“Showing romance on screen is all in the timing."
Famous Pakistani dramas have had had a positive impact on peoples lives since the inception of broadcast television post-partition.
Over the years, the Pakistan drama industry has produced diverse thought-provoking stories and innovative characters for TV.
Pakistan Television Corporation (PTV) was instrumental in creating some of the most iconic dramas from the golden period – 70s right through to the millennium.
The classic Pakistani dramas which did break into our rooms will absolutely give you a breath of freshness. Many of these dramas have been aired time, time and again across the globe due to popular public demand.
The advent of satellite and technology saw the emergence of private television networks also producing their in-house fantastic dramas that aired across their entertainment channels.
Here is a list of 15 groundbreaking Pakistani dramas, which put the country on the world map of entertainment:
A PTV creation, Waris depicts a realistic picture of the country.
It revolves around a feudal family, who struggle to maintain their assets. The inner tussles of the family eventually become the reason for their downfall.
Late Mehboob Alam who plays the leading role of Chaudary Hashmat dominates a specific territory with his son and grandsons.
Originally, Waris went on air during the martial law time of General Zia-Ul-Haq. After that, it was on-screen many times during the nineties..
Eminent poet Amjad Islam Amjad was the writer of the drama, with direction coming from Ghazanfer Ali and Nusrat Thakur.
This thirteen episode drama was so popular that the streets went quiet, with everyone watching it on television.
Big actors featuring in this drama include Abid Ali (Dilawar), Uzma Gilani (Zakiya) and Munawwar Saeed (Chaudhary Yakub).
Ankahi is an unforgettable drama serial of PTV that went on air in 1982.
Pakistani dramatist Hasina Moin is the writer of the Ankahi, with Shoaib Mansoor and Mohsin Ali taking responsibility of direction.
Ankahi did receive cult status, due to strong dialogues, along with the humourous and frank role of Sana Murad (Shehnaz Sheikh).
Sana has some really hilarious scenes with Shakeel who also plays the leading character of Taimoor.
The cast includes Javed Sheikh (Faraz), Badar Khalil (Zakiya), Behroz Sabzwri (Moby), Jamshed Ansari (Timmy) and late Qazi Wajid (Siddiqui).
The story reflects unfulfilling desires, with so many emotions along the way.
PTV has shown Ankahi many times over the years. The Bollywood film Chal Mere Bhai (2000) has taken inspiration from the drama Ankahi.
Sona Chandi (1983)
Sona Chandi is an iconic comedy-drama by PTV that came out in 1983. The story represents the struggles of a couple who travel to the city in search of work.
TV actor Hamid Rana from Arifwala plays the role of Sona. While Sheeba Arshad performs the character of his wife Chandi.
The innocent and simple couple begin various chores in different homes, along with assisting many people in their personal matters.
In fact, the inspiration for making this drama was a real story of a couple from Bhakkar District, Punjab.
Late Munnu Bhai met the real Sona and wrote the script of this drama under the direction of Rashid Dar.
Other prominent actors in the drama include Late Ghayyur Akhtar (Bhai Hameed), Ayub Khan (Mamma Yaqoob), Tashqeen (Baji Rukhsana) and Munir Zarif (Chacha Karmoo).
Hameed Bhai became famous for his dialogue ‘Oh Ho Ho Ho.’
Andhera Ujala (1984)
During 1984-1985, writer Younis Javed came up with the wonderful character of Havaldar Karam Dad (Constable Irfan Khoosat) for the PTV play Andhera Ujala.
The drama Andhera Ujala was a popular Pakistani serial, showing how the police fighting against crime under humorous and serious conditions.
The investigation series did portray issues, which we often see in our surroundings.
Besides Khoosat, the main cast includes late Jamil Fakhri (Jaffar Hussain) and DIG (Qavi Khan). Everyone became very familiar with the famous dialogue by Khoosat:
“Oue Chun Mahi, Direct Hawaldar Hoon, Dah (10) Jamaat Pass Hoon, Koi Mazak Nahi Hoon Main.”
Hasina Moin is the writer for the classic drama Tanhaiyaan with Shezad Khalil taking on the directors boots.
The key cast of the drama includes Shehnaz Sheikh (Zara), Marina Khan (Sanya), Badar Khalil (Aani), Asif Raza Mir (Zain), Behroz Sabzwari (Qabacha), Qazi Wajid (Faran), Jamshed Ansari (Buqrat) and late Azra Sherwani (Aapa Begum).
