Pakistani dramas have become extremely popular both within the nation and in other countries such as India, the US, Europe, etc.. A stark contrast from Indian dramas, they are realistic, engaging, and they tackle important topics. Indian dramas have their own charm, of course, and I thoroughly enjoy them. They are fun, dramatic, and always a great break from reality. However, Pakistani dramas have proven themselves to be a very different genre. The beautiful use of the Urdu language along with the realistic portrayals of everyday life have helped Pakistani dramas carve their own niche in the entertainment industry. Having watched Pakistani dramas for many years, there are quite a few I would highly recommend. There are others apart from the dramas on this list, but these are some of my all-time favorites. So without further ado, allow me to talk to you about some of my favorite Pakistani dramas!
Dastaan (داستان) (June 24th, 2010 - December 4th, 2010)
Despite being a relatively unemotional person, I must admit this was one of those dramas that brought me to my knees emotionally. Set in the backdrop of partition, this drama (based on the novel Bano by Razia Butt) revolves around the emotional turmoil that is experienced by a Muslim family before and after partition, particularly by the two main protagonists, Bano (played by Sanam Baloch) and Hassan (played by Fawad Khan). Bano and Hassan are two lovers who are separated after partition. This drama makes us feel the pain and emotion that people underwent during the horrors of partition, and makes us question the very foundation for which India was divided. I particularly loved the beautiful use of Urdu in this drama; it was definitely one of the best scripts that Samira Fazal has written. It is this type of language that makes us appreciate Urdu even more. I also loved the adab (gesture and respect) and tehzeeb (etiquette) that this drama showed (not to mention the beautiful dresses!). Bano shows us that love is forever, and that when you make a commitment, you commit your entire self regardless of the consequences. Saba Qamar player her role as Suraiya Khala with grace and eloquence, again proving her talent for playing any character and making us feel connected to it. Mehreen Raheel, who played the role of Rabia, proved her strength as an actress, especially since such a role could not have been easy, when Hassan was still in love with Bano, and she made us really fall in love with her character.
Samina Pirzada, Qavi Khan, Saba Hameed, and all other cast played their characters with intensity and grace. This drama is a must watch for anyone who is interested in our history and the emotional turmoil that our families went through. It is extremely deep and soul-stirring, making you question the very reason for why we are where we are because of our history.
Some quotes from the drama:
“Aasmaanon se utaara noor hai koi, aisa lagta hai kay hoor hai koi”
“Kuch bhi karo…main kissi ki ghar nahi jaoonga.”
“Chahe tumse woh kitne kyun na pyaar karta, phir bhi?”
“Iss watan ke zarray zarray mein qurbani ki Dastaan likhi hui hai”
“Bano tum sach mein aasmanoo say utaranoor ho koi…Bano tum humari qaum ki ghairat thee, aur humnay tumharay sath kya kiya… Ye dua haimeri Rab say kay hum sab ko aap kai jaisi watan ki mohobat aur us kay liye mar mitnay ka jasba ata karay! Ameen.”
Mera Naseeb (ميرا نصيب) (April 1st, 2011 - August 26th, 2011)
This is an engaging story about two girls, Nazia and Shazia (respectively played by Syra Yousuf and Sanam Saeed), who are raised as sisters but are very different in both appearance and nature, which affects their future significantly. This drama has no shortage of beautiful screenplay by a star-studded cast and dialogues by Samira Fazal. This story shows us the value of family, and also of how to remain strong when life throws us the most difficult of hurdles. Each sister faces her own separate turmoil and admirably deals with it in the face of adversity, thus taking charge of their own future. Bushra Ansari, plays Nazia’s evil mother-in-law with ease, and Imran Abbas, who plays Shazia’s husband, Moiz, does justice to what is initially an extremely antagonistic character. Adeel Hussain, who plays Nazia’s lover, Shahbaz, makes a significant impact on the nature of his character (and has made me have somewhat of a soft spot for him!). Imran Aslam, who plays Nazia’s husband, Fahad, does justice in the role of a husband torn between the needs of his wife and his mother. Samina Pirzada plays the overdramatic and somewhat arrogant mother of Nazia with skill and ease (another testament to Samina Pirzada’s acting talent!). Rubina Ashraf, Sakina Sammo, and Sajid Hassan all play their supporting roles very well, making the story extremely engaging and enjoyable. This is one of those dramas that really makes you think about the role of fate and how much control you have the hurdles that life throws at you.
Maat (مات) (September 9th, 2011 - February 24th, 2012)
Written by Umera Ahmed who also wrote the Urdu novel the drama is based on, this story centers around two sisters who couldn't be more different, one who is extremely selfish and materialistic while the other has a more altruistic perspective on life and truly believes in appreciating what we have. What I loved about this drama was how it showed the ultimate consequences of what happens when you allow selfishness and ego to overcome your senses. Human beings are not perfect, but there is a difference between that and going out of your way to betray your family for self-interest. In my opinion, Aamina Sheikh did one of her best performances and Saba Qamar proved her versatility and talent as an actress yet again. I must say, I always enjoy watching Shamim Hilaly on screen, for her flawless Urdu and of course for her effortless acting. Adnan Siddiqui also outdid himself in showing the result of not appreciating what you have. Materialism and selfishness, along with extreme altruism and sacrifice are all prevalent themes in this gem of a serial. The dialogue, screenplay, and concept have been brilliantly portrayed by a very talented cast and crew, and is a must watch!
