Last year, the Sarmad Khoosat-directed drama serial Humsafar attained widespread popularity. While it did receive its share of criticism from some quarters, the drama was largely appreciated for its cast, direction and story. This goes on to show that the standard of Pakistani dramas is undoubtedly quite high compared to dramas being produced many other countries. Unfortunately, however, even with the quality of dramas being produced locally, our audiences still show a penchant towards foreign dramas.
The arrival of Turkish dramas
The introduction of Turkish dramas into mainstream media is fairly recent and became the talk of the town right after a rather controversial Turkish drama called ‘Ishq-e-Mamnoon hit the airwaves. Televised by a relatively unknown local TV channel called Urdu1, the drama was dubbed in Urdu in order to make it easier for our audiences to understand and soon became known for what many viewers considered to be questionable content by Pakistani standards.
Ishq-e-Mamnoon – The story
The central plot of Ishq-e-Mamnoon revolved around the hero Behlul, his young step-aunt Bihter, his cousin Nihaal and his uncle Mr. Adnan. With its gripping story and the novelty with which it presented the story, the drama managed to grasp everyone’s attention, even those who criticized it scathingly, till the very end. Needless to say, it went on to attain a considerably high viewership rating.
The drama did raise concerns among some segments of the society due to the outfits donned by the ladies, which were thought to be a little too risque to be shown on Pakistani media. Moreover, the drama was not shy about showing close chemistry between the main characters, which would often become too physical by local standards. Beyond the apparent glamour, however, was a riveting story, perfectly complemented by captivating performances and sound direction.
Ishq-e-Mamnoon’s success made way for another Turkish drama, Minahil Aur Khalil, which is currently on air.
Are our channels justified in showing Turkish dramas?
This is one question that was widely asked once Ishq-e-Mamnoon went on air. In fact, similar apprehensions and queries have been raised earlier when many of our leading channels started showing Indian programs.
What needs to be considered here, however, is that every channel relies on ratings. Urdu1 was an unknown channel prior to the airing of Ishq-e-Mamnoon and the controversy surrounding the drama further piqued viewers’ interest in what the hue and cry was all about. Consequently, the channel’s ratings got a significant boost, a fact that did not sit too well with the bigger fish in the media circle.
Perhaps threatened by Urdu1′s overnight popularity, a number of our television channels launched a sort of movement against Turkish dramas and the negative impact they could have on the society. Their efforts to have the serial shut down, however, went in vain as the show went on and finished on a high note, earning a warm response from the viewers.
In light of their severe reaction to Turkish programs being shown on a Pakistani channel, our media seems to be practicing double standards. After all, nearly every entertainment television channel of ours has broadcast Indian television shows at some point in time, without ever bothering to think for a moment if they posed any threat to the society or our culture.
If the issue surrounds the airing of foreign content on local channels, then there should be a blanket rule disallowing any and every foreign program on our electronic media. On the other hand, our own dramas are no less in quality and content than the dramas being produced elsewhere. Support from our media can not only bolster their reputation among the international audiences even further but can also make us self-reliant in televising our original content.