A still from Udaari
A still from Udaari

While the Pakistani film industry has lost its ability to connect with the majority because of the high price of tickets, dramas remain the surest way to explore difficult issues in Pakistani society and their reach is beyond borders.

Pakistani dramas are a powerful agent for raising awareness and even changing minds; the credit goes to some of our fantastic writers and directors who know how to translate the toughest and at times most delicate issues on to the small screen.

These are perhaps the most difficult dramas to make because they can run into trouble with censorship, with regional and tribal sensitivities but our fearless creative media pushes on, producing some eye-opening content despite every obstacle.

Don’t miss out on these quality dramas because the subjects are difficult, they are all well worth your time.

Udaari

Starring Farhan Saeed, Urwa Hocane, Ahsan Khan, Bushra Ansari and Samiya Mumtaz among others.

Despite dealing with a serious topic like child abuse and rape, this serial - written by Farhat Ishtiaq and directed by Ehteshamuddin - has an uplifting feeling and teaches survivors that they can move on and live their lives.

Sang-e-Mar Mar

Written by Mustafa Arifi and directed by Saife Hassan, this thrilling serial is Shakespearian in its breadth and should count as one of the masterpieces of the small screen.

A stark, unrelenting story of rural Swat and honour culture, which suppresses and controls both the women and men of that part of society. The cast includes Naumaan Ijaz, Sania Saeed, Mikaal Zulfikar, Paras Masroor and Kubra Khan in lead roles.

Meri Guriya

This Ali Hassan directorial A blood chilling thriller about a child serial killer hiding in plain sight.

Don’t be afraid step in and watch how our culture offers more protection to the perpetrators of such crimes than the victims in Radain Shah's heart-wrenching story. Sonya Hussyn, Sania Saeed, Mohsin Abbas Haider and Sajid Hassan did justice to their roles.

Nanhi

A look into the life of a mentally challenged young girl (Sajal Aly) in the poorest area of Karachi . Raw and painful this story is no fairy tale but it is inhabited by quite a few monsters. This one by Mona Haseeb is not for the faint of heart or those looking for light relief.

Javed Shaikh, Shahroz Sabswari, Shahood Alvi and Asma Abbas also hold their own in the Haseeb Hassan project.

Inkaar

No means no but Rehan (Imran Ashraf) refuses to accept Hajra’s (Yumna Zaidi) refusal. Fair warning, this could have been an almost flawless classic but the last episode of the serial contradicts the entire premise of accountability its meant to be promoting.

Still, this Kashif Nisar directed drama is worth a watch for the thriller like tension and the authentic characterisations by writer Zafar Mairaj that will have you asking, “what can you afford?”

Aakhri Station

Seven stories, about seven women made in Sarmad Khoosat’s distinctive artistic style, sponsored by the Kashf Foundation.

From forced prostitution to depression this series highlights the hidden struggles of women beautifully penned down by Amna Mufti. Featuring Sanam Saeed, Eman Suleman and Mikaal Zulfikar in titular roles.

Zun Mureed

Another Amna Mufti creation worth checking out; Omair Rana, Nadia Khan, Hina Bayat are brilliant in this Ahmad Kamran directed project.

We can pass laws to protect women against domestic violence but how does a woman survive after she reports her husband ? What is the difference between a wife and a servant who cooks and cleans ? How one slap can open our eyes to what is happening right before our eyes.

Kankar

An Umera Ahmed serial directed by Aabis Raza is a good match.

A detailed look at the mindset that allows domestic violence to flourish in our culture; Sikander (Fahad Mustafa) claims to love Kiran (Sanam Baloch) and defies his family to marry her but the cycle of violence he has seen as child destroys the love between them. Will Kiran survive or will she always be the victim?

Khaas

Saba (Sanam Baloch) and Amar (Ali Rehman Khan) should be the ideal couple, and handsome, wealthy, generous and funny Ammar should be the ideal husband. So why is Saba so unhappy?

Married to a self-obsessed narcissist, will Saba escape from his emotional abuse? Saba’s journey of self-realisation and her escape is the most important part of this story by Sarwat Nazir brought to the big screen by Danish Nawaz.

Ullu Baraye Frukht Nahi

A searing indictment of the way greed drives men to stop women from inheriting land, with the support of the feudal system. A surprising, shocking drama by Mufti yet again that might have been better with a few less episodes but addictive none the less.

This show has won numerous awards, and serves as a dark indictment on a society where men can abuse their power with impunity. Shoutout to standout performances by Naumaan Ijaz, Saba Qamar, Yumna Zaidi and Omair Rana directed by Kashif Nisar.

Mohabbat Rooth Jaye Tho

Focusing on inheritance laws and how women are abused to prevent them inheriting land, this Faiza Iftikhar drama helmed by late director Roomi Insha gives a rare, nuanced perspective on the difference between love and infatuation.

Shanawaz (Humayun Saeed) loves Shumail (Mahnoor Baloch), in fact he sacrificed everything to marry her. Why does he want a divorce after ten years of marriage? Why doesn’t he want children? Who is Maryam (Syra Shahroz), and why is Shahnawaz taking care of this young girl?

Baaghi

The daring, tragic story loosely based on Pakistani social media star Qandeel Baloch; this flamboyant Pakistani YouTube star made headlines with her shocking murder at the hands of her brother. In life, Qandeel (played by Saba Qamar) never quite fitted into the boxes of 'slut' or 'feminist' that people wanted to put her in.

Also starring Osman Khalid Butt, Ali Kazmi and Khalid Malik, Baaghi is an emotional, empathetic but never air brushed take on a working-class woman’s struggle for the fame she longed for. Director Farooq Rind pays close attention to detail to bring Umera Ahmad and Shazia Khan's screenplay to life.


This is the third of a series on which Pakistani shows to watch while social distancing. Stay tuned for part four, which will be highly recommended psychological and supernatural thrillers.

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