I have never been a huge television fan. Growing up, my dad was against all forms of TV, believing it to be not very good for growing girls and so we were on a very restricted schedule for television watching. The television was only switched on in the evening and we could only watch approved channels and shows.
Of course, most of this was during the era of a single (and later two) state sponsored channels. I remember the happiness people felt when the Indian television industry was opened we got access to a plethora of channels.
I just read the above paragraphs and started laughing! BB & GG can never understand this if I ever explain my growing up days to them. Actually, they too rarely watch television, preferring to get their entertainment through YouTube and other streaming devices.
Anyway, last year when I was bored, one day, I randomly started watching videos on YouTube which popped up on the Recommended feed and I got hooked on to watching dramas from Pakistan. These dramas are in their official language, Urdu, but because it is so similar to the Indian language of Hindi, if you are fluent in Hindi, you understand around 80-90% of what is being said. The rest you can infer from what is happening on the screen. In fact, since the time I have started watching these serials, I can find myself using Urdu words unconsciously!
I now watch dramas and soaps from two channels and love most of them. Unlike the Indian dramas and soaps which were mostly formulaic and with very predictable story lines (mostly about a plucky and pure heroine and her Mother-in-law who spends all her time plotting against her) the dramas from the channels I watch have very good story lines. The best part, unlike most Indian serials, these dramas have a clearly defined story with a start, middle and end and most end in a few months so you never ever got bored of them. This is unlike some serials which have been going on for more than five years!
Stories and plots are also quite sensitively taken and I am surprised (in a good way) to find strong women characters in these serials. The story lines are varied from plots which are sappy love stories to revenge dramas, to a very well taken drama about a girl who is punished for liking a boy and who, against all odds becomes a doctor. Even at this point, she is being discriminated against and I would love to see her reach her goals and cock a finger at her detractors.
What I don’t like about these dramas are probably very feminist in nature, but it is the concept that a girl or even a grown adult belonging to the male of her family; her father first, then her husband and if she doesn’t have a father or husband, then it’s her brother who decides her life. It doesn’t really give the woman, especially those who belong to lower strata of society a voice and many dramas show if a woman is self-sufficient, then she has to endure and wade through the taunts of the people in the society she lives in. Women who are from the more economically advantaged families have it a slightly better though. This is true to a large extent in India also, especially in the semi-urban and rural areas where women are seen as mere chattels and wearing western clothes, using and speaking a mobile phone is seen as the promiscuous behaviour they indulge in. I can go on and on about this, but this is material for another post!
Another thing I don’t like is the concept of triple talaq or the concept where a man holds the woman he is married to absolute hostage because he has the power to divorce her by uttering the words “I divorce you” thrice. In almost every drama or serial I have seen, at some point or the other, a male character will threaten his wife that if she does not do <insert demand by husband> he will divorce her and throw her out of his home. It does not matter if the man was drunk, angry or not in his senses, or even if uttered between just the two of them, the words once uttered become irrevocable. I wonder if this is the real reality in such societies or is something that a director uses to create more drama. I hope it is the latter because such scenes make me as a woman quite upset!
So if anyone wants to want dramas and serials which are different from the typical Indian soaps you see, just look out for Pakistani dramas. You also get a glimpse (even if it is manufactured and not absolutely real) into this country’s culture. If you remember, this was a country I had wanted to visit before I die. Read more about that post here.
Do you watch Pakistani dramas? I’d love to get more recommendations, though these days where I am going to find the time to watch, I don’t know. Do comment below.