The troubled image of modern Pakistani women conjured up by Pakistani dramas is extremely distorted and single-dimensional. Stories, it is said, are subtle yet are the most influential way of documenting the social evolution of society. The story of a woman sells but the modern media has gone one step ahead by proving that the story of a woman being abused, tortured, beaten, and humiliated sells faster.
It has grown to the extent where Pakistani drama makers don’t consider that the portrayal of societal issues is a responsibility that needs to be dealt with sensibly. One such issue is domestic violence. Addressing domestic violence in a sensitive and meaningful manner is crucial, as mishandling this topic, as seen in our dramas, can have a worse impact than any explicit content. To prevent uncomfortable situations in family living rooms, such disturbing scenes should come with prior warnings. When children witness violent portrayals in dramas, they often relate them to their own families, causing deep-seated insecurity and fear. Moreover, explicit depictions of domestic violence can create embarrassment within the family.
Pakistani TV shows sometimes make toxic relationships seem admirable, which can confuse people about what a healthy relationship looks like. They make unhealthy actions like stalking, being overly controlling, and manipulating emotions appear romantic, making these harmful patterns seem normal in real-life relationships.
A recent example of such a show is Tere Bin on Geo TV tells a story where the male main character acts possessively and controlling toward the female lead. Instead of showing these behaviors as problematic, the drama presents them as signs of intense love and passion. This sends a distorted message to viewers, giving them a false understanding of what a healthy relationship should be like. Instead of many problematic twists and turns, the drama continues to garner success and appreciation from the audience. However, the tables turned when the serial tried to imply marital rape in the storyline which made them the center of all the backlash.
Sadly, the drama which was already popular had to take this route to gain fame and viewership. Upon receiving strong criticism, the makers of the serial tried to edit the plot with weird voiceovers that just didn’t add up. As a result, the audience lambasted the makers for the failed attempt of removing the problematic scenes which were non-sensical. The makers of the show were bashed for not taking a sensitive issue such as marital rape responsibly, instead, it was glorified and portrayed that this is normal.
This is where PEMRA must take action. It is the same authority that banned the awareness-based drama Udaari for discussing a societal issue such as child abuse. It was a drama that decently and responsibly attempted to spread awareness about the matter. Surprisingly, PEMRA served a show-cause notice to HUM TV for showing ‘unethical’ scenes. But the same regulatory body has nothing to contribute when the item songs become part of Pakistani movies and when domestic violence is commonly shown on TV screens.
Families are no longer enjoying Pakistani TV shows together. The slow stories in these programs seem to be influenced by Indian soap operas. Even worse, our TV shows represent things that go against our cultural and social goals. Pakistani dramas need to strike a balance between entertainment and responsible storytelling. While controversies can add intrigue and captivate audiences, it is crucial to handle sensitive topics with care, research, and sensitivity. Creating awareness and promoting positive change should be the ultimate goal that Pakistani dramas seriously lack.