When we look at Pakistan’s drama industry, we see a number of dramas marking their legacies. Some of the dramas have made it to Netflix. One drama that has been famous and infamous among many is Zindagi Gulzaar Hai. This drama highlights the differences in the lifestyle of the elite and poor class. It also establishes an overlapping connection between the stories of characters belonging to different classes. This drama comes under the genre ‘romance’.
Viewers have highlighted toxic elements by stating that it underplayed the role of a successful woman and established a negative framework around a successful woman which she built through hard work and dedication. This drama depicts the values of our society that are to expand the choices a man and give him the authority to dictate the lives of people around them. The protagonists in this drama are Zaroon Junaid, Kashaf Murtaza, Rafiya Murtaza, Sara, Ghazala Junaid, and Junaid.
Misogynistic Character & Blaming Successful Woman
The drama shows a high achiever student Zaroon Junaid, belonging to the upper class, practices his freedom and will by flirting with girls and choosing to stay out late with friends. He also assigns a name ‘churail’ to his class fellow Kashaf Murtaza when he saw her name at the top of university admission list. Zaroon instructs his sister to act according to societal norms throughout the drama. He told his sister to not be out for so long and that he can do it because he is a man. Further, he broke up with his girlfriend because she wouldn’t stop going out with her male friends. He gets enraged when he learned of her trip to Dubai with her friends. The disturbing attitude of Zaroon and his sister is shown to link to their parents not giving them time, primarily their mother. This drama raises the idea that a career-oriented woman finds it difficult to give full time to her children that affect their personality development. It shows that their father tries to bring flexibility in their routine but the mother solely focuses on her career. He constantly tries to propagate the idea of giving time to their children through dialogue but she denies it saying that they are old enough to comprehend how busy she is. This drama establishes the success of a woman to be the causation of the disturbed attitude of her children. The two things can be correlated but correlation doesn’t really mean causation. She is also defined to be a woman who instils hatred in her daughter for men and advice her to maintain a non-flexible controlling attitude towards her husband.
Ideal woman in the eyes of not so ideal man
It sketches a negative image of members of the upper class who fail to comprehend the problems faced by the members of the lower class. Zaroon and his friends refused to recognize the problems and hardships Kashaf faced in getting to university and then maintaining good grades in the university. All this hardship made her a bit bitter towards others who were labelled as rude, insensitive, arrogant, and insane by Zaroon and his friends. The character ‘Zaroon’ mentions how he needed a marital partner who listens to him and has attributes like Kashaf. He mentions how she has less interaction with boys which he admires. He himself engages not only in long conversations with girls but also had a relationship. This shows the hypocritical nature of this character. The drama shows this part to be overshadowed by his romantic personality and his attempt at a smooth relationship.
He also acts like an alpha male and his ego is damaged when Kashaf refuses to befriend him or like him. Later when he marries Kashaf, he starts to check her phone and looks at her through the lens of dubiousness. He also got furious when he learns that one of his friends had proposed to Kashaf before him and Kashaf hadn’t informed him about this. This highlights the problematic aspect of his nature to know everything about another person and shows the underlying urge to control the meetings or interaction of the one he loves. This drama picks up the extremist attitudes from two classes and their stories showcase gradual attainment of moderation in their relationships when it was a mere compromise. The extremist attitude by one character is substantial hatred towards men based on her past experience such as her father.
Secondly, the character holds extremist attitudes when it comes to women around him which are reflected in knowing minute details regarding the person he loves. This is evident in his statements about Kashaf not informing him about the proposal by Osama and not telling him when she took a loan to purchase the house for her mother.
There is also a positive side to the drama ‘Zindagi Gulzaar Hai ‘. This drama does show that upward social mobility became possible after investing blood and sweat. Kashaf’s mother was shown to be an empowering figure who solely managed her household and enabled her daughters to achieve stable lives. The ending also shows a ray of hope when Zaroon and Kashaf get along with each other very well and convey the message that life can really be a beautiful garden.
Finally breaking societal norm or patriarchal nature, not really
This drama also portrays a negative character of Kashaf’s father who discourages and demotivates his wife and children from going to college and marriages. He even asks them to leave the house as Kashaf refuses to wed his brother’s son. If you think that at least somewhere the drama refutes the societal norm then you are wrong. It is also shown that this man is highly influenced by his second wife which again reiterates the negative role of women and the exploitation of a man.
Currently, there are many dramas imprinting old ideologies on people’s minds that shows a woman in a negative light in the form of different relationships. They are shown to be the root cause of all problems and drama going on in the lives of all family members. The dramas aired in this day and age in Pakistan display misogynistic ideals and uphold negative attributes of women.
How Pakistani Drama Portray a Woman?
Pakistan’s drama industry shows two sides of a woman in many dramas. One side comprises of women engaging in vices like manipulation, backbiting, beguiling, harming, jealousy, and hatred as evident in the recent dramas ‘Jhooti’ and ‘Dilruba’. Another side of women is shown to be victimized and clung on by their fingernails in relationships despite facing abuses and humiliation. This character tries hard to prove her innocence and pure character. She also forgives people who have been unfair and harsh to her.
What needs to be done?
The world is developing at a fast pace incorporating different areas of problem in their drama industry like psychology, science, justice, and personality issues. The structure of dramas is so wide that it covers all areas even those considered taboo in many places while our industry seems to be making dramas on the same topics again and again. Our drama industry has to revamp the structure and move away from just displaying two extreme sides of a woman.
It’s high time now and dramas have to contain a diverse set of stories and different scenarios instead of focusing on characters. The audience here praises quality content or at least different types of content which is evident from the fact that the show ‘Resurrection: Ertugrul’ became famous and was watched by many people here. Restriction of choice has caused the audience to consume monotonous and low-quality dramas. The diverse dramas will expand the thinking capacity of the audience and allow them to develop a lens for viewing different cultures and places from an all-encompassing perspective.