I remember the Ramadan of 2020. The Pandemic was in full swing. Work from home or living at work, whichever way one prefers to put it, coupled with the Holy month and a deep desire to watch some meaningful entertainment compelled the people of Pakistan to binge-watch the impeccable and masterclass Turkish show titled Ertugrul. Let us admit it; there is a dearth of good quality TV dramas in Pakistan.
Those days of amazing Pakistani dramas are long gone. People are rightfully arguing that our dramas have gone down in quality and content. The script, the plot, the storytelling, and so forth have anything but quality and what is left is just an amalgamation of whatever sells in the market.
Today’s typical dramas have affairs between young men and women and usually they are sitting across the table from each other drinking and eating while indulging in the most vulgar conversation one can write. There are large families in the stories where extramarital affairs are an ongoing reality of life. Divorce, rape, robberies are some of the common ingredients making up the stories of these dramas.
It is sad and shameful that our dramas are like this or have become like this. But maybe we are missing the mark here. Maybe this is a perfect case of confusing the culprit and victim. Maybe this is a perfect case of confusing the cause and effect. Let me break it to you; it is not our dramas that have become bad, it is rather us that have changed and become a disingenuous lot.
The TV dramas anywhere depict that society. The dramas in Pakistan may be horrible and vulgar and the kinds we don’t feel proud of. However, what we need to realise is that they are a reflection of who we are and what our society looks like. Our dramas are rather victims of our societal makeup. We cast a shadow over what gets broadcasted in both fictional and non-fictional works. We are the culprits.
Do we not have children getting raped and killed in Pakistan? Have extramarital affairs not become not only a routine of life but rather a source of pride for some. Both genders do it. Do we not smoke and I don’t mean only tobacco. Are murders not happening for the sake of a cellphone? Do we not elevate people to political leadership because of which family they were born in? Do we not pay pennies to buy kidneys from poor citizens and flip them by selling them to rich patients? I can go on and on but you get the idea. The dramas are bad because they depict us.
We as a society actually want this nonsense. People actually start their day with a good whiff of this nonsense otherwise there would be no such thing as morning shows. I have a strong belief that aliens from other intelligent civilisations haven’t visited us because as soon as they neared the earth, they perhaps caught our broadcast and were totally disappointed when they saw that some people on this planet actually watched morning shows with sheer enthusiasm and excitement.
I watched a drama episode the other day. Some female actor was sitting in her bed reading a book. Someone walks in the room and interrupts her reading. She puts the book down without putting a bookmark in it or by folding the page at the top so that she can return to it later. Book readers would know what I am talking about. I am sure nobody would have noticed this mistake because not many book readers are left in this society. Had she instead applied her make up wrongly or worn the wrong colour combination or ordered the wrong kind of ice cream, I am sure everybody would have noticed and shamed her on YouTube. That is how empty a crowd we have become. Why should our dramas be any better?
Published in The Express Tribune, September 22nd, 2022.
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