2016 was a year filled with lots of emotions, drama and masala for the Pakistani drama industry. We have a set of directors, actors and producers who have always made much applauded dramas, while on the other hand, we have a pool of artists who are always set to bring out taboo topics and make an impact.
The dilemma to decide which of the drama rightfully made it big due to its content and and which were given overrated popularity for the love of cast and location is still unanswered.
Here are some of the dramas who stood-out in 2016:
If you are tired of the usual ‘mazloom aurat‘ or ‘bholi larki‘ suffering the slings and arrows of cruel fate, Anmol is here to rescue you. Played by Mehwish Hayat, this dabangg character is not just a pretty face; she is strong, intelligent and very resourceful. When businessman-cum-goon Mohid (played by Humayun Saeed), falls in love with her she refuses to accept his proposal and meets every challenge he sets for her with one of her own.
Directed in a suitably ‘filmi’ style by Nadeem Baig of Pyarey Afzal and Jawani Phir Nahi Aani fame, this fast-paced story is a battle of wits and egos, where the main characters are unwilling to back down an inch. Writer Faiza Iftikhar (who has earlier delivered Roag and AunnZara) delivers a complete package to the audience; humour, social commentary and pure entertainment all rolled into one sharply plotted drama.
Despite complaints about the lack of screen chemistry between the lead couple and some contradictions in the story line, this drama remains at the top of the ratings. Mann Mayal is tangible proof that whether he is awake or asleep in a role, the public loves watching Hamza Ali Abbasi on screen. Maya Ali has surprised critics with a strong performance as Mannu — the naive girl next door. Lush sets, bright lights and soaring background music makes it an easily digestible piece of entertainment.
The serial is directed by Haseeb Hassan — who delivered a big hit last year in the form of Dayar e Dil — and written by Samira Fazal — the writer of many popular serials like Shukk, Alvida and Dastan. The cast also includes Gohar Rasheed, who has given a solid performance as Mannu’s villainous husband. While the serial is, may be, losing its edge for some, the approaching entry of a strong actress like Aisha Khan promises to bring the zing back into the story.
The theme music from this drama won the best song on LUX awards 2017.
After Rehaii, this is Farhat Ishtiaq’s — who has previously written Humsafar and Dayar e dil — second serial in collaboration with the NGO, The Kashaf foundation. Rehaii was a brilliant drama about the evils of child marriage, and Udaari also revolves around very serious issues such as child abuse and sexual assault. Pakistani dramas have never shied away from broaching tough subjects but such subjects must be handled with respect, knowledge and aesthetic sense. Director Ehtashamuddin handled a similar story in Sadqay Tumharey and managed to avoid any overt sensationalism without losing impact.
Udaari stars Ahsan Khan in a negative role opposite Sammiya Mumtaz, with Bushra Ansari, Farhan Saeed and Urwa in the leads. Farhan’s presence means we might get to hear some great songs. Since Farhat Ishtiaq is known as the queen of romance, hopefully this drama too will be as powerful and compassionate as her previous work.
This drama is everyone’s guilty pleasure. Starring model Eshal Fayaz and Noor Hassan, the lead characters suffer a complete reversal in fortune and are forced into a life of misery and poverty because they disobeyed and disgraced their parents by running away to get married. Putting some of the more ridiculous plot points of this morality tale aside, the tight direction and strong performances will make it worth your while.
The story, till now, has been an unending saga of one crime which includes ten episodes of unlikely punishments. But the chemistry between the lead pair makes this drama interesting to watch every week.
There are some obvious loopholes too. For example, the couple eats biscuits because they have no money for food, but Noor Hassan never runs out of volatizing hair gel and Eshal Fayaz’s nails are always manicured. However, Ahmed Zeb and Farah Shah even out these weaknesses with their superlative performances.
This is a simple, well-made drama which proves that a big budget isn’t necessary when everyone is at the top of their game. Mehar Bano loses her husband to the manipulations of her psychotic sister in law Fari. When Fari’s ex-fiancé Hassan turns up and begins to fall in love with the beautiful young widow, Fari must find a way to get rid of Mehar Bano.
With fabulous performances from both Ushna Shah and Faryal Mahmood, this TV serial is actually a well-crafted thriller.