Pemra doesn’t really appreciate the portrayal of strong women characters in Pakistani dramas.
While we female writers, director and actors are trying hard to educate our women on their rights and encourage options to empower them, Pemra sends notices saying the character is too ‘bold’ for the Pakistani audience, said actor-turned-director Angeline Malik during a session at the Adab Festival 2020 on the portrayal of women in Pakistani films and dramas.
Giving an example of Kitni Girhain Baaki Hain, a drama she produced on stories that highlight the status of women within a patriarchal society and bring out the lesser-known facets of the lives and emotions of various women across ages and classes, Malik said that the notices from Pemra continued until the drama was halted.
“Pemra used to threaten us that they will halt the drama serial if we keep on showing strong and bold characters of women,” she said.
We need to educate our audience by giving them alternative stories, however, the only answer we get is that our audience doesn’t need such storylines, said the award-winning Pakistani screenwriter, director and writer of Kitni Girhain Baaki Hain Bee Gul during the session.
“I kept getting notices from Pemra for my drama serial Dar Si Jati Hai Sila until the sixth episode when Zainab’s rape case was reported,” said Gul. The drama raised the curtain on sexual and mental harassment by family members.
Gul added that the only time a drama doesn’t get notices from Pemra is when the target rating points are high. “Unfortunately, sexual abuse is only seen on screen if it is portrayed sensationally in our dramas,” she said. “All we need is for channels and the audience to encourage all kinds of conversations on screen rather being uncomfortable.”
Adding to the conversation, former PTV managing director Ra’ana Shaikh said “Meaningful stories are disappearing from Pakistani dramas just like short-haired heroines.” She added the Pakistani drama industry is in a hopeless state as the only thing demanded of a woman protagonist is to look pretty on screen.
Closing the session, drama writer Haseena Moin said dramas are closest to the audience and should be crafted with responsibility, not just for TRPs and money.