Fahad Mustafa needs no introduction. As an actor and as a host, Fahad has amassed a loyal fan following who can wait in line for hours just to get a glimpse of this superstar. In his career as an actor, and then as a host, Fahad has made trends and broken records. Who can forget the time when his iconic look as AQ in the popular drama serial Main Abdul Qadir Hoon inspired the youth to get a pair of wayfarer glasses? The records he has broken as the host of Jeeto Pakistan are plenty. And it would be remiss if we don’t mention how it was a film he starred in back in 2014, Na Maloom Afraad, that gave the post-revival Pakistani cinema a new direction.
Simply put, Fahad Mustafa is an inspiration. He is successful, he is loved. He has wooed both the critics and the general audience with his talent and his charm. However, that is Fahad Mustafa the actor and the host. Fahad Mustafa the producer is a completely different story.
Thriving on misery
Fahad Mustafa’s production house, Big Bang Entertainment, has been producing dramas since 2013. With 50+ drama titles produced by the production house, almost all of them have aired on ARY Digital, it is safe to say that Big Bang Entertainment is one of the biggest and most prominent production houses of the Pakistani drama industry. Lately, however, the dramas produced by Big Bang Entertainment are being criticized for the kind of content they have been serving.
The two on-air dramas produced by Big Bang are Jalan and Nand. The conversation around Jalan is never-ending. From the show’s premise hinging on an illicit affair between a girl and her brother-in-law, to the ban that was put on the drama, and the recent development of showing a character being burnt to death; there is hardly anything positive and uplifting in the drama. Nand is yet another addition to the never-ending list of dramas that revolve around the torturous in-laws of a poor, innocent, young woman.
The production house’s previous dramas include Ishqiya (had a plot point of a guy harassing his sister-in-law as revenge), Bewafa (extramarital affair), Hasad (a woman tormenting her sister-in-law because of her jealousy), and Cheekh (criticized for its female protagonist being deprived of any form of happiness). And these are titles excluding the daily soaps Big Bang Entertainment produces. There is clearly a pattern of Big Bang Entertainment dramas where misery, particularly female misery, takes the center stage. And we can’t help but wonder why?
A quick look at the official social media handles of Big Bang Entertainment will show that the production house proudly celebrates the high ratings its produced dramas fetch. While it is well within the production house’s rights to proudly display how successful their dramas are within the audience, the angle of responsible content making cannot be ignored. Pakistani dramas get criticized more and more each passing day for the content they are serving, even by the country’s own government, and if the production houses pay no heed to that criticism then we clearly have a problem at hand.
It has come to a point where fans of Pakistani dramas feel resigned to the fact that a drama produced by Big Bang Entertainment will either be full of misery or will end on an unhappy note. Cheekh, Balaa, and Ishqiya are the recent examples that are served as proof for this observation. And Fahad Mustafa is named as the biggest culprit for it. Granted that Fahad Mustafa is not the sole producer and Big Bang Entertainment dramas are co-produced by him and Dr. Ali Kazmi. But Fahad is the superstar, it is his association with these dramas that send out the wrong impression.
Because Fahad Mustafa as an actor continues to do films that are both entertaining and have empowering themes in them. Actor In Law, Load Wedding, and the upcoming film Quaid-e-Azam Zindabad all have strong roles for its female protagonists. Fahad might be the hero of all these films but his heroines are women of substance that are not merely present to face all kinds of miserable situations life throws at them. Something that happens a lot in the dramas Fahad Mustafa produces. One can’t help but question: would Fahad Mustafa himself agree to act in the dramas that he has been producing lately?
As the conversation about the quality of content served in Pakistani drama serials gains traction, the audience is now getting more critical. Fahad Mustafa has proven that he has an eye for choosing quality scripts that are both entertaining for the viewers while having the the necessary element of being thought provoking. And if Fahad the actor can continue to choose such projects for himself, it is not wrong for the audience to expect Fahad the producer to show the same attention to quality storytelling in the dramas he produces.