The Tone Deafness of Pakistani Dramas - by Laraib Laiq

The Tone Deafness of Pakistani Dramas in Light of the Wave of Violence Against Women - by Laraib Laiq

Pakistani dramas get called out on their tone-deafness often, yet we don’t see any effort being made to improve it. Production houses, producers, directors, and actors need to start being more responsible about their work and what they represent. Given the recent wave of violence against women, Pakistani dramas have disappointed us. We often find elements of misogyny in drama serials, However, we usually expect dramas from major production houses and stellar casts to be more sensitive about the circumstances surrounding the majority of their audience, i.e. women.

In particular, I’m talking about two major dramas; Dunk and Laapata. In the first episode of Laapata, we see Geeti, using her social media presence, to falsely accuse a shopkeeper of harassing her. We keep hearing about cases of women who were never believed when they spoke up, and amidst the surge of these cases in the country, we get to see this.

In normal circumstances, I would’ve been okay with it, because people do misuse the power of social media and their followers to exploit others, or to take advantage in various situations. It’s true. However, this narrative is not appropriate when women, who are rightfully accusing their harassers, are not being believed.

When Dunk started to air, there was a lot of debate about how it was wrong to make a drama about a man being falsely accused, but I disagreed. A very small percentage of women do falsely claim to be harassed, and if the makers of the drama want to tell the story of a man whose life was ruined after a false claim of harassment, it’s fine. Although such instances, where a man is wrongfully accused, are rare, creators are well within their rights to tell his story. Drama serial Jhooti, which has now ended, also faced similar backlash. It was about a woman who constantly lied and wrongfully accused her husband of domestic violence. While it is rare for women to do this, I am not against the depiction of different sorts of stories. During that drama, domestic violence, or crimes against women were not glorified.

What’s problematic is the second-last episode of this drama, which was aired on Saturday. Haider, who was wrongly charged with attempt-of-rape by Amal, kidnaps her and takes her to an abandoned area. He continuously threatens to sexually assault her, locks her in a dark room and plays a recording of men making indecent remarks to scare her. And all this is presented as the hero’s way of getting ‘justice’.