The Arrogant Socialite
From Humsafar to Sheher e Zaat, from Zindagi Gulzar Hai to Aks, you might get the impression that wealthy socialites are the source of most of the world’s woes. Usually strong willed women, they are draped in designer fashions and age inappropriate make up, yet despite all their arrogance they manage to produce wonderfully obedient sons like Asher Hussain and Zaroon Junaid. Unlike our soft spoken heroines they refuse to back down and talk to their husbands and sons as If they were equals. Instead of polishing their husband’s mansions they dare to run NGOs while hypocritically shouting at the servants whenever they request help. There seems to be little nuance to these stock characters, none of them are allowed to be kind or generous or in the least bit human. The most obvious inconsistency in their portrayal is of course their complete lack of influence on their son’s character yet huge influence on his behavior
The Spoiled Little Rich Girl
The younger version of the older socialite, self-absorbed and in subtle competition with everyone she meets this character is usually even less nuanced. Yet somehow these lazy, vain creatures manage to gain entrance in the top most universities and manage to get the same qualifications the more hardworking, middle class heroine does. I think it’s time writers stopped inciting class warfare and a started looking at all classes of people as human beings with faults and virtues. Not all rich girls are “little Miss Jihad” or Asmara from Zindagi Gulzar Hai and the mode of someone’s dress does not necessarily define their character. Just as a dupattah covering a girls head does guarantee her good character, neither do jeans nor a sleeveless t-shirt guarantee a bad character.
The obsessed Lover
If there is one character in need of an overhaul it is this one. Saud from Nikher Gaay Ghulaab Saarey , Pasha from Tahir e Lahoti and Taimur from Manjali are just a few examples that come easily to mind . Usually (but not always) a wealthy playboy determined to get the girl, he buys up entire businesses, seats in auditoriums and may even kidnap the girl in question, all in the name of love. Of course he gets the girl and either reforms or continues in villainy. Enough already, such people do not exist and if they did it would be a criminal case not source of romantic fantasy. Idealizing this kind of behavior in anyway leads to culture of harassment and constant danger for women. It is about time this ghost was exorcised from our collective psyche, love cannot be earned it is a thing freely given, but affection can be won through kindness and care. Women are not animals to be corralled or captured and it is about time we started taking that notion seriously.
Mazloom Aurat, or the Victimised Woman
This is perhaps the most prevalent stereotype in Pakistani dramas and boy does it get ratings. Nadia, from Ek tamana lahasil , Umama from Daagh, Haleema from Yahan Pyaar Nahin Hai. These are women who despite the hundreds of injustices they suffer and the constant emotional and sometimes even physical abuse maintain an almost inhumanly cheerful façade to their marriage. Their affection for their often indifferent or abusive spouse remains undiminished despite a surfeit of reasons to at least disengage. It’s understandable that divorce is not a viable option for a lot of women but glorifying victim-hood does not sound healthy either. In each case the woman is seen to wait for the straw that breaks the camels back before she suddenly turns into an assertive, sometimes vengeful angel. Why not show woman who handle their problems and disadvantages in life with dignity and courage like Durr e Shehwar or Meesha from Aik Nayeey Cinderella?
The manipulating Vixen
There is only one man in this entire Universe that can make this woman happy, unfortunately for her our hero always marries someone else. She then embarks on a lifelong campaign (which may span decades and other husbands) to regain his attention and ultimately destroy his marriage: Sara from Humsafar, Deeba from Daagh, Maya from Na kaho Tum Merey Nahin and Tabinda from Sheher e Zaat are a few of the latest examples. Why does this woman always have to be to blame for the hero straying, why can’t the Man take the blame for ruining his relationship with his wife? Adultery is a choice, a second Marriage is a choice but this kind of characterization infantilizes Men, allowing them to duck any sense of accountability.