Memorable Pakistani TV drama characters of 2012

The year 2012 showcased more or less hundreds of Pakistani dramas and soaps and only a handful were worth watching and that was mostly due to veteran actors who were outstandingly authentic or delightful in their roles. Here is my list of memorable TV characters of 2012.

1.     Savera Nadeem as Zubaida in Badi Aapa (Hum) – In a cliched role of the first wife, Savera skillfully plays Zubaida who is a complex person. She is neurotic, dominating, sensitive, cunning, naïve, overall a very well written character.  And not to forget her mousey husband is played by the top-notch actor Nauman Ejaz.

Bari-Apa

2.     Hina Dilpazeer Khan as Mummy in Quddusi Saheb Ki Bewa (ARY) – With dental prosthetics, a flying saucer hairdo, gorgeous silk saris, Hina transforms herself as Mummy, a caricature of Madam Bahar, the veteran Pakistani film actress who mostly played vampy mothers of moderen vamps in the glorious days of Lollywood. Mummy spends her free time swigging from the bottle and playing rummy with her equally awara moderen friends, the character is a hoot.

3.     Hina Dilpazeer Khan as Shakooran in Quddusi Saheb Ki Bewa (ARY) – Hina is delightful as the snobbish Urdu-speaking matriarch of a household comprising three daughters that earn for the family and a son relegated to kitchen affairs. The muhavaras/idioms/proverbs that shower from her mouth are matchless.

4.     Badar Khalil as Aqeela Khala in Quddusi Saheb Ki Bewa (ARY) – Baddo is wonderful as the stinky abaya-clad kleptomaniac rishta karanay vali khala.

5.     Waqar Hussain as Wadood Ahmed in Quddusi Saheb Ki Bewah (ARY) – What a brother! What a character! What naiveness! You have to see this serial to understand what I am trying to convey.

wadood quddusi

6.     Nadia Jamil as Shandana in Durr-e-Shahwar (Hum) – Shandana is a working woman, a mother and a wife and whose long-standing marriage is falling apart. It was good to see Nadia Jamil back on the screen after a long gap for she capably brought out the frustration and sadness of her character.

durre-shahwar-2

7.     Sania Saeed as Mehru in Zard Mausam (Hum) – Sania essayed the grey role of a bitter mother with great restraint employing subtle facial expressions. Only a skilled actor is able to pull of such a challenging role.

zard-mausam2

8.     Sajil as Neeli in Mohabbat Jaye Bhad Main (Hum) – Written by Faseeh Bari Khan, Neeli is a loud mouth, brash, flirtatious schoolgirl have an affair right under the nose of her philandering father.

mohabbat-jai-bhar-mein

9.     Faisal Quraishi as Rafique in Sabz Pari Laal Kabootar (Geo) – Even though Faisal Quraishi has become a permanent fixture in the drama scene yet no one can accuse him of not doing his job well. In this particular heart-wrenching and realistic production he is outstanding as a drug-addicted rickshaw driver whose addiction destroys his family.

sabz-pari-laal-kabootar

10. Nimra Bucha as Sakina in Sabz Pari Laal Kabootar (Geo) – The wife of rickshaw driver who abandons her and their children due to his drug addiction.

11.  Bushra Ansari as Bilqees Kaur in Bilquees Kaur (Hum) – As the dominating Punjabi matriarch running a dhaba in New Yarak, Bushra Ansari outshone everyone in Bilquis Kaur.

Bilquis-Kaur

12.  Salahuddin Tunio as Master Saeen Dino in Diya Jalaye Rakhna (Geo) – This soap has the veteran actor play the role of Master Saeen Dino responsible for bringing education especially to girls in a small village in Sindh.

master-sain-dino

13.  Sabeen Hisbani in Emaan (Express) – As the bhabhi who is learning English to impress her brother-in-law’s newly arrived American wife, Sabeen is hilarious in this character.

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Real people in Quddusi Saheb ki Bewa-episode 5

CHANNEL: ARY Digital

Timings: Every Friday at 8 pm

First broadcast on: February 10, 2012

Hina Dilpazeer Khan as Badrika Jehan/Quddusi Sahab Ki Bewa/Rooh Afza/Bengali Baji

Shehnaz Parvez as Khajista Jehan, desperate to get married but her mother wont let her

Badar Khalil as Aqeela bhabhi, a stinky matchmaker gossip khala and a vege robber!

