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The woman on the screen is draped in the same old, typical, heavy sari with a lot of make-up. Her mangalsutra testifies that she is married and your brain recognizes her as another damsel in distress from an Indian drama. Her bewildered expression gives away her disbelieve in the current not-so-new situation she finds herself in. Despite her Indian bahu sacrifices and love her husband-god’s parents, grandparents, his chachas and mamas, all dwelling in the same old mansion which has been part of the industry for centuries, now her husband does not realize her love so he has just kicked her out of his house and tears and cries come rushing next with the classical background music which nearly puts you to a nap but there’s always a second option: flick the channel!
Everything’s original on this one though. A whole different lifestyle, a different location, bright, trendy outfits and the drama also has its own OST! This, of course is a Pakistani drama. While there is still head to head competition between the Pakistani and Indian film industry, there is absolutely no comparison between the drama industry.
On the Indian side, the central character is almost always a pained lass who is so innocuous and so gullible that she hardly ever gets the villains of her life who almost always work toward snatching the kids from her or ruining her angel-from-the-heaven impression or taking over her Patti Parmeshwar! And the IQ 140 villain does this also almost always because she is jealous of that gullible heroine, giving her a life as tragic as Shakespeare’s Ophelia!
On the Pakistani end though, there is a 360 degree difference in all the locations, characters, dressing and plots. Most of the original sound track of the dramas make way to the lips and humming of many people. The locations are never the same, some are even shot in foreign in this way adding an awe inspiring background with a life of its own. The houses are sometimes mighty and sometimes tiny, depending on the need of the story. There is no single, traditional wear for the characters. Every actor dresses as per the need of his or her character. The poor ones don old, worn out prints, the rich dress in bright, beautiful designer clothes, their costumes speak volumes of the paper notes put in and the business class puts on western wear and mind you both genders can belong to this status.
The Pakistani stories embed fresh ideas. The damsel is not always in distress, sometimes the guy can also be. She’s not a typical housewife in all the plays but she can be a studious learner, an artist, an independent business woman, the hoity-toity daughter of a rich business man or in nutshell she could be any character you observe in your daily life. The theme bears variety and new issues outlining the society are depicted. Indian dramas almost always have the same old, unique with a few different touches being squeezed in the plot but nonetheless pretty much predictable. Even a child can tell you what’s about to happen next! Efforts are being made to show the lead actress as an English speaking, educated, independent woman yet the central character being a literate fails to see the intrigues surrounding her. She is more like a lamb in her house and a lion outside, not very realistic really!
The gap between the drama universe still remains. Where, the Pakistani dramas are a reflection on the social issues and happenings and a tremendous effort of promoting the various cultures making it; the Indian drama remains entrapped in the abyss of a monotonous theme and depiction of a single culture. It could perhaps be the differing talents or different viewer demands accounting for such a wide gulf in the drama industry of the twin sister countries or varying mindsets altogether.