If there is one thing that our dramas do best, it’s stereotyping. These stereotypes are mostly offensive and more often than not, entirely baseless fabrications; from the representation of relationships to classism and more.
Most recently (or should I say for a few years), one such portrayal that has disturbed me is that of showcasing Punjabis, a certain way. We have seen this in dramas and even films, such as the Kis Ki Ayegi Baraat series, Suno Chanda, Punjab Nahi Jaungi, etc. Punjabis have always been shown in the same light, either as feudal lords hailing from some village which they own or living in small cities (such as Chichawatni, Gujrat, etc). Why can’t they be shown from Lahore or even Islamabad? Do the big cities not have any Punjabis or is it below these cities to have the supposed ‘Paindus’?
Over the top Punjabiness: A repetitive pattern
Earlier on, when the Baraat series came out on TV, we were introduced with Saima Chaudhry, a fashion designer hailing from Faisalabad. Saima was always shown wearing bright, rang barange outfits with a paranda in her hair. She would not miss any opportunity to showcase her English speaking skills.
With Saima Chaudhry, many other characters of the same league have been inspired. Most recently, having only seen Zara Noor Abbas’s character from Chhalawa, through its trailer, we feel her acting style and representation gives the same vibes as of Saima Chaudhry.
Even in Punjab Nahi Jaungi, the stereotypical portrayal of certain characters was no less than awkwardly mired in the formula stereotypes. What really irritates me is that Punjabis (on screen) need to constantly mention that they are from Punjab and have a complex of speaking full-on Punjabi, interspersed with broken English. They are mostly shown as being under-qualified, with low IQ and just wandering aimlessly. Humayun’s character as Fawad Khagga was the perfect example of this. Even the elders have a certain portrayal which is wearing pagris and smoking hookah and are addressed to as Bebe or Bauji (very Indian inspired).
Of Suno Chanda, Barfi Laddu and more
Moving on, another element which is highlighted ever so often is that Punjabis being overdressed all the time. Like, who wears such blingy, colorful outfits all the time, that too at their own homes? For instance, let’s take everyone’s favorite, Shahana Jamshaid from Suno Chanda (don’t get me wrong, she is my favorite too but it is what is).
Shahana and Punjab clan are always seen in the brightest of outfits 24/7. There is never a moment when Shahana is seen in a more sober outfit sans churian or a lighter lipcolor. But her Chachi Nageena tops everything with the loudest dressing (and who wears sunglasses in the house?). Another item synonymous in these comedy shows is hair accessories, be it parandas or one too many clips making the hair look like a fashion disaster. Upcoming shows, Barfi Laddu, and Shahrukh Ki Saheliyan are also shown taking the same route.
A final word
Talking about the men, they are mostly seen in shalwar kameez, with kajal in their eyes, oily hair, and obviously, that long curled mustache has to be there because much nae te kuch nae. Also, yes we love our parathas and desi ghee but that is not what we eat all the time (except in our Sehris maybe).
From the clothes to the language to the food, these stereotypes need to take a backseat and Punjabis, as a community, need to be shown as more progressive as is what happens in the real world.