We live in an age of mass media where electronic media in particular has vast reach and viewership. This reach gives it a unique power over the minds and thoughts of its audience. However, in Pakistan the major focus of electronic media is in the sphere of news and current affairs. There is a lot less focus on drama and entertainment, even though it is an established fact that people are more fascinated by storytelling. Einstein once said, “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” Pop culture has always been a big influencer when it comes to formation and transformation of ideas and values: from times when oral folk lore was used to shape minds and formulate value systems, to the world of today, where there is a glut of oral, written and visual content. Hence, we need to divert this skewed focus back to where it should be, i.e., shaping contexts through imagination.
In this context, dramas like Aangan and Daastan can have immense impact in educating the youth about their history and the struggles that went into making of Pakistan, and instilling a sense of pride in their heritage. These dramas portrayed strong women who realized that they had a much bigger role to play outside of their homes, in times that were not conducive to such activism. This is a direct message to the women of today that they need to respond to the times, when and however needed.
A traumatized Bano’s (Sanam Baloch) hysterical screams, “Main nay Basantay ko mar dala … main nay is sarzameen ko paak kardiya Hassan … ,” summed up the entire struggle our progenitors faced during and after the Pakistan Movement. For example, drama serial Dastaan is a tale of affection, misfortune and the horrendous unfurling of the events that took place at the time of partition of the Indian subcontinent. The storyline of Dastaan depicts the relationship of Bano with her country along with innumerable convincing accounts of strife our ancestors faced in those violent times that marred the euphoria of freedom along with how we, as a nation, lost focus. The serial held the audience captivated without trying too hard; rather it shook them to the core, leaving the viewers on their toes, pondering on what we have done to deserve such an extraordinary country.
These dramas depict the enchantment of bona fide desi culture with people in sherwanis and ghararas, taking us back to an era, which was radiant, colorful and traditional, reminding viewers of our rich cultural heritage. Television in Pakistan is no stranger to period, pre- and post-segment dramatization where viewers experience simpler times with the same old complex love and hate-stricken quandaries. Period dramatizations like, Aangan and Dastaan, however, give a truly relatable viewpoint to the viewers, taking them on a voyage back in time, experiencing lives of our precursors and connecting them to the times we live in.
The generalized and popularized idea is that the women living in the subcontinent before partition, were neither courageous nor very vocal. Aangan and Dastaan offer a counter-narrative of strong female characters who faced men in their homes to declare devotion to the Muslim League. Suraiyyah of Dastaan, for example, gave her adornments to Muslim League subsequent to going up against her hard-lined spouse who was already conflicted by Bano's support of Jinnah. Be that as it may, the two ladies never for once second guessed their trust in the Movement and proceeded to exercise their influence as active political workers.
Contrary to this, practically all the significant soaps on television today have a defenseless and lonesome female character alongside lousy spouses. The screen is powerful tool that can rouse ladies to empower themselves as opposed to mentoring them about going through their time on earth as desolate wards. Dastaan could have ended with the death of Basanty Singh (Babrik Shah), yet as I see it, it was exceptionally fundamental to give a depiction of Pakistan post-independence and to give the audience an inside look of where things went wrong.
As pop culture has a very significant role in shaping the minds of our youth and in moulding their perceptions about pride in their national identity, it becomes all the more important for the entertainment industry to step up to the plate and carry out their responsibilities conscientiously. Curiously enough, the subjects covered in period dramas are at the core of most television serials nowadays. Dramas today have made a reality and cultural transformation. The families on the many shows may be exaggerations of reality, yet they do stay relatable to a degree despite the fact that the delineation may amplify hair-raising content, and include overwhelming characters and irrelevant dramatization. Nonetheless, they keep on holding influence over a lion's share of viewers who watch such shows as they may have acknowledged the new ordinary in a dynamic socio-cultural setting. HH
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