Uroosa Siddiqui as Shagufta Jehan, a hysterical laughing maniac and works in a family planning clinic

Waqar Hussain as Wudud Ahmed, only son and feels trapped in a male’s body

EPISODE 5

Sayings/proverbs/muhavaras/kahawats:

Haathon main mehndi lagi hai

Gharaz ka baawla

Apni hi gaway

Nak kati bazaar main

Meray ghar ko khabar mat karna

Kaala moonh

Karela daant

Dil dooba jaana: sinking heart

Catchphrases:

 

Ganji aurat

Tapi! Tapi!

Antiquated words:

 

Utawala hona: getting restless

Baalizh bhar ki laundiya: little girl

Naqahat: weakness

Words/phrases coined:

 

Khariya aurat

Neelay aankh vali hathni: blue-eyed elephant

Fasadi aurat: aggressive woman

Songs:

Do naina matwaray niharay

Hum par zulum karain

Singer: K L Saigal

Picturised on: K L Saigal

Film: Meri Behen

Original song link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_URwqxX5lE

Kyun paisa paisa kartee hai

Kyun paisay pay tu marti hai

Singer: R D Burman and Selina

Picturised on: Katrina Kaif

Film: De Dana Dan

Original song link: http://www.indicine.com/movies/bollywood/paisa-lyrics-de-dana-dan/

Abhi aap ki umar hi kya hai

Singer: Runa Laila and Ahmed Rushdi

Picturised on: Shabnam and Shahid

Film: Anmol

Original song link:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1DAaVWnb5Eww.youtube.com/watch?v=xG5sXYBZ-0Y

Kya ghazab kartay ho jee

Pyar say dartay ho jee

Singer: Asha Boshle

Picturised on: Vijayeta Pandit and Kumar Gaurav

Film: Love Story

Original Song link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TH2OYfCqcb8

Cultural artefacts/references in terms of furniture and clothing:

White gao takiya

Silver surmadaan

Silver ughaldaan

Old model radio

Takht

White gharara

Paandaan

Antique telephone

Links for episode 5:

Watching Quddusi Saheb ki Bewa-episode 3, can drastically improve your Urdu

CHANNEL: ARY Digital

 

Timings: Every Friday at 8 pm

 

First broadcast on: February 10, 2012

 

Hina Dilpazeer Khan as Badrika Jehan/Quddusi Sahab Ki Bewa/Rooh Afza/Bengali Baji

 

Shehnaz Parvez as Khajista Jehan, desperate to get married but her mother wont let her

 

Badar Khalil as Aqeela bhabhi, a stinky matchmaker gossip khala and a vege robber!

 

Uroosa Siddiqui as Shagufta Jehan, a hysterical laughing maniac

 

Waqar Hussain as Wudud Ahmed, only son and feels trapped in a male’s body

EPISODE 3

 

Sayings/proverbs/muhavaras/kahawats:

Daer aye durust aye

Better late than never

 

Janam kay aandhay

Naam nahi such

a blind wouldn’t know

what happiness is

 

Ullo ko ullo jaanay

only a shrewd would know

another shrewd person

 

Kawa chadha baithee misrani

Ghar main na anaaj na paani

Even though there is nothing to cook at home

But the stove has been switched on

 

Aankhoun main dhool jholna

To betray someone

 

Rang ralliyaan manana

 

Kamar main choori ghonpna

Stab someone in the back

Raiwadh ko khula chodna

Leaving the cattle free

 

aankh dekhay makhkhi

kaun niglega

Who would deliberately

Buy a faulty thing

 

Catchphrases:

 

I aym tawantee faur [24] awnlee tawantee faur!

