We are sick of the cheating husband and the evil sister!

Published: November 4, 2012

Stories from great writers, excellent acting, brilliant dialogues and flawless direction have set Pakistani television industry a notch above the rest.

I am proudly a Pakistani drama buff. I make sure I do not miss any episode of my favourite serial and love discussing every detail of them with my friends. I am proud of how these dramas have rid the nation of those who worshipped low quality soaps on Star Plus.

Stories from great writers, excellent acting, brilliant dialogues and flawless direction have set Pakistani television industry a notch above the rest. However in recent times I have been displeased to see a redundancy of some concepts and characters. It has been taxing to view the same characters being repeated on screen projecting an image of this country which is exaggerated and doesn’t hold true to every single case.

So here are the some of the characters our dramas need to get rid of right away:

1. The unfaithful husband:

Currently there are five dramas on air which I am following, where the husband is engrossed in an extra marital affair. I am sure this is happening a lot in our society, but for me the concept of the husband growing out of love with his wife, developing a fondness for someone else, finally marrying the “other woman” has been done and overdone!

It really put me off when a too full of himself Saim in “Yahan Pyar Nahin Hai” adamantly defended:

“So what sin have I committed! It is allowed in our religion to marry more than one time!”

All I wonder is how much inspiration has been given to men at home through this depiction over decades!

2. The jealous sister:

Sisters are supposed to be loving, caring and an epitome of kindness. Apart from the regular fights we all have, a sisterly bond is one which is enviable for all.

How then, did our drama writers get so inspired by Cinderella and her stepsisters?

Sisters stealing their brothers-in-law and dying out of jealousy to ruin their siblings’ life was a concept I could never digest. “Maat,” “Yahan Pyar Nahin Hai,” and “Madiha Maliha” all have one thought process in common:

“Main usko kabhi khush nahin rehne dungi.”

(I will never let her stay happy.)

I only pray to God, while watching these characters on screen, that they are entirely based on fiction and not reality.

3. The evil mother-in-law:

Writers, get over it! Mother-in-laws are nice too! It’s not always the same situation where a mother-in-law puts in a mountain of difficulties to create differences between her son and his wife. Why always make this character sound like the wicked witch of the West?

As good as we all thought “Humsafar” was, the message was the same as we have seen in a million other dramas:

“Wo mere betay ke laiq nahin hai.”

(She is not good enough for my son.)

I say, we need to start showing this character positively so that the bad saas feels ashamed and the good ones swell with pride! What do you think?

4. The alcoholic:

All that drinking they show on TV really makes me nauseous at times. One positive thing about Indian dramas is the extreme projection of their culture. From their clothes to their weddings to their mandirs (temples), everything spells tradition.

Why are we so consistent in showing somebody else’s culture then? Why are our actors getting drunk when distressed? Why is Rohail (Fawad Khan) in “Ashk”  always found in a bar when he is upset? Why is drinking a parameter to show “bad” in our dramas? It might be happening a lot in our society, but let’s not encourage it by showing it so openly on television. Please!

5. The other woman:

This is a character being increasingly scripted in our dramas, typically showing the “other woman” as a glamorous, well-dressed female who lures a man out of matrimony. She just has one thing to say:

“Ussey talaaq daido.”

(Divorce her!)

The wife, on the other hand, is the one with bedraggled hair, ordinary clothes ─ a too good to digest type. I really think we should break away from these clichés and depict a positive image for all those housewives who make up the greatest viewership of these shows.

6. The victimised woman:

My friend does not watch Pakistani dramas because she thinks they only show women being subjugated in every form possible ─ as a wife, as a daughter in law, as a mother and so on.

They are the ones being hit, they are the ones being confined to their homes, and they are the ones shown as suppressed by their husbands, their children and everyone else. Then all of them say in despair,

“Mere saath hi aisa kyun hua?”

(Why did this happen to me?)

The list of dramas with a victimised woman is laborious, as hardly any show running on air these days depicts a powerful character for a woman.

Many of our dramas have turned women into objects of pity. There is a dire need to project a positive image of women through this medium, and not only after they have been dumped by their husbands or have bore the atrocities of the world, but before that, as powerful journalists, businesswomen, pilots and mothers. Let’s not forget people follow these dramas and hence these characters religiously. Why not show them something positive?

These are the six clichés our drama industry could really do without and I ardently wait for the day to see this happen!

Read more by Saba here.

