Can we even mix humour with serious content? Should we attempt to pass on social messages with a laugh and a smile? That is the question every drama maker should be asking themselves in Pakistan. How to grab high TRPs without compromising the content – is it even possible?
It is possible, we say, and we’ll show you how!
Pakistani Dramas have tackled some pretty heavy content. From child abuse, harassment, rape, child marriages, mental health and marital abuse to challenging themes that led to temporary bans on the content as well. It’s complicated you see. When real life becomes so stressful that viewers need a break and rather than watching Bikhre Moti play out on screen, they prefer to switch on Bulbullay reruns or, current day Prem Gali. Channels get their views and we, the viewers get our 50 minutes entertainment paisa vasool – so what happens to all the dramas we can’t watch or don’t watch because they’re too heavy or depressing?
They’re not lively enough to get the mass audience, and hence, they won’t ever make it to top billing and …somehow, they might get side-tracked from being aired on mega entertainment channels to offshoots ( case in point, Dil Na Umeed Tau Nahi) and therefore, the message they have so painfully attempted to highlight is lost!
So, here’s the catch
How do we manage to bring together lively entertainment and meaningful messages in ONE mix? So that viewers are watching Bikhre Moti, as well as Prem Gali in one show, and keeping away from sensational themes like Nand, Jalan and, ahem …here comes the bashing, Mere Paas Tum Ho! Oh well, extra marital affairs are no longer sensational because it’s done and we’ve been there, so what next?
Let’s learn from the best and devise ways of getting better at our game, it’s about time, right?
1. A Legal Thriller In The Work Place – SUITS Remake, but not quite
What about a series on law & order? On solving legal disputes and doing it with an uber-cool cast. Are we talking SUITS? Oh well, we didn’t use the 4 letter word, but now that you say it …why not? Picture Fawad Khan as the super smooth Harvey Specter, give or take Bilal Abbas or Ahad Raza Mir as Michael Ross, Sajal Aly or Yumna as Rachel Zane, mix up the rest of the cast and bring in Mahira Khan as Donna! Now we can hear you going whaaat! So this is JUST an example – pick up the concept and make it your own! E.g the law suits can reconstruct real life cases; corporate espionage or crimes, but each episode brings a new story… there you have #Metoo #AuratMarch #Harassment #Rape #ChildAbuse #Corruption #OnlineBullying #Trolling – so many issues that can be highlighted in each successive episode!
This one might face a challenge going through PEMRA due to the ‘real’ life nature of the cases, but you know what, if the pink nighty made it – sugar mills scams should be a breeze!
2. Money Heist -ish Crime Thriller But With A PG Rating
So you don’t have to pull a bank robbery to ace the ratings. All you need is a gang of thieves – correction, a cool gang of thieves. Each of them has a back story and each of them is in the game for a reason. Imagine the social messages we send out though those back stories, kinda like Churails but …remember the PG rating? Why the rating, you ask, can we not make adult content – yes, we respond, but at the moment we want to hit the masses through national television and we want to offer them content that is viewable by the entire family so that EVERYONE gets the message.
Imagine Hamza Ali Abbasi as The Professor, followed up by Neelam Muneer as Nairobi, and Sara Khan as Tokyo … the story is not in mimicking the story but in owning the inspiration! Pakistani channels have yet to churn out a convincing crime thriller. Each episode is about a different heist and each time, we get a new story from the same characters and a few guest appearances – get it?
3. Bridgerton With None of The Steamy Scenes
Can you even tell this story without the sex bits squeezed in at 10 minute intervals? Well, here’s the thing. Bridgerton delivered some pretty neat messages that might sound antiquated in modern day UK but still quite relevant in modern day Pakistan. Messages on women empowerment, rishta culture, women seeking gainful employment in a man’s world, mothers responsibility in bringing up their daughters, sons deprived of following a career of choice, women devoid of following any career at all, and …our obsession with marriage.
We spot the raised eye brows, but you know what, it’s probably a match made in heaven … and a Pyar Ke Sadqay remake, you say? Oh well, if you can’t have season 2, a remake is the backup plan right?
And now that we have our dream dramas in place, let’s hope our makers are inspired to follow ‘SUIT” – pun intended here! The intention of course, is not to imitate but to evolve …can we do it? Till then, let’s get back to Dunk, Raqs -e- Bismil, Mushk & Dil Na Umeed Tau Nahi – some riveting stuff there. 2021 is a prize either way and awaiting Pehli Si Mohabbat as we speak!
Shazia likes to pen her thoughts when she feels passionately about a life experience, a person or an event. She is mother to 3 lively boys and along with her husband, attempts to settle in her new country by taking German lessons so she is able to soak in the culture, language and spirit of the region.
“Wake up in the morning, take a deep breath and exhale! Keep on living with a passion that inspires others! “