Humsafar (ہم سفر,) (September 24th, 2011 - March 3rd, 2012)
Based on the Urdu novel of the same name written by Farhat Ishtiaq, Humsafar has been hailed by many as the savior and revival of the Pakistani drama industry. This story revolves around a married couple who get off to a rocky start, only to face significant trials and turbulences once all seems well. What I loved about this drama was the pure simplicity and strength of the characters such as Khirad, and of course the wonderful use of the Urdu language by Farhat Ishtiaq. Fawad Khan outdid himself with his expressions and dialogue delivery, especially with his talent for expressing unsaid thoughts just through his eyes and his demeanor. Mahira Khan rose to fame overnight with her acting prowess and Naveen Waqar became legendary for her portrayal as the antagonist. Mahira Khan’s portrayal of Khirad showed a woman who was strong, and had to learn to be so the hard way. But she is also in pain, which she does an excellent job at hiding. The title song, which can never be forgotten due to its catchy melody and beautiful lyrics, was sung by Qurut-ul-Ain Balouch. This drama is an absolute masterpiece!
Sadqay Tumhare (صدقے تمہارے) (October 10th, 2014 - April 10th 2015)
Supposedly based on the real-life story of writer Khalil-Ur-Rehman Qamar, this story takes place in rural Punjab in the 1980s. It shows two young lovers, Shano (played by Mahira Khan) and Khalil (played by Adnan Malik), who were promised to each other for marriage at a young age, but Shano’s mother has another agenda, which involves revenge and hatred, which will try to interfere in Shano and Khalil’s path. Truth be told, the idea in this story is nothing new, but the screenplay, dialogues, and overall execution are incredible. Whenever I see one of Khalil-Ur-Rehman Qamar’s dramas, I wonder if it is possible for him to outdo himself with his use of pure Urdu in his dialogues, and he has not yet failed to blow me away. He uses the beauty of our language with such elegance, it is hard not to be moved even by the simplest of dialogues. When I first started watching this drama, I admired Shano for her simplicity and her strong faith in Khalil and also for her innocent yet resolute love for him. But as the serial progressed, I saw that that innocence was reinforced by intense strength and courage. To be so understanding to her mother, Rashida (played by Samiya Mumtaz), who was intent on revenge even if it came at the cost of her own daughter’s happiness and well-being is not easy. Adnan Malik, who made his acting debut in this serial, proved his aptitude for playing a hot-headed character like Khalil but with the gentle touch. I must say, I’m not sure it is possible for me to admire Qavi Khan, who played the Maulvi Sahab, more than I do. He plays his role with a gentle aged wisdom, the type that many spend their whole life searching for but never find. Rehan Sheikh, who plays Shano’s father, shows us the fate of a helpless man twisted around by a woman intent on revenge at any cost. Farhan Ali Agha, who plays Khalil’s father, shows his character as a level-headed man. Sania Shamshad, who plays Humaira, shows us just how much loyalty we have for our friends, and how if we’re not careful even the most loyal people can stray. Shamil Khan, who plays Khalil’s friend and cousin, Dr. Maqsood, shows us how our very best friends can be our conscience and our guides. This drama also had beautiful music, with the title song being sung by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. The background music also moulded nicely with the scenes and dialogue, so much so that the music alone was often enough to stir our emotions. This drama might be dramatic, it might be old-school, but it teaches us about courage and love in the face of adversity. Definitely one of my favorites!
Alvida (الوداع) (February 11th, 2015 - June 24th 2015)
This drama was definitely a guilty pleasure for me. Starring Imran Abbas, Sanam Jung, Naveen Waqar, Sarah Khan, and Zahid Ahmed, this drama centers around two protagonists who, by twists of fate and circumstances, cannot be together. Haya (played by Sanam Jung), a rather loud and dramatic girl, has grown up with Haadi (played by Imran Abbas) and harbors a crush on him. Haadi, however, does not recognize her feelings and instead marries her older sister, Uroosa (played by Naveen Waqar). The story has many twists and turns and was beautifully shown as a journey for each character to discover who they really were and how to come to terms with it. Zahid Ahmed, who gained popularity after his role in Mehram, stunned everyone with his portrayal of Ramiz, and his popularity increased ten-fold! He has proven himself to be a very able and versatile actor. The title song was sung by Shafqat Amanat Ali, and it is incredibly hard to get out of your head, it is that engaging! Imran Abbas and Sanam Jung are beautiful on screen together, and this is definitely one of my favorite dramas of theirs. I could watch it over and over again!
