We are in an uncommonly busy period of TV drama. If Saba Qamar ka drama is on Hum, Sajal Aly on Geo, another super star performance in another hit serial on ARY. Say that’s Monday, the start of the week, and the rest of the week will offer as promising a drama playlist — just keep surfing, recline on a sofa, in an air-conditioned room, while sipping lemonade.
Though the contemporary dramas provide ample non-stop entertainment to viewers (they did more so in Covid times), they are below the waterline, the top is still to come. These dramas are crowd-pleasing, mostly about shadi, talaq, saas-bahu, cheating, beating — they are disturbing, not simple yet complex and miscellaneous as the dramas of yore.
One is reminded of the 1980s dramas, when there was no surfing of channels, only one drama at one time, at 8pm. You missed it then, you missed it forever. The option to watch it later or on YouTube, ad-less, was unthinkable. Then there was this occasional long teleplay over Eid or Independence Day to look forward to. Remember innocent Uzma Gillani, Khalida Riyasat, Roohi Bano or dashing Asif Raza Mir, Rahat Kazmi and Javed Sheikh? Remember Moin Akhtar, Anwer Maqsood and their likes make special appearances and perform to an audience rolling with laughter? Remember Fifty Fifty?
The thing is when we lived that era, we never considered it golden.
Here’s to celebrating the dramas of the 1980s.
One of the most realistic depictions of Pakistan’s feudal society, Waris was star-studded, with a powerful performance by Firdous Jamal, accompanied by Munawar Saeed, Abid Ali, Aurangzeb Laghari, Uzma Gillani, Samina Ahmed, Tahira Naqvi and others. It is a story of a feudal family, their struggles to protect land and wealth, despite family tussles. It was directed by Nusrat Thakur and Ghazanfer Ali, and was written by Amjad Islam Amjad.
Ankahi, written by Hasina Moin and directed by Syed Mohsin Ali and Shoaib Mansoor, became a cult classic, for the serial spawned a thousand Sanas. It starred Shehnaz Sheikh, Shakeel, Javed Sheikh. Ankahi is remembered for its subtle humour, crisp dialogues and forthright and candid Sana Murad, played by Shehnaz Sheikh, who wanted to make it big, till she landed in Taimoor Ahmad’s (Shakeel) office as a secretary. After many twists and turns in the beautifully woven story, Sana lives happily with Faraz, played by Javed Sheikh.
Jamshed Ansari will always be remembered in the role of Timmy, the butler.
Aangan Terha (1984)
A soaring hit of its time, Aangan Terha was a satire, starring Salim Nasir, Shakeel, Arshad Mehmood, Durdana Butt and Bushra Ansari. It was directed by Qaiser Farooq and written by Anwar Maqsood. It has perhaps been Maqsood’s best play of his writing career, at least so far. It threw light on the political landscape and governance of the 1980s. He said in an interview that the 12-episode project happened during Ziaul Haq’s time, when bars were imposed on dance and music.
Dhoop Kinaray (1987)
Perhaps, the depiction of romance, the love language, of this play matches none other among Pakistani dramas. The romance between two doctors – Dr Zoya (Marina Khan) and Dr Ahmer (Rahat Kazmi) – offered something special, without the couple springing around rooftops, trying to catch a glimpse of the other.
Kehkashan Awan’s role as Anji, Zoya’s childhood friend, is remarkable. She gets engaged to Dr. Irfan (Sajid Hassan) who is a junior colleague of Dr. Ahmer.
The 1985 PTV classic, Tanhaiyan, was written by Hasina Moin and directed by Shehzad Khalil. The play featured Shahnaz Sheikh, Marina Khan, Asif Raza Mir, Badar Khalil, Qazi Wajid, Behroze Sabzwari and many others in irreplaceable roles. For the first time, the Pakistani viewers were exposed to two young emancipated women (sisters), challenging the traditional roles and running businesses and making a living.
The two sisters – Zara and Sania – had to gain control of their lives after the death of their parents. Their aunt, Aani (played wonderfully by Badar Khalil), was their support base. Zain’s (Asif Raza Mir) love and admiration for Zara was unshakable. He expressed his love for her in the last episode. Imagine the suspense!