Decline Of Pakistani Dramas, Missing-out “Indigenous Ertugruls”
There is a global debate going on regarding the purpose of art and content in its forms. Is it only for entertainment? Or does it have any objectives to attain through portrayal of true realities of society with a strong social message. Besides, whose responsibility is it to decide the type of content to be aired and whether it is the duty of mass media through educating people is also a point of discourse.
Entertainment industry has gone through a sea changes owing to the rise of independent producers and new avenues of broadcasting. Netflix is a case in point. It enjoys more independence and more freedom for creativity. Hence, due space is given to artistic creativity and experimental drama-makers. Resultantly, web-series are getting popular with the youth across length and breadth.
However, Pakistani entertainment industry, specifically drama, is on downward trajectory for long since 80s. Even in the late 70s and 80s era, which is considered as a golden/classic age of Pakistani dramas, lagged in production quality due to limited resources.
The problem is solved today with the advent of private channels which has resulted in the improvement of production quality, but the content has degraded further.
There are some serious issues with Pakistani dramas as of today.
First, storyline of drama is very narrow and superfluous. Drama revolves around three or four themes mainly love triangle and viciousness of in-laws. This has made dramas monolithic and boring.
Secondly, all characters are unreal and non-layered. Hence, portrayal of characters as black and white further drifts away the realities and human nature, which devoids the dramas from interesting turns and twists. Such formula-based dramas result in predictability and look all the same with an ‘all is well’ climax.
Thirdly, a handful of dramas made on social issues are produced in such a manner that it ruins the artistic appeal of the drama and therefore seen as a sheer propaganda/advertisement. Moreover, there is also insensitivity on part of producers who make dramas on social issues, such as child rape, as they fail to do justice to the story. Cheap emotions and melodrama run high in such dramas. Besides, the issue is exploited for unnecessary sensation and glamour.
Fourthly, stereotyping of cast is another serious issue that also affects storyline of dramas as protagonists, both male and female, are visibly young with sharp looks and fair complexion. Average looking (as per societal standards) yet with the best talent have no place in the industry as they are considered to be less presentable. Such stereotyping of cast has narrowed the scope/subject of dramas. Story of only young people as protagonists are broadcasted. As if middle and old age people don’t have their stories or they don’t exist at all.
In order to revive the past glory of Pakistani dramas, artistic freedom, new stories and unconventional casting, focusing on production quality and out-of-box thinking, are inevitable. Instead of focusing on urban and rural life of two provinces-Sindh and Punjab- unexplored and neglected people and their culture should be portrayed in a manner that it is not only promoted but is also preserved.
It is also ironic that no focus in dramas has ever been given to tribal people. Kalash is mainly ignored from the scene. Neither inspiring stories of the country’s own legends such as Ali Sadpara, Alan Faqir and Jahangir Khan- who made Pakistan proud and brought many international accolades to home- have ever been broadcasted to highlight their struggle, commitment and dedication to their goals.
In addition, stories of Ruth Pfau – the magic healer-, Abdul Salam, I.A Rehman and Parween Rehman have never been given their due limelight. These people stood by their rules and principles and never bowed down. Parween was even shot dead because of her work and commitment to save poor people of Karachi from land mafia. Their lives are full of struggle; and are epitome of honesty that needs to be shown to the world. Neglecting accounts of such real life heroes has left the young people unaware, uninspired and demotivated.
Ironically, government spends millions of rupees in translating Turkish dramas but is not ready to spend a tiny amount of that on producing dramas on Pakistani indigenous heroes, history and culture. Channels- fundamentally being commercial entities- run on business line and air only such content which is popular, and shy away from airing unconventional content because of financial viability. Therefore, independent producers should come forward and play their role and learn from India, whose drama is though weak, but Netflix India is booming because of new storylines, cast and quality production. Pakistan’s government should also take lead and invest in the industry which will help in promoting soft image, tourism, tolerance and cultural harmony. All this is what Pakistan badly needs at this juncture of time.
Kashif Ali is a geologist-turned civil servant. He holds a degree in Geology from University of Sindh. He has interest in global politics and current affairs and writes extensively on diverse subjects ranging from culture and education to religious extremism and public administration. [email protected]