 

I dawnt maind

 

 

Antiquated words:

 

farbandaam: bountiful

 

natkhat:

 

tan badan main aag: burning up

 

rupalli: money

 

aahazari: grief-stricken

 

tehes nehes: destroyed

 

paash paash hona: wrecked

 

aag lagay toh lagay: let people get jealous

 

pingoray: cradle

 

jhooti lapadan: liar

 

beheshtan maan: my mother in heavan

 

uchaal chakka: scoundrel

 

 

Words/phrases coined:

 

badi allama bani hai: acting really highly educated

 

Chaawal raj ke khana: eating rice with great relish

 

Chail chabeli naar:

 

Shaitani charkha: Telephone

 

Bayghairti ki bakwaas: sleazy rubbish

 

Neechay ilakay ki paydawaar: low caste harvest

 

Choohay kay gharwalay: kith and kin of rats

 

Laanat hai umrain vali chinaroun par: curse on sluts who hide their ages

 

Ham palla khandaan: family of equal status

 

Matakti thirakti aa mari hai yahan: swaying and twirling has come dying here

 

Teri kya mayya mar gayee hai: Has your mother died?

 

Shab-e-barat kay patakhay say us ka moonh jal ho gaya hoga: His face must have got burnt by crackers in shab e barat that is why it is so dark

 

Paidashee gharib: poor since birth

 

 

Songs:

Mehndi Hai Rachni wali

Singer: Alka Yagnik

Picturised on: Farida Jalal and Karishma Kapoor

Film: Earth

Original song link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_j8k2mBXnCw

 

Ab yahan koi nahi aayega

Singer: Noorjehan

Picturised on: Nayyar Sultana

Film: Baji

Original song link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2SdqBkGnUr0

 

 

Cultural artefacts/references in terms of furniture and clothing:

White gao takiya

Silver surmadaan

Silver ughaldaan

Old model radio

Takht

White gharara

Paandaan

Antique telephone

 

Links for episode 3:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyeBKa6-fcc

 

 

Quddusi Saheb ki Bewa-episode 2, treasure trove of urdu proverbs and creative phraseology

Channel: ARY Digital

Timings: Every Friday at 8 pm

First broadcast on: February 10, 2012

Cast:

Hina Dilpazeer Khan as Badrika Jehan/Quddusi Sahab Ki Bewa/Rooh Afza/Bengali Baji

Shehnaz Parvez as Khajista Jehan, desperate to get married but her mother wont let her

Badar Khalil as Aqeela bhabhi, a stinky matchmaker gossip khala and a vege robber!

Badar Khalil

Uroosa Siddiqui as Shagufta Jehan, a hysterical laughing maniac

Uroosa Siddiqui

Waqar Hussain as Wudud Ahmed, only son and feels trapped in a male’s body

Sayings/proverbs/muhavaras/kahawats:

Hosh kay nakhoon layna: get your act together

Taak par baytha ullo

Bhar Bhar mangay chullo

Andha kuwaan: bottomless well

Katnay ko daudna: angry and irritated

Aadhi ko chodh, saari ko jayay

Aadhi rahay na, saari payay

Dhobi ka kutta

Na ghar ka na ghaat ka:

A dog that runs after two bones catches neither

Catchphrases:

 

Pure Mard

Buttersilk

 

Antiquated words:

 

Zanana: women

Zankha: eunuch

 

Khasam: husband

umar raseeda: old

laundya: virgin girl derived from laundi, a slave girl

 

Words/phrases coined:

 

Sharifunnisa Begum: Miss Decency

Neem auratain: Shemale

Bhanwain mundwana: shave off eyebrows

 

Do number ki madam: Dubious brothel madam

 

Aaday tirchay log: reference to men with womanlike body language

Bayhangam qawwal ki batain: Conversation of a disturbed qawwaal

Kameeni fitrat: Sly personality

Gosht ki tahain chadhawain: Put on layers and layers of meat

Pehalwan jaisay niwalay: Morsels of a wrestler

Koiloun pay kyun baithee ho: why are you sitting over coals? Meaning why are you so upset?

