The golden age of Pakistani dramas
By Abdullah (01-153212-001) (TV-2)
If you remember PTV dramas such as “Andhera Ujala”, “Fifty Fifty”, “Alif Noon”, “Waris”, “Tanhayaan”, “Dhoop kinare”, “Aanghan terha” and “Ye rah mushkil nahi” and the most memorable “Alpha Bravo Charlie” then congratulations you are one of the lucky people who witnessed the glorious age of Pakistan Television. It was a time when drama writers had the ability to write simple yet profound stories. The themes varied from religion, spirituality, family values, women and social issues. One of the prominent writers of that time was “Haseena Moin” the brain behind “Tanhayaan”, “Dhoop Kinare” and “Ankahi”. What made that era so great was how the already excellently written storylines were supported by superb acting. Shehnaz Sheikh, Javed Sheikh, Saleem Nasir, Jamshed Ansari, Behroze Sabzwari, Badar Khalil, Qazi Wajid, Azra Mansoor, Khalid Nizami, Arshad Mehmood, Tabassum Farooqui, Asif Raza Mir, “Moeen Akhter” and Durdana Butt are some of the prominent drama actors of that era.
What made these dramas so much better than the mediocre ones that succeeded them was the standard of acting that was kept. Every character was intricately written and the actors did justice to that character so much so that they are still remembered today. Consider the role of Salim Nasir (late) as “Akbar” in the comedy hit “Anghan Terha” written by Anwar Maqsood. The way Salim Nasir performed the character of the servant Akbar still makes us laugh when we revisit that drama.
Dramas then always centered on particular aspects of life, for example Anghan Terha despite being a comedy focused on the life of an honest retired government employee who is living with his wife and is struggling to make ends meet. Despite being a comedy, the show teaches us about community values, rights of neighbors, street politics and vices such as corruption. Today no comedy sitcom can match the storytelling of Anghan Terha. Comedies of today do revolve around families but the quality of dialogue is so pathetic that even the good actors have to struggle to keep the show running.
In the last 10 years, we have mostly seen dramas of the same type, revolving around banal family issues which focus majorly on conflict within in-laws, conspiracies, violence by in-laws, divorces and now dramas have started to include controversial subjects such as extra-marital affairs. There is also nepotism involved due to which new talent isn’t able to emerge. There is no risk taking or out of the box thinking involved in writing dramas anymore. There are exceptions of course, dramas such as “Zindagi Gulzaar hai”, “Humsafar”, “Pyaare Afzal”, “Ehd-e-Wafa” and “Khuda aur Mohabbat” are brilliant and have received due praise. If the Pakistani drama industry wishes to gain its lost glory, it has to involve new thinkers, individuals who are experts in literature. The old excuse “We create what public wants to watch” has to go and risks need to be taken so storytelling can move into a new realm.