Pakistani serials were cool in the 80’s. Do they have an audience today?  Some first impressions

We Indians have always enjoyed Pakistani Serials and the new channel, Zindagi from Zee Network is once again creating ripples of interest with the 4 Pak serials that run from 8 PM each evening – Zindagi Gulzar Hia, Aunn Zara, Kash Mein Teri Beti Na Hoti and Kitni Girhain Baqi Hai. My colleague on this site has already spoken about what Indian TV Should Learn from Pakistani TV, and I do agree that the there is much to recommend these TV shows – the fact that they tell a story succinctly and don’t carry on endlessly, the fact that the music is not intrusive, that the content is superior (at least in some cases) and so on.

But when I watch these shows, my principal feeling is that of being grateful that I am a woman born in India and not across the border in our neighbouring nation. My mother, a champion serial watcher also weighed in with her opinions and these are some first impressions:

The men are misogynists…seriously guys this is 2014!!

zindagi gulzar hai3 Pakistani Serials on Zindagi – They More or Less Suck!!In Zindagi Gulzar Hai the protagonist Zaroon disapproves of his sister returning home late though he comes home at the same late night hour. He disapproves of a female friend’s outfit and claims that he can do what he wants because he is a man. He makes no apology, stating this for the fact that it is. And this is a modern man, in a contemporary ethos.

The Gender Bias and Inequality is Disturbing

kitni girhain ab baqi hai Pakistani Serials on Zindagi – They More or Less Suck!!There are overtones of male chauvinism and gender inequality that run through the serials. There is the woman who is supposed to ‘obey’ her husband and the man who married a second time because his first wife did not bear him a son. There is the woman who needs to be divorced because she has become ‘nafarman’ (disobedient) and the career woman who, according to her own son, must ask the permission of her husband prior to taking a business trip… Our serials are regressive, no doubt, but less obviously so.

The Fun is not Funny Enough

Aunn Zara3 Pakistani Serials on Zindagi – They More or Less Suck!!Aunn Zara Pakistani Serials on Zindagi – They More or Less Suck!!Aunn Zara is a serial about two people who get married to gain independence from their respective families – families that are well meaning and affectionate but oppressive nevertheless. It’s a sweet story and the protagonists are cute and likeable. The toyboyish girl and the highly protected boy make for an interesting dynamic as do the other characters in the serial. But somehow the situations aren’t as fun or amusing as they could have been. The premise is so promising that this could have been a lot funnier.

We Miss the Glamour

Indian serials Pakistani Serials on Zindagi – They More or Less Suck!!All said and done, our serials are visually so grand, that we tend to miss this in the understatement and realism of the Pak serials. Truth be told, we miss the over-the-topness of our serials. Subtlety is all very well but where is the colour and the ornate sets and the garish makeup and the unbelievable clothes? Also where is the slow mo, and the clashing music and the echoing dialogue to tell us when to pay attention and when to tune out. Our Indian serials are very helpful that way – they tell us so much about the situations, the characters and the story. You can miss a week of our serials and still pick up where you left off, without wondering what happened.

Many of the Stories Are Just Too Depressing

Kash Mein Teri Beti Na Hoti Geo Tv Pakistani Serials on Zindagi – They More or Less Suck!!Female foeticide and exploitation, girls consistently treated unjustly, the grinding poverty and wide spread, entrenched social inequity – these are some of the themes that stories from the serial Kitni Girhain Baqi Hain (each episode is an individualtale based on a short story or a real incident)  Kash Mein Teri Beti Na Hoti touch on. The stories undoubtedly are admirable attempts at bringing about awareness and social change, but they are just too depressing for Prime Time viewing in my own humble opinion; a time for escapism and entertainment rather than pondering weighty issues?

No steamy scenes – boring!!!

zindagi gulzar hai Pakistani Serials on Zindagi – They More or Less Suck!!zindagi gulzar hai2 Pakistani Serials on Zindagi – They More or Less Suck!!All that restraint! Frankly difficult to take! How about a little honest affection?  Hand holding is as far as they are willing to go it would seem? Kissing appears to be out of the question, unless it is unequivocally platonic.

Aunn Zara2 Pakistani Serials on Zindagi – They More or Less Suck!!(that’ the grandma kissing her much adored grandson I’ll have you know). But I’m willing to watch a little more to see if we can get at least a hug out of them somewhere?


By – Reena Daruwalla



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