There is no doubt that we take our TV dramas very seriously. Being unabashedly proud of our actors, following their work, discussing their ventures, and of course, critiquing their acting skills. Despite the extra pinch of drama, we tend to relate to the situations and the characters who are facing those situations. While every character portrayed is special in their own way, the one that stands out from the rest is the one of a mother.
We love our moms – at home, in advertisements, and how they are portrayed in fiction. Because the character of a mother is so vital to the entire fabric of our existence, we can never deny its importance. The character of a mother is someone we instantly relate to or look up to. A mother within herself holds a whole myriad of emotions and layers. The mother will always make a fascinating subject of any story.
However, the characters of mothers in our TV dramas have lately become monotonous and repetitive.
The same faces
Let’s flashback. There was a movie trend in the ’90s when every Lollywood film almost had the same star cast. ‘Reema, Babar Ali, Shaan’ or ‘Meera, Shaan, Babar Ali’; even then it was quite a task for the audiences to identify and enjoy the content.
Today the same is happening with the supporting cast of our dramas. It is quite incomprehensible why the makers continue to cast Saba Faisal and Saba Hameed in every drama in similar roles. Some projects feature them in the same capacity; to name a few, the recently concluded ‘Ghalti’, ‘Kahin Deep Jalay’ to ongoing ‘Bandhey Aik Dour Se’, and ‘Ghisi Piti Mohabbat’. It takes a while to recall which play are we watching as the faces and acting are all the same.
To make the situation worse, their characters are one dimensional having no arc and soul, garnished with needless overlong sequences that suffocate the plot and make it monotonous. Adding more to the horror are the conventional dialogues such as ‘Beta Khana Laga Doon’, ‘Fikar Na Karo, Sub Theek Hojaye Ga’, ‘Shaadi Ke Baad Larki Ka Sausural Hi Sub Kuch Hota Hai’, ‘Iss Kal ki Larki Kau Tau Mai Aisa Sabak Sikhao Gi’ etc. Both Faisal and Hameed are veterans but doing the same characters over and over again is a disgrace to their craft and evokes disappointment for the viewers.
Categories of mothers
Considering how the mothers on Pakistani TV can be neatly categorized as The Suffering One, The Scheming One, and The One With All The One-Liners; Saba Hameed and Saba Faisal have perfected the art of playing an on-screen mother. It has come to a point where the two veterans can practically sleepwalk through their characters because the writing of the script doesn’t give them much range to begin with.
Generally, their roles are set up around a rigid hierarchy in the family dominated by the male who calls upon all the members to live by his rules. Within this structure, the poor mother has her demarcated space in which she fulfills her designated tasks. Resultantly, they all look and behave in a particular way, except for a few who reflect like a Pakistani mother.
The main problem
Back in the day, our dramas depicted mothers as the epitome of strength, more human, and more realistic. They were more layered instead of caricatures with an abundance of just one trait as their whole personality. That is because the writing of the drama acknowledged that a positive and empowered depiction of a mother ultimately reflects upon the quality of the story that the script is telling.
Progressive writing can become a tool for a change, a change for the better by giving them voice and representation to deal with issues in the male-delaminated industry. The current quality of writing of Pakistani dramas needs to realize that a mother in the story is not there just to cry about the misery their children are going through or acting as the cause of misery for the children in the first place.
Being a mother is not an easy task. Far too often the role of a mother gets taken for granted in our society. And the depiction of motherhood in our dramas is not helping the situation. It is high time Pakistani dramas get out of their monotonicity when it comes to motherhood and start writing more complex and layered mothers. And maybe get some other actresses to play those characters too.