I left watching TV dramas and serials years ago. In my late childhood I had watched a few of them with some of my relatives while staying at their places during my school vacations as we were not allowed to listen any song or watch movies, dramas, etc (except those with religious and historical touches) by my parents for some reasons (best known to them only) even when they agreed to have a television. I too never showed any keen interest in watching them even when I got a laptop of my own and came to live in hostels. But over the last few weeks, I watched some Pakistani TV shows on YouTube after watching a trending episode just out of curiosity. I had a two-fold objective behind watching them- to improve my Urdu (Greater Hindi) and to get a glimpse of the social, cultural and psychological dynamics of the Pakistani society and let me frankly admit that I could relate myself and the north Indian culture to many of them in many different ways. Some of the best things that I liked about them include-

PLOT- The plot generally revolves around the issues of women empowerment with a strong focus on inter-class/caste mobility generally depicted by way of ultimate triumph of romance and marriages between persons belonging to different classes/castes. While the stubborn mentality of the rigorous caste system no longer survives with the same intensity and fervor as in Hindus of India but the leftovers of the Brahminical past and caste mentality can still be found confronting and confusing gradually Islamised individuals and families in the form of classism, regionalism, racism, etc. In many of these shows, while rich and elite families do not hesitate in marrying their children in lower class families even though with heavy and sorrowful hearts but they also take no time in severing all kinds of relationships and contacts with them under immense social pressure. But egalitarian Islamic values gradually force them to overlook cruel social and cultural dynamics and accept the established relationships with respect.

In ‘Do Bol’ the story revolves around a loyal servant boy from a lower class background who falls in love with the beautiful daughter of his master and is finally able to get her in marriage in a respectful manner after so much resistance. In ‘Woh Mera Dil Tha’ an influential businessman forcibly marries his only daughter to an unemployed youth after discovering that he was trying to run away with her. But he is unable to reconcile with this situation because of his classist grudges though he had also spent his childhood in poverty. In ‘KhudParast’ a wealthy and orthodox Muslim family does not hesitate in taking brides from poor backgrounds in simple Nikah ceremonies but the family members who later betray the Islamic principles and harm innocent souls suffer badly in the last. In ‘Cheekh’ a young lady falls out with the powerful family of her husband and risks her own life when she declares an all-out war for justice after discovering that her brother-in-law had attempted rape on her poor friend and had mercilessly killed her on her refusal. In ‘Lamhay’, a boy from a wealthy landlord family gradually falls in love with a poor girl working in his Haveli and faces lots of difficulties but after so many tests and trials he is finally able to continue his Nikah (marriage contract) with her in an honorable manner. This show also deals with the allegedly controversial practice of Wani.

‘Baandi’ is the story of a poor girl ‘Meeru’ who suffers badly because of the harsh nature of the society towards the lower classes. When her father falls in the debt trap of a powerful Wadera (Zamindar/landlord), she is sent to a city to work as a maid-servant in a well-off family to protect her honor but the cruel Wadera is able to ravish her there as well. A boy from the same family falls in love with her and when he later becomes a police officer, he does not hesitate in arresting his own parents and getting them strictly punished for the horrific burn injuries that they had caused to her in order to kill her. He later marries her with her consent. 

‘Ranjha Ranjha Kardi’ speaks about the remnants of untouchability in Pakistani society. A poor girl ‘Noori’ comes from the community of rag-pickers who lived in a filthy environment. She is shunned by everyone but is lovingly adopted and taken care by a learned old lady who also teaches her Holy Quran. Whenever confronted on these issues by ladies of the high classes, she would shut their mouth by referring to Islamic injunctions which prohibit such discriminations. Under her aegis, this girl performs better than high-class children especially in the matters of learning and education. Later she got a job in a factory and falls in love with a high-class boy but he rejects her because of her background. After facing so many tests and trials, the learned old lady somehow marries her to a specially abled boy in a Syed family. She faces rejection and discrimination there too when her in-laws discover her past but after her persistent struggles, she is finally able to win them over. This show also deals with the issues of mental health.