Sabra sultana type of makeup

Behayaee ka burqa: Donning a burqa of brazenness

Behayee ka pajama: Donning a pair of trousers of unembarrassment

Songs:

Mujhay apnay dil main jagah daynay walay

Tera shukriya

Meri dhadkanoun kay

Naya rang bharkay

Abhi dhoondh hi rahi thi

Tumhay yeh nazar hamari

Kay tum aagay achanak

Badi umer hai tumhari

Singer: Noorjehan

Picturised on: Shamim Ara

Original song link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGeL9JIr6Wk

And a link with Madam singing on a show, resplendent in her gorgeous sari and OTT make-up: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wOdn8S0h1Kw

Pyar ko hum banaingay aisee misaal

Jis ko dohrayaga zamana saal ha saal

Singer: Ahmed Rushdi

Film: Suhaag

Picturised on: Nadeem and Shamim Ara

Original song link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pLh5c82G3L8

Cultural artefacts/references in terms of furniture and clothing:

Gao takiya

Gao takiya, in QSKB it is covered with a white cloth

Silver surmadaan

Silver ughaldaan

Old model radio

Takht

White gharara

Paandaan

Links for episode 2:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3w-CLZKNkU

Quddusi Sahab ki Bewa-a black tragi-comedy that is a must-viewing for its cultural references amongst its other several qualities

Image

Channel: ARY digital

Timings: Every Friday at 8 pm

Writer: Fasih Bari Khan

Director: Mazhar Moin

First broadcast on: February 10, 2012

Cast:

Hina Dilpazeer Khan as Shakooran or Amma or Quddusi Sahab ki bewa, the controlling matriarch of three daughters and a son

Hina Dilpazeer Khan as Badrika Jehan, a school teacher who financially supports her family and is desperate to get married and leave her family

Hina Dilpazeer Khan as Rooh Afza, a buck-toothed with the spirit of a Pakistani film heroine and the tenant of the Quddusi’s

Hina Dilpazeer Khan as Bengali Baji, a black magician

Shehnaz Parvez as Khajista Jehan, a homeopath, her mother would have preferred that she become a ward boy!

Badar Khalil as Aqeela bhabhi, a stinky matchmaker cum gossip khala

Uroosa Siddiqui as Shagufta Jehan, the only sister with no career except for having a keen eye on observing the funniness in everything even in morbid situations

Waqar Hussain as Wudud Ahmed, the only brother of Khajista, Badrika and Shagufta, who cooks for the women of his household and who is caught up in the unfortunate battle between his masculine and feminine side

EPISODE 1

 

There is a reason why some women remain unmarried and according to Quddusi Sahab ki Bewa (QSKB), it’s because the mothers don’t want to for their source of income will dry up and they will have a hard time running their household. In this era of economic recession this is a valid concern and this biting and almost savage serial highlights this fact through its wonderfully sketched characters played brilliantly by its talented cast. What also stands out in this serial is the liberal usage of unheard mohavaras (proverbs or sayings) that makes the watching of this serial essential in this day and age.

In the introduction to her book: Dilli ki Khwateen ki Kahavatain aur Mohavray, Shaista Suhrawardy Ikramullah says that  there was a time once that the conversations of women of yore would be incomplete without the usage of a proverb or a saying. She further explains that these sayings and proverbs were loaded with sarcasm and acerbity that was a form of outlet of expressing their frustrations. In Urdu language this is known as ta’na which literally means to wound someone. Daughters-in-law, sisters-in-law and second wives were usually the target for these ta’nas but daughters were treated with the milder versions so that they were taught the niceties of life through these sayings.

Sayings/proverbs/muhavaras used in first episode of QSKB:

Kaheen ki mitti kaheen ka rodha

Paan main thee na kunba joda

Bain na kooda koodee kaun

Yeh tamasha dekhay kaun

Muflisi main ata neela

Old-fashioned words used in first episode of QSKB::

Domnee

Kuttama

Luthree

Words coined in first episode of QSKB:

Kaanee Dajjalnee (one-eyed anti-christ!)

Khabeesan

Besides the language it is the constant referencing of Pakistani film songs especially by the wonderful crooner Naheed Akhtar that makes QSKB an engaging watch.