Saba Fatima Ali

Saba Fatima Ali

A final year medical student at Dow Medical College. She tweets @SabaFatimaAli (twitter.com/SabaFatimaAli)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • ignorantways

    @saba fatima ali
    after seeing the massive praises by the Cable TV lovers towards these dramas , what you think your words have any type of affection ??
    Empowerment of women is badly exploited by women itself . .
    since the last 3, 4 months so many girls and women busy in writing against (ET is the main platform of publishing ) the advertisement styles and Dramas . . . but no one pointing out the women’s priorities . . why women are doing this ??
    if advertisement haven’t any logic and the drama script is totally a fantasy why so called educated women (feminists also ) then agreed upon this ??
    and in the last if the writers really want to show the real social behaviors then these dramas are totally biased , unreal , for the sake of fake popularity only .
    elite class don’t know even a single dot about below poverty line people, poor people and lower middle class . . .

  • Hassan

    These topics attract women. It’s mostly aunties who watch dramas, and they love these type of stories. That’s why 95% dramas have a female lead who is nothing less than an angel.Recommend

  • http://facebook.com/syedahmed.adeel Adeel Ahmed

    I don’t watch dramas regularly but it is my interest in media that keeps me observing things and compare. I believe dramas are excellent driver of changing people. India is an excellent example of this. I wonder, today’s Pakistani drama is neither a reflection of today’s Indian drama nor it follows its marvelous past.

    Appreciate the writer has well covered the points and hope others support too. Pakistani drama must be changed. Recommend

  • Ameer,Chennai

    Dear Saba Fatima Ali,
    Can you explain to me in what ways are Star Plus dramas of low quality and Pakistani dramas of high quality? And please don’t give me the “great writers, excellent acting, brilliant dialogues and flawless direction” crap. All of us know how exceptionally intellectual or creative they are.
    -An Indian who is fed up of Pakistani’s imaginary superiority.Recommend

  • ss

    You just spoke my mindRecommend

  • Umair

    I usually don’t get time to watch dramas but the few dramas I have seen revolves around THE OTHER WOMEN. Who happened to be prettier, educated & groomed then wife. Despite of so many qualities THE OTHER WOMAN ultimately loses and unusually ordinary looking wife wins. This is unjustified why smart girls always lose. There should be more dramas on this susceptible topic as well. Recommend

  • Parvez

    Your skating on thin ice here. If you remove all these characters from TV dramas then what do you have left ???? Your concern seems to be with the thinking that television has a direct impact on society, but it’s supposed to act as a mirror and if the reflection comes across as larger than life, then so be it. This is a medium that’s doing well and I believe it has the capability to correct itself.Recommend

  • Saad Aziz

    coke kahani is looking quite good,i hope it gives pakistan television industry a new horizon,currently all the dramas made are mostly love stories,we need all the genre for our industry to surviveRecommend

  • Umar

    Not seeing that Star Plus crap on anymore is a huge relief. I no longer have to listen to nonstop explosions and strange music coming from the living room when I visit Pakistan. From the little I did see – the culture looked very alien to me. Maybe I sound superficial, but how did people ever relate to that stuff?Recommend

  • Ali

    An excellent read! A well-written article which speaks the minds of several drama followers I’m sure. Keep it up!Recommend

  • Faraz Merchant

    Dear Saba Fatima,

    Very well done. I totally agree with you. Our dramas can show inspirational things with positive attitude. If u remove the above six points discussed then to we can make a lot better drama. Drama in which people see other people happy and be happy not get jealous.
    Regarding Indian low quality dramas, they are low quality, I have never seen an Indian drama like our Thanhaiyaan, Angantara, Half plate, Doop Kinaray, Ankahi etc etc…Recommend

  • Sameera

    In todays never wracking lifestyle .. all what our enterinment indusrty have to offer is this repatitive stuff of intense negativity … and drams on digests stories.. seriously .. and then when we watch programs from across the ocean .. pplz shout that we dont support pakistani enterinment industry :) all is want to suggest is writers n creative directors kindly we hv entered new millinum and its been a decade also .. bars r raise and if u really mean to compete on content .. then its ty to work .. not copy n paste :P Recommend

  • Saba Fatima ALi

    @Faraz Merchant: Thanks , couldnt agree more:) Recommend

  • Saba Fatima ALi

    Thanks , glad u liked it~Recommend

  • Saba Fatima ALi

    Lol , feel bad to admit but there was a time when I used to watch starplus too , m glad Pakistani dramas saved me out of that bottomless pit!:PRecommend

  • Saba Fatima ALi

    @Saad Aziz:
    M looking forward to coke kahani too!Recommend

  • Saba Fatima ALi

    Lol , I dont like the concept of women sitting at home watching tv feeling like damsels in distress. If the audience is women , why not feed them something they can reflect onRecommend

