Pakistani television continues to thrive and reach new heights of success. There is no better proof of this statement than the year 2020. When almost the entire entertainment industry of the country had to temporarily stop functioning as they did their best to effectively adapt to the “new normal”, Pakistani dramas continued to entertain the audiences with new content.
This durable functionality of the Pakistani television industry even during a global pandemic has once again put the focus back on this industry as being the safest representation of Pakistani entertainment as a whole. TV is where the work, and the subsequent fame and safety it brings, truly lies. Perhaps this is why some of the biggest names in the Pakistani entertainment industry who had seemingly graduated from the small screen to the big, are now looking to come back to work on TV.
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that Pakistani television has showcased its reliability through the past few years, not that it needed to present any significant proof of its position as the reigning branch of the Pakistani entertainment industry. However, considering the upward trending graph of views and ratings that Pakistani dramas have been generating in the past couple of years alongside the critical success and the quantifiable data that backs up the claim, the wise ones realise where exactly the real power of the Pakistani entertainment industry actually lies.
Who’s coming back
For example, Mahira Khan. The “superstar” of the industry who hasn’t done a drama ever since Bin Roye back in 2016; although one can argue that since Bin Roye was a film turned into a drama her last actual drama is Sadqay Tumhare which aired in 2014, recently confessed at Hum TV’s 16th Anniversary Celebrations that she was ready to come back to dramas. For someone like Mahira Khan who has been doing back-to-back films for the past five years, this is both a surprising and yet the most obvious decision to make. No one really knows when the film industry will be fully functioning again. In the meantime, television isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it just continues to get bigger and bigger. Why wouldn’t Mahira Khan want to come back to the medium that shot her to fame in the first place?
Another example is Humayun Saeed who plans on acting in two dramas this year. Granted Humayun has managed to squeeze in dramas as he delivered one blockbuster movie after another. But for Humayun, films were a priority as he tried to release one major Eid blockbuster every year. This is the first time Humayun plans on concentrating more on dramas in the year instead of jumping from one film set to another. Considering the kind of rage that Humayun’s last drama Mere Paas Tum Ho was, this decision doesn’t come as a surprise.
Sheheryar Munawar and Maya Ali have also been absent from television screens for the past few years and are now back as leading roles in the drama serial Pehli Si Muhabbat which has already started airing on ARY Digital. The drama has received generally decent to positive reviews. Interestingly, Pehli Si Muhabbat’s director of photography is Shayan Latif, the man who has been the camera operator for the yet-unreleased and highly anticipated Bilal Lashari directorial The Legend of Maula Jatt. So, it’s not just the actors making their way back to television but the behind-the-scenes crew as well. A rumor about Fawad Khan coming back on television in a drama also floated around some time back. Nothing of that was ever confirmed but in case if it does come true, don’t be surprised.
Trending plots and OST’s
Pakistani drama soundtracks have been faring better than most original music being made in the country. Weekly trends on social media and Youtube are dominated by episodes of Pakistani dramas. The audience loves watching dramas; they love having detailed discussions on the dramas and actually building up a possible outcome of the story in their heads. The popularity of drama reviewing shows like Amma TV Aur Mein only goes on to prove that Pakistani dramas have enough content in them to warrant proper discussions and in the world of the entertainment industry, one is only as popular as the amount of conversation they are generating.
The currently reigning and the rising stars of the industry have all gained the majority of their fame and popularity from doing dramas only. Take Yumna Zaidi’s example. Being generally considered as the most talented out of the recent and active actors, Yumna has not done a single film yet. But that doesn’t seem to matter considering how in-demand and loved Yumna is by the Pakistani audience. Her dramas alone have given her enough credibility and popularity to secure her position in the industry. The same can be said for Imran Ashraf whose debut film might or might not release this year but his dramas continue to dominate and keep him at the top of the heap.
TV over films
Times have changed. A few years back Pakistani television seemed like a stepping stone for aspiring stars to get into movies. Remember the time when every other television actor was busy signing film projects and happily announcing them only for the said projects to never materialise? Now, television in Pakistan has turned the tables. Who can forget the way audiences flocked to the cinema screens to watch Mere Paas Tum Ho’s finale on the big screen? This immense power of Pakistani dramas; this power to dictate the medium on which they will air is very attractive. Spotlights tend to not stay on one person for long if they don’t give the audience new content to safely watch. Why would our A-listers continue to pass on television projects and risk losing their popularity and maybe even relevance?
Big writers, big directors, big producers, and big actors – they are all making their way back to television which started the global popularity of the Pakistani entertainment industry in the 21st century. And it continues to be the most favoured medium of the global audience for consuming Pakistani content. Actors that solely stuck to dramas have become stars in their own right as the dramas they do rake in views in millions on weekly basis. The steadfastly growing drama reviewing channels on the internet is giving the drama actors, directors, and writers the attention they hadn’t previously received. New stories are being explored. Better characters are being written. Career defining performances are all happening in Pakistani dramas. Stardom hasn’t left television. In fact, it has latched itself more securely here than ever. It is an even playing field for everyone around here.
Our movie stars who had really gotten too big for the small screen have realised this as well. The smart ones will make their return to television sooner than later. And the ones who miss out? Well, we hope this can serve as a reminder for them that the game has now changed and unless they adapt to the changes in the industry and audience, they might just find themselves being pushed back to the shadows.