Songs in first episode of QSKB:

Bijli bhari hai meray ang ang main

Joh mujh ko choolay ga woh jal jayega

Film: Koshish

Singer: Naheed Akhtar

Original song and its link:

———

Meray sapnoun ki rani

Tu hee tu hee

Meray Sapnoun ki rani

——

Garam gulabi sham hai

Tarumba ka rumba

Sab kuch teray naam hai

Tarumba ka rumba

Singer: Naheed Akhtar

—–

Tuturutut tara tara

Bolay yeh dil ka ek tara

Meray humdum pyar ka mausam

Singer: Naheed Akhtar

Original song and its link:

The widespread usage of modern technologies have meant that several items of furniture and clothing that nearly 40 years ago were a part of our lives are no more. In QSKB we see several such pieces in a household that is apparently stuck in a time warp.

Cultural artefacts/references in terms of furniture and clothing in first episode of QSKB:

White gharara

Silver surmadani (kohl canister) Image

Silver ughaldaan (spittoon)

Old model radio

Takhat: Shaista Ikramullah Suharwadry explains its best in her book From Purdah to Parliament: “These were raised wooden platforms, covered with an embroidered or woven material, or only with clean white sheets. They had elaborately carved or lacquered legs, very often of silver. On special occasions masnads [=large cushions] would be placed over them. Takhats were always placed against a wall, and had several bolsters scattered over them for one to recline on. The takhat was, literally, the stage of all household activities. Ladies sat there making and eating paan, cutting chalia [=betel-nut], and gossiping. The more industrious ones brought their sewing or embroidery, and stitched their daughters’ trousseau while listening to the gossip. Even shopping was carried on from there, for women vendors brought their goods and spread them at the foot of the takhat. Children also had a corner for themselves, and their toys would be found littered all over it.”

Paandaan (Betel leaves box)

Links to the first episode:

THE RESURGENCE OF TELLY DRAMAS

 

Cable channels are no longer insulting the intellect of viewers as they forge their identity with quality dramas

 

2003-2007 are arguably the worst years of television history when the culture of soap operas that were mostly rip-offs of Star Plus soaps, besieged the satellite channels. With wafer-thin plots and high glamour quotient, these dramas were insulting to the average viewer who was used to high quality plays authored by Hasina Moin, Ashfaq Ahmed, Bano Qudsia, Noorul Huda Shah, Amjad Islam Amjad and their likes. The classic plays such as Man Chalay Ka Sauda, Parchaiyan, Nangay Paon, Waris, Khuda Ki Basti, Tapish and Hawaain had powerful screenplays, memorable dialogues with outstanding performances.

 

However storylines during the anni horribiles revolved around the shenanigans of either the business class and feudal lords or the conflict between the in-laws and the daughters-in-law. Besides soap operas, other forms of dramas such as the 15-22 episode serials also took on the flavour and structure of Indian soaps that were devoid of meaningful content. Rishad Mehmood, a former staffer at the Herald magazine (part of the Dawn Media Group) and covered culture extensively for the publication, in one of his pieces was extremely critical of the dramas that were being shown then. He had spoken to students who were disgusted with the ridiculous material that was being aired in the name of dramas.

 

Apart from that brief interlude, the last couple of years have seen a revitalisation of telly plays which even though are not outstanding in terms of content nevertheless, are drawing impressive viewership. Moreover, no longer can one hear people lamenting over the content of the plays in fact the viewer is now spoilt for choice. “For me it is a tussle between Hum TV and Geo TV when I am watching dramas, as both are producing some of the best plays at the moment,” says Gulrez Soomro, a mother of four kids and self-professed TV addict. Facebook pages are now created of every play where fans discuss the merits and demerits of every episode, as is done on several web forums where fresh episodes are promptly uploaded with the option of those who want to catch up on the play that they have missed or want to watch without ads also have very high viewership that runs in thousands. Desidramas.com and vidpk.com are two most popular web forums where viewers tune in to catch up on missed episodes. Hence Bol Meri Macchli, one of the most successful dramas of 2010 had average views of 6,000 on desidramas and 3,000 on vidpk per episode.

