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The Drama Industry Must Move On From Monotonous Roles For Women

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It is not a hidden phenomenon that Pakistani dramas are loved and viewed by a large population around the globe. Our industry is blessed with some tremendous actors, who through their spectacular performance and acting skills form the essence of dramas. Nonetheless, the monotonous content of Pakistani dramas cannot be neglected.

There was a time when the drama industry of Pakistan was in its golden years. However, gradually, there has been a decline in the content of the plays aired on numerous TV channels. From brilliant shows like Dhoop Kinare, Tanhiyan, Meri Zaat Zarra-e-Benishan, Sang-e-Mar-Mar and Zindagi Gulzaar Hai to dramas that are borderline frivolous, our industry deteriorated. Nowadays, we see dramas that primarily revolve around issues like divorce, second marriages and other topics that do nothing but further promote a horrendous image of the prevailing patriarchal society.

It is exasperating to see that even though times have changed and we are striving to be free from the male dominance that underlines our society, our industry, a powerful asset of our country, prefers to endorse the same ideas and concepts that most of us are fighting against. The damsel-in-distress female lead, an evil homewrecker and a problematic hero who gets it all in the end despite his wrongdoings and exploitation. Ironically, it is always the woman who suffers in the end be it her fault or not. Most of the dramas have partially the same storyline while being aired on different channels.

Moreover, the dichotomy of good and evil is also denoted in dramas through visual symbolism around women. The female protagonist is the epitome of perfect daughter/ daughter-in-law: covers her head, prefers to remain silent and does nothing but cry in the whole series of episodes until she gets her happy ending. By contrast, the antagonist is liberal, drives her own car or wishes for one, and favours Western dressing over Eastern. She is more ambitious and chooses her self-respect over anything. Nevertheless, she is deemed as ill-mannered, power hungry and an exploiter.

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Although it is appropriate to suggest that materialistic and insatiable desires can be deceitful, I believe there are other ways to highlight that rather than through the representation of a ‘modern’ woman. And what is a modern woman after all? Why does clothing represent the concept of modernism? What is wrong with intellect, personality and knowledge? What message are we trying to give to our young generation? That choosing their careers over rishta culture and choosing their dreams over the societal pressure is a hindrance to their future endeavours? Or that Western dressing makes you a vindictive human being? I hope not: otherwise, we as a country are wrecked beyond imagination.

We live in a society where women are already looked down upon. The inequality that predominates our culture cannot be ignored. Therefore, by making dramas which are based on male-centric and repetitive concepts, we are doing nothing for the betterment of our society.

Therefore, I request the drama industry to avail the power that they possess to bring an unprecedented change in the society. Set yourselves free from conventional and repetitious scripts. Explore new ideas and make serials that are more diversified and woman-oriented. We need strong, liberated women like Kashaf from Zindagi Gulzar Hai and not malicious ladies who would do anything and ruin any relationship for money and fame. Furthermore, choose scripts that spread awareness regarding serious concerns instead of merely highlighting divorces and extra-marital affairs.

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Naya Daur