Entertainment industries worldwide still need to cover a lot of ground when it comes to representing female characters in fiction. There are countless examples of stories shown on the screens where the female characters are used to prop up the value of the male characters. Surprisingly, the Pakistani drama industry seldom faces this problem.
Almost every Pakistani drama has a female character at the center of things. Most of the story revolves around women in Pakistani dramas. The real challenge here is that those characters are not memorable enough. Instead of coming across as individuals with their complex layers and nuances, the female characters appear to be more like stock characters.
So, we have made a simple 3-step guide for our Pakistani drama writers that they can follow to write more memorable and inspiring female characters for Pakistani dramas.
Give them other aspirations than getting married
Marriage plays an integral part in an individual’s life, especially in Pakistan. It is understandable when female characters in our dramas dream of the perfect fairytale wedding with a prince charming. With the way, society has drilled the idea of marriage being the only goal that women should focus on achieving, it is no surprise that our Pakistani dramas represent this mentality in their female characters.
However, it gets annoying when that is all they focus on. Every drama has that one character who is so obsessed with her marriage that it looks like she doesn’t have any other life beyond it. We’ve had some great female characters like Kashaf from Zindagi Gulzar Hai and Zara from Daam, who did not let their romantic storylines define them. Both of them did end up getting married, but only after they had achieved success in their professional lives.
There is no denying the importance of marriage but a person’s worth is not calculated by their marital status. Our female characters should represent that.
Teach them the art of ‘moving on’
Our Pakistani dramas are full of plotlines that revolve around a love triangle. Loving someone dearly and then watching them get married to someone else is an indescribable feeling. Many of the women in our dramas go through this ordeal almost every other week. And then they spend most of the drama either sulking about their one-sided love or trying to emotionally manipulate the male characters into marrying them.
Processing pain takes time and it has its own stages. But what female characters in our dramas do is threaten to kill themselves if the other person doesn’t acknowledge their ‘love.’ This emotional manipulation in the name of love is not only toxic but it sends a horrible message that if someone fails in love then their entire life becomes meaningless.
Life is all about celebrating what you have and making peace with what you don’t have; the same holds true for love as well. Shaheena from ARY’s Aangan and Zainee from Dar Si Jaati Hai Sila were prime examples of how women can move on, instead of the pain of not getting married to a particular someone destroy them.
The pain of not succeeding in love is tremendous but romantic love is not the only love in the world. It is self-love that makes you the most at peace.
Make them complex
It seems like the writers in our dramas can only think of two roles for women: either they belong to one extreme, the perfect woman, or the other extreme, the wicked woman. Saira from Mein Na Jaano is an example of the former kind, one who never spoke up against the injustice against her character until the last episode. Nigaar from Balaa is the example of the latter type with only one goal in mind: to make life miserable for those around her.
We hardly see any grey female characters in our dramas. Noori from Ranjha Ranjha Kardi and Zubaida from Bari Aapa are a few examples of grey characters. They weren’t completely good or evil, which is what made them enjoyable. And it made them more relatable as well. If people in real life cannot be easily categorized as pure good and pure bad, why demand that the same be applied to our female characters?
No person is completely good and no person is completely bad. Give your female characters layers that make them real so the audience can continue to empathize with them.
Our writers are more than capable of writing complex female characters – and they have in the past. But lately, there has been no diversity whatsoever in female roles. We hope that this little guide will help them in rediscovering their ability to write female characters that have always been the pride of our Pakistani dramas.