There are a couple of reasons behind this revival: new writers who are penning bold scripts, new directors with contemporary sensibilities and superior production values. Novel subjects are being explored which was never the case earlier even during the glorious days of the state-run television channel. Khuda Zameen Say Gaya Nahi (2009, Hum TV) and Bebak (2010, Hum TV) revolved around terrorism and its consequences. Partition Stories (PTV, 2008) a series of 12 plays, highlighted the loss and tragedy of every community during Partition and the humane values displayed by all of them at the time. Bol Meri Machli (Geo, 2010) grappled with exploitation of young vulnerable women in the showbiz world. Band Khirkiyoun Kay Peechay (TVOne, 2010) explored the goings-on of rich married socialites. “Zip, Bus Chup Raho on Geo was a very bold soap that was about a single parent who becomes a high-society escort to sustain the lifestyle of her kids,” says Soomro.

 

The writer-director duos of Umera Ahmed-Mehreen Jabbar/Babar Javed, Fasih Bari Khan-Mazhar Moin have played a critical part in drawing the viewers back to the small screen. Ahmed and Khan write scripts that revolve around regular issues faced by middle and lower-middle class people resonating with many of them. Deglamourised performances, powerful dialogues or even crude ones but very much rooted in Karachi’s authentic lingo especially in the case of Khan’s scripts, multiple problems faced by characters are the highlights of these two writers’ screenplays. Whether it is Mann-o-Salwa, Meri Zaat Zarra-e-Benishan, Malaal, Jhumka Jaan and Doraha, all penned by Ahmed and broadcasted in the last couple of years, have been highly popular because of their subject matter.

 

Malaal directed by Mehreen Jabbar, explored the relationship of an older woman and a younger man along with the marriage of two incompatible individuals who have a wide age gap. Weaved into the storyline was an internet-based relationship that is abruptly ended when the girl decides to get married to a handsome US well-settled man whom she barely knows. Mann-o-Salwa directed by Javed, chartered the rise of a woman from humble origins to a high-end escort who is spiritually and emotionally distraught. Most of these plays have been shown by Hum TV, which was launched by Sultana Siddiqui in 2005, a respected former director in PTV, a channel that has played a significant role in drawing back viewers with quality dramas. “Hum TV has played a major role in diverting people from routine dramas. I still remember fondly Lahasil and Mann-o-Salwa which the channel showed,” says Soomro.

 

Following the lead of Hum TV, other channels too have started to invest in strong plays. For instance last year Geo showed Meri Zaat Zarra-e-Benishan (MZZBN). This was scripted by Ahmed and became a massive success. With its central theme on taking false oath over the Holy Quran and its consequences, skilful acting especially by Samiya Mumtaz and Samina Peerzada, a heartfelt title song by Rahat Fatah Ali Khan, scored a five on the rating system where normally a scoring of two or three is considered a hit for a drama. This rating was unprecedented in the history of satellite television, according to Abdullah Kadwani, the head honcho of Seventh Sky Productions that produced MZZBN. The serial received a phenomenal 1, 68,000 emails and 6.3 million hits on various websites. “We were selling an average of 100 DVDs of MZZBN every month,” says Naseer Ahmed, salesman at Laraib music and film shop.

 

Another duo who must be credited for this resurgence is writer Fasih Bari Khan and director S. Mazhar Moin. Their focus on lower middle class themes shorn of artifice has been a successful formula. In fact it has done so well that their telefilm Burnes Ki Road Neelofar (ARY Digital), which was about a lower-middle class harassed housewife and a mother of nine kids, that it garnered a best supporting actress award for Hina Dilpazeer Khan, incidentally her debut, at the 7th Karafilm festival in 2009. Specialising in tele-films the duo has explored a range of ground-breaking topics. In Lunch with Lubna (Hum TV, 2010) an emotionally weak veteran actress breaks down under the insensitive questioning of a celebrity anchorperson and Karakti Bijlian (Geo, 2011) depicted the struggles of ageing stage performers.

 

Besides the scripts, improved production values with bigger budgets have contributed significantly to the scope of dramas. Crisp and clear images, superior sound quality along with authentic set design and costumes have also increased viewership. “The period play Dastaan was very well-made,” says Soomro. A high-budgeted drama, Dastaan was an adaptation of a well-known book authored by Razia Butt set during the Partition. “We invested heavily in the costumes and the sets of Dastaan that each episode costed us an average of 10 to 11 lakh rupees,” says Siddiqui, Chairperson of Eye Television Network. She also adds that the drama even attracted several advertisers, so much so that she had to decline quite a few since too many commercials irritates viewers.

