Written by Maha Rashid
With innumerable obstacles and problems plaguing Pakistan, continuously disrupting the peace of citizens of the country and increasing stress levels in individuals, temporary entertainment seems like a golden opportunity to break through – to find liberty in the confining gloom of troubles. Over the years, Pakistani entertainment seems to have evolved, presenting a spectrum of scenarios, stronger performances, expressive characters and development in various arenas like sports – all set to capture the hearts and minds of the people all over the country.
Even though the means of entertainment available in Pakistan is limited, Pakistanis tend to make the most of it while they can. Referring to this, the transition of Pakistan’s cinema has proven to be revolutionary. From producing slightly amateur films like ‘Chain Na Aye’ in 2017, sparking rage from the viewers due to the indirect and extreme promotion of domestic violence in the movie, the film industry has come a long way since then. In fact in 2019, Shoaib Mansoor directed an exquisite film, ‘Verna’ portraying the flawed and powerful politicians residing in Pakistan, getting undue advantages and perks. The movie also went on to showcase how a young married woman, Sarah takes the plunge to battle against an inhumane politician who sexually assaults her, all while combating her family’s concern about their image and prestige. This proved to be a major stepping stone in highlighting women empowerment.
Alongside this progress, the film industry was also successful in creating unique films like ‘Cake’ which emphasized the true essence of family and love. Not only this, the Pakistani cinema has also been successful in producing light-hearted films such as ‘Punjab Nahi Jaungi’ and ‘Jawani Phir Nahi Ani’, catering to the demands of a different kind of audience which craves for action and thrill. Cinemas in Pakistan are usually jam packed with people on the week days and on the week-ends. Catering to kids, the film industry has also created movies like ‘3 Bahadur’ and ‘The Donkey King’ providing a new mode of excitement and thrill for them.
However, to say that entertainment is exclusively for the elite and upper class citizens of Pakistan would be quite contradictory as far as Pakistani Dramas are concerned. Youngsters and adults alike are provided with drama entertainment within the comfort of their own homes. Unlike the unrealistic and monotonous ‘Saas-Bahu’ fights oozing with melodramatic scenes, Pakistani Dramas have been an all-time-favorite source of pleasure for people since quite a long time.
Even though dramas such as ‘Humsafar’ depicted a helpless Khirad being misjudged and manipulated by her vindictive mother-in-law, it did provide an intricate touch of romance, intimacy and delicacy between Khirad and Ashar, owing to it having thousands of fans all across the globe. Moving on, ‘Zindagi Gulzar Hai’, a quite realistic take on the struggles faced by a poor, abandoned family of three daughters and a resilient mother also proved to steal numerous hearts. It went on to eradicate the stigma attached to working and independent women when the protagonist, Kashaf became a prominent and successful CSSR office all due to her efforts and endeavor. It showed how a woman is not required to depend on a male for her desires or needs; she has the freedom to be independent and self-reliant. Modern day dramas aired like ‘Udaari’ have shown to unveil the society’s indifference towards rape and violence, further providing support individuals going through adverse times. Coming to the joyful and cheery side, comedy dramas like ‘Bulbulay’ and ‘Namak Paray’ have also been a major crowd preference.
“Entertainment provides relief and art provides engagement” – as said by David Foster. This is exactly where theatre acts play their ultimate role. In Pakistan, The Arts Council is a renowned center which displays theatre performances to engage the audience. Theatre plays however do have tickets with hefty prices and this is exactly where the lower and middle classes fail to relish and enjoy such performances. The high prices restrict these shows especially for the elite classes which is an enormous drawback. Despite this flaw, the theatre industry has bloomed over the years by showcasing exceptional dramatic arts. Known and famous plays include ‘Dhaani’, a comedy play reflecting the true and authentic Pakistani culture. The well-known Anwar Maqsood has left no stone unturned in creating magnificent masterpieces like ‘Anghan Terha’, a satirical take on society and the recent favorite ‘Kyun Nikala’. Even prominent actresses like Sanam Saeed and Sarwat Ghilani are an integral addition to such theatre plays, making them ever so interesting for the audiences to watch. Live performances are much appreciated by people; it is realistic, original and magical.
To think that entertainment is restricted to the media industry would be an understatement. More so, Pakistanis try to find thrill and excitement in the little things in life. For instance, shopping! Who would miss a chance to hang out and get their hands on the new stilettos in town? Some women and men alike consider shopping as the perfect retail therapy. With shopping, eat out with one’s pals is also another way of relaxation and to pass their time. But when it comes to this kind of entertainment, it is an added leverage only for the upper class and the rich of the society. You cannot possibly shop and eat to your heart’s desire unless you have a plausible means to earn money.
While the above is only a pleasure for the rich, people of all classes, stature and backgrounds are free to express their spirits and zeal in enjoying sports. Whether it is watching a live match in a stadium or having their eyes glued to the sports channel on the television screen, people support and appreciate their team players and wait in anticipation for a victory of the team that they support. Cricket is widely enjoyed within the country with countless cricket fanatics pumped up for the next big match. On the other hand, Hockey is another widely known sport and also the national sport of Pakistan which is another means of entertainment for sports lovers. Friends get together with some comfort food to enjoy watching matches together, doubling the amusement.
Overall, Pakistanis are not to be underestimated when we talk about entertainment. Since partition in 1947, Pakistan has made a true name for itself and is constantly trying to win the spotlight. Change in dramas, mindsets, film stories – all accounts for where it stands today when looked at from the perspective of entertainment. With less and insufficient means, these Pakistanis sure know how to turn the tables and find warmth and amusement in the little things and take advantage of every opportunity they are given.