Trends that rule our drama narratives – Ditch them or Dig them? That is the question!
“Aap fresh hojayen mein chai le ke aati hoon!” I can only wish that someone says this to me. But while I wish that I also wish Pakistani script writers do away with redundant dialogues. The famous one being, “Beta! Log kya kahengay?” It might be difficult to believe, but I just heard it the other day as I was entering my mother’s room. I exited right away.
Then you have the ultimate winner, “Beta, marney se pehlay mein iski [points at a bewildered daughter] zimmedari se azaad hona chahta/chahti hoon”. In simple words, “Ye ab tumhari zimmedaari hai.”
Why can’t she be her own zimmedari? We all know – as we learnt via Guru Geet – “Akeli larki ek khuli tijori ki tarah hoti hai”, but can this not be the ultimate ‘twist’ in most of our Pakistani dramas?
Anyway, here are some trends I dearly wish our drama makers will leave behind in 2021.
1. ER Weddings Trend
Abba jee is breathing his last and as he journeys off to his celestial abode he, being a typical desi dad, decides to pull of one final torture tactic on his daughter. He opens his eyes and whoever’s breathing down his ill neck at that time gets to be the groom for his ill-fated daughter.
So abba and amma jees here’s a disclaimer: Don’t try this at home. Please.
In short, if, as audience, we’re not over our sudden-wedding-with-rich-men fetish then maybe our writers can think of creative ways to make these weddings happen? Because ER weddings are so 2010!
2. Commercialising Spirituality
The camera pans from a stunning display of nature and onto the pink lips of a fresh as daisy lady clad in white chiffon. We see the lips moving. Ah, she’s reciting Surah Fatiha. Subhanallah!
Indeed scenes like these pull on your heart strings. Do you realise we might’ve crossed that thin line where we aren’t telling genuine, spiritual stories anymore; we’re using spirituality as a prop to sell a product.
This genre came into the limelight with Meri Zaat Zara-e-Benishaan – everyone enjoyed it – then moved further along with Khuda Aur Mohabbat – everyone still sobs over it – and then we had the highly relatable Shehr-e-Zaat – this one was also admired.
I think genuineness ended right there. Now, it seems like the producer makes a call to the writer (or vice versa) and promises, “Ab hum ismein add karengay spirituality hasb-e-zaiqa aur ye aap ka garma garam hit drama tayyar!”
3. Using Weddings as a Plot for Ramazan sitcoms
There was a reason Baraat series was called the ‘baraat’ series – it was supposed to revolve around weddings of various characters. Your Suno Chanda, Taana Baana, Chupke Chupke and Ishq Jalebi can find their own original central theme.
If I see wedding-themed comedy shows this Ramazan then I might just put my roza to good use and pray for the failure of the show. Because when nothing else works, prayers do.
4. Revenge Weddings
Weddings on gunpoint, weddings to avenge parent’s death, weddings to prove how much you hate the person you’re marrying…hold it right there – who in their right mind would want to marry a person they hate? This is an extremely idiotic excuse to marry the person you love but your pride doesn’t allow you to admit it. “Mein isse se shaadi karna chahta hoon taakay isse tarpa sakoon!” No bro, tum uss se shaadi kar rahe ho taakay khud ko tarapnay se bacha sako. Who you fooling?
The audience has evolved and watching supposed heroes torturing their wives is utterly disturbing.
5. Spoilt Brats Waiting for Their Princess Charming
And that princess MUST wear a dupatta. And the brat MUST have a ‘best friend’ clad in jeans, which only means one thing: Evil husband-snatcher alert! Ishq-e-Laa has broken that stereotype – the princess is the best friend and she isn’t your head-covering heroine – but Aye Musht-e-Khaak has strengthened it. Then again, both shows have brats as male protagonists and two spiritual female protagonists have been given the duty to make them Muslim.
Honey, that’s not your job. Writers, it’s your job to think of new storylines.
6. Focusing more on cinematography than storytelling
This one issue reared its head while I was watching Hum Kahan Ke Sachay Thay and Ishq-e-Laa. We understand the directors want to show their expertise and this is probably their style, but staring at Mahira and Kubra Khan’s close-up for 40 minutes straight can make us mere mortals feel mildly claustrophobic. By the end of their scene in episode 22, I wanted to grab the cameraman by his neck and pull him away because, as a viewer, I wish to focus on the dialogues not on two Khan’s non-existent pores.
In Ishq-e-Laa we have these quirky angles which sometimes work and other times make you dizzy. I love how Pakistan’s beauty has been captured in the show but I would’ve appreciated it more if it were part of the narrative. Focus on the story, not on shashkay!
7. Cousin Romance
I understand half of Pakistan’s female population has access to their male cousins only for romance, but who’s stopping the boys? This patriarchal set up is designed to help you find your love interest elsewhere! Why are you still eyeing your khala’s daughter creepily? Go be a creep outside.
Is it production house’s ploy to keep things contained in one house? It seems so. Because making the two leads from two separate families fall in love will involve scouting for multiple locations like a university, café, library, etc. With cousin romance, everything’s done and dusted in one or max two houses.
These are the trends I definitely wouldn’t want to see in 2022. You want to show politics? Move from family politics to office politics. You want to show an empowered woman? Don’t make her weep and do nothing for 20 episodes and then break free in the 21st and last episode. She can cry all she wants, but she also needs to show through her actions that she will fight back if cornered! You want to add humour to dramas? Stop making misogynist jokes. You want to make 10 dramas for ‘ratings’? Go ahead, earn your big bucks, but then make at least five or four dramas that progress the industry. Here’s hoping we (looking at you producers) find that balance in 2022! And if you guys have any trends that you’d like our makers to ditch then please share away.