The Ugly Truth About Dramatisation!

Now that our TV drama has become limited to the typification of mere melodramatic domestic insinuation, its classification needs more categories. For the moment, the variety is hardly surprising. Firstly, there’s the usual one-unit family, which goes through an influx of family events, including ubiquitous marriage ceremonies and love affairs. Secondly, there’s the serial that banks on breakups; where the scene starts with two families getting engaged to each other in every facet of life and career. Thirdly, there’s the episode, which has the usual facets of a domestic drama, but adds one track of an important issue. And fourthly, there’s that rare drama serial, which has multitrack manzarnama, with a genuine storyline.

In the first category, you have O Rangreza, where the concentration is basically on just one household. In this category, you have another astounding serial Sang-e-Mar Mar. The second category, with breakups galore, including love affairs coming to an end, and marriages ending abruptly, has such titles as Sanam, which begins with a breakup of a bazahir happily married couple, Hareem Farooq and Osman Khalid Butt.

The third category is known for its better scenario, due to a good subject, which engages the world outside instead of just portraying the familial side. This lists a better serial like Daldal, where the issue of people smuggling is discussed. This third margin also includes Udaari, the most appreciated, artistic serial, with a literary side to it. It talked about child molesters. Sammi, a similar sort, will not be categorised in this list, because it was a multitrack serial, and must join the fourth margin.

Yes, the fourth brigade, which has the potential to pull our drama industry at the top of the world. This multitrack category, which includes a brilliant script like Alif Allah Aur Insan, requires sensitive handling.

This category-based list throws you into a bubble, which gives you an immense ghalat fehmi that all is well with the drama world of Pakistan. This bubble is being relegated to the status of a balloon by great compliments from across the border. Aur hum phoolay naheen samatey! We don’t realise that Indian channels are not known for drama serials. Instead, they are famous for soap operas, with sometimes 2,000 episodes to a serial. Obviously, they have a high opinion for us, where there’s a semblance of real family drama. But, this bubble would burst, when more issue-based, genuine serials take precedence.

I was reading Bushra Ansari’s comment on our drama industry; how our serials have progressed towards sublimity, with our quality being top-notch. But, if serials like Udaari and Sammi are presented after 50 slow-moving and dull serials, then how could this progress be realised as significant in our sphere of entertainment?

Most current serials are falling into a downwards curve, instead of an elevation. For instance, both O Rangreza and Alif Allah Aur Insan (AAAI), have developed negative trends. In the former, Naumaan Ijaz and Sana, after reaching the peak of the script in that ‘poisoned cup’ scene, left us in lurch, with no proof that that afsanvi ishq displayed in that scene, lives on. In AAAI, the pulse, for no rhyme or reason, is quickened to accommodate other households. In Daldal, too, the writer is basically concentrating on household affairs, instead of the problems the son of the soil is facing in foreign land.

Drama, in its classical form from the Middle Ages, popularised famously by Shakespeare, includes characterisation as the crux of it. As we are prone to follow the soap opera trend during the new millennium, we tend to, literally, dump characters into the commercial soup, served abysmally by the pile of ads before and after the first and second break. Therefore, we have men and women, basically acting as chatterboxes, instead of characters from real life. Ultimately, melodrama is the byproduct of this de-characterisation. You can see, for instance, that Armeena is playing a typical, made-to-order girl, who is just there to bring tears to the domestic women’s eyes. I liked Saba Qamar’s Digest Writer more. That role had genuine emotions and vision. There is no help from the script in most dramas like Tumhari Marium, Lagay Na Jiya, Rani, Faisla, and many others. There are just roti dhoti women, and zalim aur laparwah men. Perhaps, a hatred-personified saas is the third kind of role. That’s about it.

Once there is an issue-based drama, chahey woh sona chandi hee kyun na ho, then variety develops, and there’s characterisation, automatically. Like you can see in Andhera Ujala, which was based on our police department. This kind of issue-based drama cannot survive without characters. In Baaghi, where Saba Qamar, plays Qandeel Baloch, you find the details of her make-up making waves.

I find that in Khamoshi, while the issue of domestic maids is aptly dealt with, characters mostly are bland. Of course, Tauqeer Nasir, being a seasoned artiste, is doing his role well enough to get noticed. The girl playing the maid, Zara Noor Abbas, is very impressive. Her expressions are not melodramatic at all, even though the lack of characteristic traits makes her incomplete. Iqra Aziz is doing vamp, but otherwise she is looking the same as in other serials. Our pens are without creative ink. In Dar Si Jaati Hai Sila, there is, at least, some role details. Most performances are good, though the same museebat of khaufzada and ghamzada women abound. I don’t know if any woman will ever be shown to reveal sexual harassment on our TV screen, while the world is full of such damsels these days.

Recently, I was reading a column by Hasina Moin, who, literally tore into the current drama scene. She said she had raised girls to breed fighting qualities in her serials, but, today, she gets frustrated after watching cowering, crying, drooping girls, which is a bad fare for the new generation growing up. It has come to the point where progressive women like Rubina Ashraf and Sakina Samo are cornered to play roles of bitter mother-in-laws. This way, closing all routes for women, as teachers, painters, builders, poetesses, career women, and social workers, the new privatised drama is doing no favour to the women of our society.