KARACHI: In the early 2000s Ekta Kapoor dominated the drama industry across the border and in Pakistani households. Her popular soap operas such as Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki, Kavyanjali, Kahiin Toh Hoga, and several others were constants post 8 pm.
While this was a rather short-lived yet significant chapter in the history of Pakistani telly, local productions such as Aansoo, Alpha Bravo Charlie, Dhoop Kinareand Mehndi have dominated the region for decades.
Some say it was the realism in Pakistani dramas that never left the audience and others feel the characters are so clearly fleshed out that they appear like a welcome break from the highly conventional Indian film and TV.
But there was a time when this region's two cultural forces collaborated more than often. Cross border projects that are scarce today, were a norm back in the days. Recently, actor Aijaz Aslam took to social media to share throwback images from a similar collaborative project called Dost.
The 2005 drama starred Aslam, alongside Kasautii Zindagii Kay famed Indian TV stars Shweta Tiwari and Ronit Roy. Dost was directed by the Aangan director, Aehsun Talish, and also starred Fakhre Alam, Arjuman Rahim, and Faisal Rehman in the cast as well.
"It was common for cross border collaborations to happen back in the day," Aslam said while speaking to The Express Tribune. "Many Indian TV actors were cast for Pakistani dramas because the local actors were just so expensive to get on board. So, when Humayun Saeed and Abdullah Kidwai approached us for a drama with Indian actors, we agreed because we believe art transcends borders."
Aslam added it was an experience of a lifetime to have worked with Tiwari and Roy. However, given the current situation between the neighbouring countries, it saddens him that there aren't any more collaborations.
"I am a firm believer that political scenarios shouldn't affect art and entertainment," the Mehndi star commented, adding, "But I also believe that there should be a balanced exchange of talent."
Aslam went on to add how Pakistan has always welcomed Indian actors, while our neighbours have tried to restrict such opportunities.
"It makes one wonder if they are threatened by our talent?" he questioned. "Our artists have always dominated the Indian counterparts. Be it Atif Aslam, Fawad Khan, Mahira Khan, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, or any other, they have always garnered more praises than Indian celebrities. Maybe that is why the Indian fraternity decided to place this ban on Pakistani artists."
He also talked about how a couple of years ago, TV actor Sara Khan starred in a Pakistan drama and really enjoyed her time while working on it.
"She loved working with us," Aslam recalled. "She found it pretty easy to work with Pakistani actors because essentially, we all are the same. The cultures are similar, so are the languages. The collaborations have always worked for the better. It's a shame it doesn't happen anymore."
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