  • Saba Fatima ALi

    @Adeel Ahmed:
    M glad u agree:)Recommend

  • Saba Fatima ALi

    Lol m really sorry Ameer if I offended you. Did not mean to. Will you allow me to suggest you some good pakistani dramas which you can watch and then compare yourself?…Lol we pakistanis accept the indian film industry is better and its more watched over here, you should give a shot at our dramas too :DRecommend

  • Saba Fatima ALi


  • Saba Fatima ALi

    Maybe because in fiction , “right: always wins and wrong always loses. LolRecommend

  • Saba Fatima ALi

    But really dont you think the victimized woman has been overdone? Lol. Every single drama shows a woman being tortured in some way or the other lol. There are SO many other subjects other then the ones mentioned here which can be written upon. Recommend

  • Saba Fatima ALi

    @ignorantways: I am a bit confused , are you trying to say women follow these dramas and also speak against them ?Recommend

  • Dr Saddam Hussain

    media claims that it shows, what people want to see. But in my opinion people see what media shows them , these extremely ghrailo type dramas are not different from one another. There was a time when our producers used to make dramas which fell a victim of bane by the government after only 2 or 3 episodes, now, there are many more serious issues which should be discussed but no one wants his or her drama to bring conflict…….Recommend

  • UHS

    Dear Author,

    These cliches will not leave our dramas as it is the main reason most people watch these dramas (sadly).

    I would suggest that you should now move on and start watching some quality TV. Shows like Breaking Bad, Dexter and Game of Thrones.Recommend

  • Khawar

    Point number 2 actually exists. I have had a bitter and personal experience of such a situation. Truth really is stranger than fiction.Recommend

  • Parvez

    @Saba Fatima ALi: Agree with you, but don’t you think that the ‘woman’ in Pakistan has been and is being victimised ? If this is being dramatised and portrayed a little larger than life and in a ‘in your face’ style, isn’t it a good thing ? The message is being hammered home because subtlety works only for a particular audience.
    Anyway, lets call a truce. Loved your article because it spoke of something current and immensely appreciated your response to all. Recommend

  • husband

    Nice idea ………Recommend

  • shuja ul islam

    if they remove all the bits u are complaining about..even you wouldn’t be watching the daramas..thats what our people want..thats what excites them..and i totally agree with alcoholic point…if they need a glass of scotch to remind us who is the bad guy..thn they definitely dont know what a BAD GUY is..!!:DRecommend

  • Ameer,Chennai

    Dear Saba Fatima Ali,
    Please do not apologise..You have just expressed your opinion as have I..And yes, I have gone through some youtube clips of popular dramas..They are definitely entertaining and remind me of Malayalam dramas in their subtle approach.
    P.S. We all are truly sick of the cheating husband and the evil sister.Recommend

  • RUdyslexic

    @Saba Fatima ALi: I used to love PTV dramas in the 80s (Dhoop Kinare, Tanhaiyaan, Ankahee etc.). When the Humsafar hoopla happened I saw that but was not impressed. If you have some recommendations of good Pakistanis dramas, would like to follow them. DO share your recommendations.

  • Mariam Huzaifa

    As you suggested lets forget about creative art and discuss story only. Anyway have you ever watched a Pakistani drama? Otherwise no sane person would claim superiority of Pakistani over Indian drama.
    1. I agree that Pakistani dramas show exceptional stories but Indian dramas show ridiculously impossible stories. lets say ,
    hero dying and coming back.
    In Parichay, everything is so obvious whole suspense is unfolded before hero still the story is being pulled like chewing gum.
    2. If every week you watch one episode and miss the rest of four episode, you can easily understand the whole story and that you’ll feel that you missed nothing the story still stuck there.
    3.There is not a single Indian drama in which atleast one character doesn’t die twice or one of the leading character is changed.
    4. Study drama as litrary genre and you’ll know that drama is supposed to come to an end when climax is reached .Indian dramatist miss this point and pulls the story in another direction.Recommend

  • Dev

    @Mariam Huzaifa:

    I would humbly put forth a simple assertion that “Star Plus” does not represent the “Indian Drama Industry”. It is a small part of it. Indian drama industry comprises large number of regional dramas which unfortunately Pakistanis cannot understand/ have access to. I can assure you that there is some amazing stuff out there. Coming from a Bengali background, I can vouch for some real good work that has come out of West Bengal!!Recommend

  • Mariah

    And we were so happy with all the stupid stuff Star Plus showed us for a decade. Recommend

  • I.