Mera Naam Yousuf Hai (میرا نام یوسف ہے) (March 6th, 2015 - July 17th, 2015)
I must admit, before this drama I was not a huge fan of Maya Ali but her performance as the main protagonist here was outstanding. Writer Khalil Ur-Rehman Qamar truly outdid himself with beautiful dialogues containing some truly flawless Urdu. What I loved about this drama apart from Imran Abbas’s role as the love-struck hero was the hypocrisy of Zulekha’s father, Noor Mohammad, and the strong women in this serial. Waseem Abbas outdid himself as a hypocritical religious man who is dead set on making sure the women in his household abide by rules of modesty and chasteness, but is completely unwilling to follow them himself. I also loved the fact that we had no shortage of strong female characters in this serial. Whether it was Zulekha defying her father (and yet, she showed she was not completely rogue by showing that she did still love and care for him) in making a life for herself, or Hajra (played by Mizna Waqas), who is inspired by her sister’s courage and does all she can to help her in the process, or Madiha (played by Mansha Pasha), who selflessly sacrifices her love with grace and strength. But I must say, when it comes to strong women, Aafiya Begum (played by Hina Khwaja Bayat) takes the cake. Her witty dialogues and sharp tongue are one of the best parts of the serial. Behroze Sabzwari, who plays Waji Ahmed (Yousuf’s father) does justice to his role, in showing his character as upbeat, yet inside he is dejected and fearful for Yousuf’s well-being. He sees a courage in Yousuf that he once had, but was not able to see through to the end. He admires Yousuf for it, but also wants to prepare Yousuf for the possibility that he may have the same fate that he did. Ali Sheikh, who plays Tajee, Yousuf’s friend, shows his character’s loyalty and support and acts as his conscience as he attempts to achieve his goal. Imran Abbas proves yet again that there is no role he cannot play, and makes it all the more real and believable. This drama highlights the hypocrisy that we have in our society, and shows us the value of love and sacrifice. It is a must watch!
Tum Kon Piya (تم کون پیا) (March 23rd, 2016 - October 26th, 2016)
Based on the Urdu novel written by Maha Malik, this serial is about Elma (played by Ayeza Khan) and Ramish (played by Imran Abbas), who share a very innocent and pure type of love, but due to circumstances that neither of them have control over, are unable to get married. This drama is definitely another guilty pleasure, because the story is not new in any way, but somehow Maha Malik and director Yasir Nawaz keep us engaged from the first episode until the very last one. Elma might be seen as “weak” and “backwards” but honestly I don’t think there could be a stronger character for a woman. I found myself identifying with her in many ways, because of her simplicity and her devotion to her father, Waqar Ali (played by Qavi Khan. I must say, Qavi Khan’s dialogues and delivery were one of my favorite parts of the drama...is it possible for his acting to touch me more than it already has? His Urdu is flawless, and he plays the simple, down-to-earth father with grace and humility. There are also incredible performances by Ali Abbas, who plays Zarbab (Elma’s husband), Hina Khwaja Bayat, who plays Sharafat Begum (Elma’s mother-in-law), and Yasir Shoro, who plays Arif (Elma’s brother-in-law) among others. In many episodes, Yasir Shoro stole the show with his portrayal of the “evil devar” (evil brother-in-law), with dialogue delivery that truly blew me away. I was not much of a fan of Ayeza Khan until I saw this drama, but she definitely won me over. Her simplicity in her expressions portray a thousand words. Imran Abbas, of course, played the simple, down-to-earth rich man, who teaches us to stand up for what we believe in. This is someone who knows his responsibilities and always does what is right. This drama recently ended, and needless to say I was devastated when it did! It taught me about sacrifice and how important it is to live for the people you love and how important it is to appreiciate them. It is so easy to live a selfish life without even realizing it...we must make sure we are helping those who need it whenever and wherever we can. The title song for this drama was sung by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, who was able to do it nothing but justice. It has become another one of my favorite drama songs. All in all, this drama definitely goes in my top favorites!
Udaari (اڈاری) (April 10th, 2016 - September 25th, 2016)
Starring Bushra Ansari, Samiya Mumtaz, Ashan Khan, Urwa Hocane, and Farhan Saeed, this drama showed a huge taboo that sadly is not discussed often enough in Pakistan: Child abuse. It is a subject that many people overlook and don’t always recognize. Farhan Saeed shows his acting and singing talents and Urwa Hocane truly branches out and shines in this role. Areesha Ahsan does a phenomenal job as Zebo, and becomes a face for many children who suffer her fate. I must say, Ahsan Khan outdoes himself, so much so that he is rather frightening! But it is great to see Pakistan tackle this important topic. This drama teaches us that conquering our fears is the only way to move on, to achieve our dreams all we have to do is have the willpower and support to do it. This is another moving serial, which will have you spellbound!These ten dramas are some of my favorites, but there are countless others I would also recommend depending on genre and taste. Let me know in the comments which ones are your favorites, and which other ones you’d recommend!