Apart from excellent depiction of these inter-class/caste struggles and romances, these shows have much more to offer about other social realities which I cannot express in words here but can only say that if this war between egalitarian Islamic values and cruel social practices (left-overs of Hindu-Brahmanism) as shown in these TV dramas is also happening in reality on ground and the winner is the former and not the latter, then Pakistani society is surely changing for the better and the land of Indus is once again on the way of a great civilization in the making if the Almighty so wills-Inshallah.

LANGUAGE- The shows are in the beautiful Urdu language that can be easily understood. The characters speak so fluently and smoothly that everything appears natural and original. Some of the Hindi/Urdu words that I learnt while watching them can be accessed HERE.

DIALOGUES AND ACTING– When it comes to dialogues and acting, it would not be extreme to say that they are one of the best and one cannot remain unimpressed after listening and watching them. Many of the dialogues also have a moral and religious connotations that are sure to touch one’s soul. To refer some of them-

  • Neki ka raasta chaahe jitna dushwaar-guzar ho, manjil bahut khoobsurat hoti hai.
  • Apne gunaho ka aiteraaf kar lo, is duniya mein saza milegi par aakhirat mein maafi ki gunjaayish badh jaayegi. 
  • Maa se bad-kalaami na kiya karo. Maa raazi to rab raazi. 
  • Ishq-e-Haqiqi insan ke kirdaar ko buland karta hai.
  • Allah apne bando ko kabhi hurt nahi karta, wo to bas aajmaata hai aur uski aazmaish par shikwe nahi karna chahiye
  • Jab koi musalsal dastak de raha ho, to band darwaaje khol diya karte hain aur khas taur par us surat mein jab dastak dene wala apna ho. 
  • Achhi baate wo hoti hai jo aasaan alfaaz mein dusro ko apna matlab samjha dein.
  • Allah ko maante ho to poori tarah maano aur reham karo kyunki wo reham ko pasand karta hai
  • Allah Ta’ala farmaate hai ki baap ke gunaaho ka badla bete se aur bete ke gunaaho ka badla baap se nahi liya jaayega 
  • Miya-Biwi ke darmiyan shak paida karna gunaah-e-kabeera hai aur ye kaam shaitaan ka pasandeeda hai. 
  • Shaitaan jitna chahe fitna failaaye, Rehmaan (Almighty) se bada nahi ho sakta. 
  • Kisi mazloom se saamna ho to uske saamne khuda ko khada kar ke dekho aur kisi zaalim se saamna ho to khuda ko apne saath khada kar ke dekho.

NO PROFANITY– The other good thing about these dramas is that they can be easily watched and enjoyed with family members of all ages and there is no need for anyone to creep inside the bed or leave the room on pity excuses. 

DURATION– We often get discouraged by very long TV drams or lose our interest in them later and it has been found that audiences remain interested in dramas that are of shorter duration. And the good thing about Pakistani dramas is that they are of short durations and generally have 20-30 episodes of 35-40 minutes each. 

MESSAGE– Since most Pakistani dramas have an in-depth storyline that gives us the real picture of the society and by doing so there is an acknowledgment of the evils prevalent therein, the message they give is to strive to bring an effective end to such unjust and discriminatory social practices that militate against the principles of Islamic egalitarianism. The other message is of restoring the high and respectful status of women and preventing their objectification in a deeply patriarchal society. Culture of suppression of womankind and of other marginalized sections has been shown to be against Islam and prophetic injunctions. War against religious hypocrisy also finds place in these dramas along with inculcation of good family and social values in which there a mutual respect and regard for each other. And last but not the least that it is the truth that wins and not the falsehood.

Shaitaan (Satan) jitna chahe fitna failaaye, Rehmaan (the Almighty) se bada nahi ho sakta. 

A dialogue in ‘Dil Mom ka Diya’