    Despite Whatever the world has issues with pak dramas,I’m SOOO glad that star-plus era has passed..!!Recommend

  • Mariam Huzaifa

    Your point does make sense! All Pakistani seem to have problem with Star plus and not Indian Drama. Thanks for giving a wider view :)Recommend

  • Saba Fatima ALi

    @Dr Saddam Hussain:
    you have some issues in mind that should be shown?Recommend

  • Saba Fatima ALi

    Lol too bad I am a desi at heart ;) m looking forward to more innovative stuff from our drama industry:)Recommend

  • Saba Fatima ALi

    Really ? Cuz i honestly get VERY disturbed by this characterRecommend

  • Saba Fatima ALi

    Yes well you are right they have been victimised a lot. But I really feel these women watch these dramas , and they should be made to realize that they are not objects of pity and much more then that , these dramas would make them delve in more self pity? What say? Haha truce it is! And m glad it was a good read for you!Recommend

  • Saba Fatima ALi

    @husband: thanks:)Recommend

  • Saba Fatima ALi

    @I.: couldnt agreee moreeeeee! Die star plus! :P Recommend

  • Saba Fatima ALi

    I would honestly like you to suggest some of the better dramas. Looking forward to it:)Recommend

  • Saba Fatima ALi

    @shuja ul islam: haha no i think I can do without the cheating husband and the “other woman” :PRecommend

  • Saba Fatima ALi

    Oh yes, I am a drama buff and I have suggestions for sure. Have you watched :
    1) Durre shehwar
    2) shehr e zaat
    3) bilquis kaur
    4) Daam
    5) Vasl

    Are you watching tanhaiyan naye silsilay , ek nayi cinderella? M also looking forward to zindagi gulzar hai :)Recommend

  • Saba Fatima ALi

    @Ameer,Chennai: If you like watching dramas I would really want you to watc more then just the clips :) You ll like it I promise!Recommend

  • shuja ul islam

    @Saba Fatima ALi:
    u r replying to every comment….must be hectic..!!Recommend

  • Parvez

    @Saba Fatima ALi: You have a point in the ‘self pity’ angle, but I get a feeling that you don’t have as much faith in our women as I do. Keep strong. Over-and-out.Recommend

  • mehak

    Very well written piece!! keep up the good workRecommend

  • Umair

    Can you explain to me in what ways are Star Plus dramas of low quality and Pakistani dramas of high quality? And please don’t give me the “great writers, excellent acting, brilliant dialogues and flawless direction” crap.

    This is hilarious because Indian channels make only daily soaps not dramas. Whereas Pakistani TV channels make both daily soaps as well as dramas. However real strength of our channels is still dramas which finish after 15~20 episodes unlike soaps where generations come & vanish but soaps don’t end. Secondly, we have to talk about great writers, excellent acting, brilliant dialogues and flawless direction because we are not talking about reality shows here.
    I don’t understand what does make you think that Pakistanis are under imaginary superiority. Despite of the fact this article somehow blames Paki drama industry.Recommend

  • Behlul

    @ Everyone.
    …yaawwwnnn…. Aren`t there much better things to discuss…?? : |Recommend

  • Dexter

    @ Author..

    After i got done reading ths piece….yes it did pricked me, youve been waiting-long for thefinal` year in the medical…

    Very-well written but….. on a very boring topic…Recommend

  • sarwarn

    we are sick of such articles at ET as wellRecommend

  • Saba Fatima ALi

    I ve been waiting long for the final year in medical ? huh what?Recommend

  • Ali

    I believe the author raises a very valid point here. Our society has many more dimensions that those shown in our dramas. The producers need to make some thing that EVERYONE can relate to, not just a limited audience!Recommend

  • Ali

    And yes regarding Star Plus dramas. Really they should be at the summit of low IQ viewership and even lower standards.Recommend

  • Saba Fatima ALi

    @ali , thanksRecommend

  • SH


    There was a time when Pakistan was so inclined towards Indian shows that channels like Star Plus and Sony dominated TV screens in most households. Times have changed and people now enjoy more Pakistani dramas. After watching Indian soaps and then shifting to Pakistani serials, viewers can easily distinguish the differences. I wonder if you have even watched a recent Pakistani drama. If not, I recommend you to watch them and then judge whether it is an imaginary superiority or a genuine one. Also, great writers, excellent acting, brilliant dialogues and flawless direction are not crap. These skills play a major role in making any drama successful.Recommend

  • Dr Saddam Hussain

    @Saba Fatima ALi:
    current issues i mean… violence in our country, our economic situation, talibanization, politics, sports…etcRecommend