From women’s empowerment to gender ties to social trends, a bouquet of Pakistani TV shows have hit the Indian small screen and are being appreciated by discerning Indian audiences. The progressive plots are not only creative and entertaining but are also successfully shattering many myths and misconceptions.
Beamed on Entertainment channel Zindagi-Jodey Dilon Ko, a new offering from Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited (ZEEL), is an eye-opener.
“Unfortunately, the international media showcases a very tiny fraction of our society. But it is our shows and films that show what the majority of our society is like,” said actor-filmmaker Samina Peerzada.
The channel went live June 23 with four shows, including Zindagi Gulzar Hai — a romantic drama that focuses on women and shows how equality of girls and the need for women to have a career are important in Pakistani society as well. The show highlights that if women from well-off families have freedom to make choices, the middle-class is not being shackled by conservatism either.
Such shows are proof of womens empowerment in Pakistan. A report by the British Council revealed that in 2011, more than 42 per cent of Pakistan’s 2.6 million high school students were girls.
Data on employment rates also reflect this improvement. For instance, Habib Bank hires 50 per cent female MBA graduates, while Engro Chemicals has 100 women in management positions.
Another well-known director Haissam Hussain’s Aunn-Zara revolves around a couple — pampered Aunn and headstrong Zara. The writer has woven cultural roots of rituals and family ties in the narrative, which has several strong female characters, without being regressive.
All this is a revelation for the audience in India, especially because media mostly highlights disturbing news on terrorism.
“We have the same reservations as people anywhere in the world, we’re as positive, the mothers here are as caring and loving as anywhere else and we live a normal life,” said Samina.
“We have normal human beings here just like any other part of the world…we have all kinds of people. I am very proud and humbled that people are getting to see a side of Pakistan that has not been seen so far,” she added.
If the above two shows are urbane and elite, Kaash Main Teri Beti Na Hoti touches upon trials and tribulations of underprivileged class and their struggle for survival.
Kitni Girahein Baki Hain is a fascinating and captivating line-up of telefilms focusing on women from various walks of life.
“Pakistani dramas are a reflection of our society and issues that we face in our day-to-day life. There is no over-the-top dramatisation of characters and situations unlike Indian dramas where they exaggerate,” said an official from a Pakistani television channel.
Interestingly, the shows are garnering positive response in India. National Award winning Bollywood actor Divya Dutta tweeted: “Loving the serials on Zindagi. Refreshing, crisp and beautiful Urdu… nice!”
Another actor Kamya Punjabi tweeted, “I so want to go to Pak and be a part of their shows! I hope and wish Zee Zindagi changes the vision of the makers in television here.”
As a filmmaker, Kunal Kohli appreciated the technical side of the shows. “Must say the quality of shooting & writing of the shows on #Zindagi is very refreshing,” he tweeted.
Shailja Kejriwal, creative head of ZEEL, said that the idea was to use a mass media platform for entertainment with a purpose.
“I’m hoping that it will grow into creative collaborations between the two nations. Not only have these shows shattered a lot of myths about our neighbouring nation, but also generated some kind of a bond that I see growing rapidly. If that happens, it would be the real achievement and something we would all be really proud of,” said Shailja.
The channel started with four shows, but the numbers will go up this week.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 9th, 2014.