Tune into any Pakistani entertainment channel and you will see a close up of a woman crying her eyes out over some grave injustice done to her. Whether it’s a love breaking her heart, or cruelty from in laws, the woman is seen talking to herself out loud, flashing back to when things were blissfully happy.
Don’t get me wrong. Pakistani dramas are watched all over the world and are praised for the various issues they portray. But I am going to come out and say, compared to the brilliance Pakistan produced two decades earlier, these dramas aren’t worth much.
As a part of an assignment recently we were told to watch old Pakistani dramas, 1970 onwards to 1990. With masterpieces already picked by classmates, I settled for a drama series called ‘Amawas’. Aired in late 1987 the series was written by Ahmad Salim and directed by Iqbal Ansari.
Simply put, the drama that came out 25 years ago is more relevant to today’s society than most of the stuff churned out to be viewed by millions.
The central idea behind the drama revolves around a poor family that tries their best to live respectably in an expensive society. Battling various problems, every member of the family, consisting of the parents and three daughters, deals with difficult situations in their own way. While the mother usually complains about the problems, the husband tries to come up with solutions so that he can support them. Up for retirement and suffering from poor health he cannot do much but still to his best efforts manages to earn enough to feed the family. The daughters, in their own way react to the challenges of society. Being educated enough, they try to think out the situations before acting out on them.
The eldest daughter Massarat played by Bushra Ansari, is a very complex woman who spends her life living for others. Her mother’s constant worries of getting her married lands her in a difficult position when her mother decides that she is to be married to a man who earns well but is uneducated. For the mother earning well is better than being educated. And because Massarat does not have a fair complexion, the mother thinks this proposal is the best she can find.
In the meanwhile a young engineer named Nawab (Asif Raza Mir) falls in love with Massarat and eventually the two get married. For a brief period both are very happy, however soon a tragedy befalls Massarat and she is forced to leave her husband. After the relationship falls apart, Nawab tries his best to reconcile but Massarat refuses to compromise opting to live on her own and finding a job to support herself. In the end she also manages to attain her freedom and be the person she hopes to be.
The storyline was very strong. Massarat once evolved appears to be a strong feminist who refuses to compromise and chooses to fight for her rights. The entire concept of women empowerment and educated women getting good jobs back in the 1980s is heartwarming. Though there were some weak moments, however they were outnumbered by the good.
The common symbols representing women were also seen here. A two plaited Massarat going to college is soon replaced by a single plaited Massarat who is married. Then the narrow minded attitude of the mother is also extremely exaggerated. The father being completely under the thumb of an overbearing woman is also hard to swallow.
Perhaps the saddest character in the play is that of Nawab whose personality gradually declines. From a very kind hearted man, he becomes a savage blinded by hatred. Nawab in the beginning is seen chasing Massarat on his motorcycle as she goes to college. Finding an opportunity he throws his letter on her and quickly dashes away. Why such a sensible woman chooses to keep a letter by a man who she thinks is a rogue following her every day is a mystery.
All in all the drama manages to finish off with a satisfactory result with Massarat getting what she deserves out of her life finally.
Complete cast: Bushra Ansari, Asif Raza Mir, Subhani Ba Younus, Zaheen Tahira, Zeenat Yasmeen, Khalida Parveen, Sohail Malik and Sultan Khan.
P.S That reminds me the well renowned play ‘Aagan Tera’ by Anwar Maqsood will soon be played live at Arts Council. Book your tickets. You simply cannot miss it. For details visit the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/KopyKatsProductions