It takes a lot of guts to own up to one’s mistake. And today I am in a confessional mood and not a bit ashamed that I went totally wrong about my misconceptions about the series of Pakistani plays shown on Zee channel as “Zindagi live.” When the series began and I found my wife forgetting even National Geographic and Discovery Channel and totally engrossed in the programme, I taunted her that it is people like her who allowed Pakistan to enter our homes when they failed to enter the borders. That was a typical normal statement most likely expected from the RSS camp where I don’t belong but I thought I was displaying my nationalistic colours by mouthing such dialogues. However, having become addicted to some of these plays just by giving company to my wife I must confess that I have reluctantly fallen in love with the series. Although the most famous name from this series is that of Fawad Khan since he also acted in a Hindi film “Khoobsoorat” but I was besotted when I saw “Pyaare Afzal” which is now over. So much so that when I missed the half an hour I checked out what I had missed as if I was going to have an examination the next day.
The storyline of “Pyaare Afzal” where a simple honest young ‘Good for Nothing’ man is sandwiched between the love of three lovely heroines (actually two, one was only pretending to be in love), its main characters and how the story actually rolled out made the play addictive.
Since then many more plays have been attracting huge response from the new as well as the elder generation. The current favourites are ‘Jackson Heights’ set in America, ‘Bilqees’, ‘Noor Bano’ and ‘Kashmkash’. So much so that conversation between women from Delhi to Bhopal or Lucknow now ranges around what is the latest on the circuit. They have a limited range of actors but even the Indian men-folk who made fun of the typical Ekta Kapoor serials have started talking about the Pakistani plays being shown on ‘Zindagi Live’ and comparing the actors.
The unanimous opinion of the people who are actually watching these plays, most of them giving company to their wives while having dinner, is that the actors in the Indian serials are no patch on their Pakistani counter-parts.
But it’s not just about acting. The story-lines are totally different and each play is different and distinct from the other. They are raising issues that the Indian writers are either too lazy to think about or are happy to play the formula stereotypes.
By Amitabh Srivastava