 

The question that arises is will the good times last? Mehmood thinks that they will. “We have come back to topics related to our lives and have salvaged what we lost,” he says. Siddiqui however is not optimistic unless the television industry adopts some long-term measures. “We will have to invest in improving technical skills of our human resources. My fear is that there will be deterioration of quality if we don’t set up television academies where people are trained in all aspects such as cinematography, set design, acting, script-writing and direction. And we as in the media houses need to do this,” says Siddiqui.

Ronaq Jahan Ka Nafsyati Gharana: A coarse but hilarious account about three desperate-to-get-married sisters

First aired: November 2010, Beamed at: Ary Digital

Cast: Hina Dilpazeer Khan, Asma Waqas, Shahnaz Pervez, Nadia Afgan, Beenish Chauhan, Shabbir Jan

Long time ago (probably in the 1980s), I watched an extremely depressing play on PTV about three ageing single sisters. With silvering hair and their lives a never-ending empty abyss, one wished the sisters just died or disappeared from the face of this earth. Needless to say, the writer hammered in the fact that life for a single woman was wretched and simply not worth living if she didn’t have a husband.

Not much has changed since then it seems. S. Mazhar Moin and Faseeh Barih Khan, the director-writer duo, who specialise in lower-middle class dramas, examine the lives of three sisters who are unmarried, educated and working women in Ronaq Jahan Ka Nafsyati Gharana. The sisters, whose names it seems were kept by Hamdard Ka Davakhana, Gul-e-Yasmeen (Asma Waqas; Bushra Ansari’s sister) , Gul-e-Rana (Shehnaz Parvez, famous for her role in the memon family drama Such Much) and Gul-e-Banafshan (Nadia Afgan) are ruled by their tyrannical mother Ronaq Jahan (Hina Dilpazeer Khan) who has thwarted many proposals for her daughters since according to her the men are interested only in their bank balance. Even when the daughters agree to the proposals, the mother-from-hell Ronaq Jahan, scares them with tales of blood-sucking mothers-in-laws.

Thus, the sisters resort to desperate measures. Gul-e-Yasmeen, who is a principal in a school, favours a staff teacher whose brother-in-law has recently been widowed and wants the teacher to set up with him. Gul-e-Rana, a homeopathic doctor, keeps changing the colour of her contact lenses to ensnare her male patients and Gul-e-Banafshan, has affairs with ugly losers and meets them in low-grade restaurants.

Despite my issue with the theme, there are a couple of redeeming factors which makes Ronaq Jahan watchable and enjoyable. One is its sharp script which makes some acute and pertinent observations, such as the amount of respect given to each sister is directly proportional to her earnings and that is shown through the kind of breakfasts that they are served.

Another acute observation is the out-of-touch mother Ronaq Jahan and her suspicions of beauty salons doubling as massage parlours. There is one hilarious exchange of dialogues about this between Ronaq Jahan and her daughter Gul-e-Yasmeen. (Gul-e-Yasmeen: “Amman main nay sirf manicuree, pedicuree aur facial karaya hai.” Ronaq Jahan: “Aihai kaisay baihooda naam lay rahi hai. Aa hai massage vassage toh nahi karava liya tu nai. Main nay suna hai kay aisee khidmaat kay liyay mardoun ko rakha jata hai beauty parlaroun main.” Gul-e-Yasmeen: “Main nay sirf chehray pay massage karaya hai woh bhi ek makraani aurat say.” Ronaq Jahan: “Zaroor marad ho gee woh.”) Outrageus isn’t it? Even though this scene was explicitly racist yet I doubled up with laughter since the fact of the matter is that some of us privately do pass such remarks.

Should the writer have brought this out in the open or kept it under wraps, is a debatable issue. But more importantly, the writer-director duo should meet those single unmarried women who lead happy and fulfilling lives and tell their story to the viewers. But then that might make for boring television.

PLAY WITH SIMILAR THEME:

Marhoom Colonel Ki Baitiyaan, directed by Mehreen Jabbar