The story revolves around two sisters Zara and Sanya who start living with their aunt (Aani) after the death of their parents in an accident.
Troubles start when they buy back their parents home. There are also some love stories amongst some of the characters.
Tanhaiyaan has run many times on PTV and other channels as well.
Sanya and Faran teasing Qabacha area treat to watch in the drama.
The sequel of this drama Tanhaiyaan Naye Silsilay was made in 2012, with PTV and ARY Zindagi airing it on their respective channels.
Dhoop Kinare (1987)
A Hasina Moin creation, Dhoop Kinare was a PTV presentation from 1987. A direction of Sahira Kazmi this is a romantic hospital series from the golden age of Pakistani dramas.
The story is about a team of doctors, particularly their routine at the workplace and at their homes.
Rahat Kazmi (Dr Ahmer Ansari) and Marina Khan (Dr Zoya Ali Khan) play the lead roles in the drama.
Arshad Mehmood (Ahmer’s father), Qazi Wajid (Baba), Sajid Hasan (Dr Irfan), Badar Khalil (Dr Sheena Karamat) and late Azra Sherwani (Fazeelat Bibi) are important supporting actors in the drama.
Fans may still remember Dr Zoya’s short hair and carefree attitude. The drama has a beautiful ending to it.
The drama became very popular in Pakistan and India for its strong direction and dialogues.
Marvi is a famous PTV drama that first went on air in 1993. The script of this play by Noor Ul Huda Shah was a contemporary adaptation of the Sindhi folktale ‘Umar Marvi.’
The three main actors include Ghazal Siddique (Marvi), Mahnoor Baloch (Laila), late Hassam Qazi (Umer) and Qaiser Khan Nizamani (Akbar Ali).
The drama revolves around Marvi who is very ambitious and passionate, hoping to enhance the livelihood of her people in a village.
However, she faces a lot of hardships in a quest to helping her fellow villagers. Despite local traditions not allowing a woman to receive a higher education, she becomes an exception.
Marvi presents the reality of Sindhi culture where there is male domination in the rural parts of society.
Marvi comes under heavy criticism for her working approach to promote women rights as the feudal elite from the province eventually kidnap her.
But in the end, Marvi wins over the evil. Marvi has a good friend in Laila as Umer finally comes to his senses.
Aanch was a unique Pakistani drama from its time. Naheed Sultan Akhtar was the writer of the drama, with Tariq Jameel directing it.
The story portrays how a step-mother tries to build a relationship with her step-children.
But as things do not go as smooth, it causes tension between husband and wife, leading to a tense court case.
The drama shows how perseverance, patience and love from a strong woman eventually earns a place in the hearts of her step-children.
The main actors in this popular drama include Shafi Muhammad Shah (Late), Shagufta Ejaz, Farheen Nafees and Sami Sani.
Alpha Bravo Charlie (1998)
Alpha Bravo Charlie is an action drama thriller, which showcased a sense of devotion on screen for Pakistan as a nation.
The story of this play highlights patriotism, romance and courageous achievements.
The famous showman Shoaib Mansoor once again proved his attributes as director. The PTV drama had real-life army personnel tasting their first experience of acting.
The story is based on the lives of three main characters known as Alpha (Faraz Inam: Captain Faraz Ahmed ), Bravo (Abdullah Mahmood: Captain Kashif Kirmani) and Charlie (Colonel Retired Qasim Khan: Captain Gulsher Khan).
The three energetic youngsters want to serve in the Pakistan army.
Under the production of ISPR (Inter-Servies Public Relations, this drama showcases the involvement of Pakistan in different warfare operations, especially in the Bosnian War and Siachen conflict.
Along with action, this drama also has some of the best romantic and comedy scenes portrayed by all three friends.
Jinnah Se Quaid-E-Azam (2006)
Jinnah Se Qaid-E-Azam is a PTV docu-drama serial, which reflects on the struggle of Quaid-E-Azam, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, leading to the partition of India.
A direction of Mohsin Ali, the drama did feature newcomers at the time.
Shehryar Jahangir who is the first cousin of Late Junaid Jamshed plays the role of Mohammed Ali Jinnah so perfectly.
Shehryar’s dialogue delivery is meticulous, with a very intellect tone.
Zainab Ansari is the narrator of the drama and also portrays the older Fatima Jinnah.
The drama is not technically advance. Nevertheless, it is an amazing treat to watch and the clothing match the times from pre and post-partition of India.
Dastaan by Hum TV is an epic story of love among the nation and its people. It is a TV adaptation from the famous Urdu novel Bano (1971) by Razia Butt.
