many people who endorsed what her husband Sajjad did. This drama showed how important it was for women to respect themselves and not to allow their spouses to abuse them in any way.
There was an important message for men in this drama too and it was one which most certainly was not easy to accept. This is the reason why this drama was criticized a lot too! Relationships come first and ego comes second, if people start sacrificing their relationships to satisfy their egos than the fate which awaits their children was clearly shown in this drama. For all those receptive viewers out there, this drama had a great deal to offer. This was the kind of drama which raised quite a few important questions but at the same answered some too! I truly appreciate the way it was shown how the children get affected in such a situation. Children need their parents to work together in order to run the house and make them feel secured. So many stereotypes were challenged in Zun Mureed and the mentality behind hitting women was explored as well. The most important aspect was that the last episode highlighted how vital equality and respect was in a marriage.
Do share your thoughts about the dramas in this list and don’t forget to add more names of recent dramas which highlighted an important message with utmost clarity. I will look forward to your feedback.