The script was written by Pakistani author Samira Fazal.
The drama is based on the time before the partition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hence, the struggles and atrocities of partition, along with romance during the migration are shown in this dramatised version.
Hassam Hussain the talented director of the award-winning serial Dastaan says:
“Showing romance on screen is all in the timing. “The measuring of looks, space, texture, light, the silence, the right words at the right time.
“All measured and timed to perfection.”
The main roles were played by Fawad Khan (Hassan), Sanam Baloch Bano), Ahsan Khan (Saleem) and Saba Qamar (Suraiya).
Dolly Ki Aayegi Barat (2010)
Dolly Ki Aayegi Baraat was the second in a baraat drama series. Marina Khan and Nadeem Beyg are the directors of this comedy classic.
The drama focuses on the wedding of Dolly Memon (Natasha Ali) with Mushtaq ‘Takkay’ (Ali Safina). However, as things pan out Dolly goes onto become the wife of Nabeel Burger Boy’ (Raheel Butt).
The drama series has a mix of light and serious moments. The drama boasts a high pedigree of famous actors.
Most of the characters became an instant success with the audience. These include Saima Chaudhary (Bushra Ansari), Faraz Ahmed (Javed Sheikh) and Rabia Ahmed (Saba Hameed).
Most of the actors kept recurring throughout every series that was aired on GEO Television.
“Some things are so pure and simple that they outshine everything else,” sums up the Hum TV drama Humsafar.
Director Sarmad Khoosat, son of Irfan Khoosat and writer Farhat Ishtiaq present a map of the heart, revolving two people who have the deepest feelings for each other.
As one the most applauded drama ever on Pakistan television, Humsafar displays the core themes of jealousy, romance, forgiveness and despair.
The story shows the trials and tribulations of a couple, Ashar Hussain (Fawad Khan) and Khirad Ashar Hussain (Mahira Khan).
This drama gave the careers of Fawad and Mahira a real boost.
Naveen Waqar (Sara Ajmal), Atiqa Odho (Farida Hussain) and Behroze Sabzwari (Baseerat Hussain) are a few other actors to name.
The title song from the Original Sound Track (OST) by Quratulain Baloch makes the case even stronger for capturing audience imagination.
Zindagi Gulzar Hai (2012)
Zindagi Gulzar Hai is also an adaptation from the namesake novel by Umera Ahmed for TV.
Audiences got to watch the drama via the platform of Hum TV. Sultana Siddiqui was the director, with Momaina Duraid producing it.
The story of this epic drama is about two families with opposing thoughts and different financial statuses.
Firstly there is Kashaf (Sanam Saeed), a simple but mature girl. Kashaf’s father does not live with the family because her mother gave birth to daughters only.
Then Zaroon Junaid (Fawad Khan) who belongs to a rich and modern family comes into her life. But will Kashaf’s personality and doubts about men become a hurdle in her path to happiness?
This famous Pakistani drama was broadcast across many parts of the world. This drama bagged many accolades at the 2014 Hum Awards and Lux Style Awards.
Udaari highlights the sexual abuse against children within rural areas of Pakistan. It was transmitted on Hum TV under the production of Momina Duraid in association with Kashf Foundation.
The drama follows a family from a rural area, particularly a young girl, Meera Majid (Urwa Hocane), who becomes a successful singer after she is dumped by her boyfriend.
The story also shows the life of Sajida Bibi (Samiya Mumtaz who marries Imtiaz Alin Sheikh (Ahsan Ali Khan) to find shelter. However, Imtiaz abuses Sajjo and her daughter.
The other key cast members include Bushra Ansari (Rasheeda Bibi) and Farhan Saeed (Taimoor Arshad).
Udaari delivers a sensitive but important message about the desires of a sexual exploiter.
Sadaf Haider praised the drama when writing for Dawn News:
“Udaari reads like a brightly colored map of Pakistani society today.
“Divisions of class and wealth are amply illustrated but so are everyday human interactions.”
Famous Pakistani dramas are engaging due to their genuine and honest screenplay.
The story, characters, acting and physical appearance make them realistic and entertaining. Most of these dramas are available on YouTube and other sites.
Many other top Pakistani dramas that did not make our list but are still worth watching include Alif Noon (1965), Uncle Urfi (1972), Guest House (1991) and Dhuwan (1994).
With dramas being the jewel in the crown for Pakistan entertainment, fans can expect many more enthralling serials in the future.