Kubra Khan, Saba Qamar, Sonya Hussain, Yumna Zaidi, Zara Noor Abbas. Photo: Files
Pakistani dramas are generally perceived as women-oriented, but most of the plays usually revolve around the ordeals of a damsel (or a married woman) in distress. Sometimes their husbands leave them for another woman, and on other occasions, their old flame returns to reclaim his position. However, there have been some instances where a powerful woman has defied all odds to stand out against those who wronged her and won over the audience with her will and tenacity. Who are these women and how did they excel in a challenging role, let’s find out:
Kubra Khan’s Parisa in Muqabil (2017)
Usually debutant actresses opt for simple roles on TV where they are noticed for their beauty instead of their brains. However, film actress Kubra Khan went for the most challenging role of her career in Muqabil, where she played the character of a rape victim who gets married to the son of her rapist. Not only did she excel as a wronged woman who was left traumatized after the incident, she made life miserable for her father-in-law Mehmood (Asif Raza Mir), by using her husband Armaan (Mohsin Abbas Haider). The viewers were shocked at the bold story at first but after watching the entire play, they sympathized with Parisa, and rooted for her.
Saba Qamar’s Fauzia in Baaghi (2018)
On one hand there are challenging characters while on the other, there is Fauzia in Baaghi, made eternal by Saba Qamar. It is one of those characters that make or break a career, and for Saba Qamar it turned out to be a life-changing experience. Based on the life of the controversial Pakistani blogger Qandeel Baloch, this play addressed many subjects, including honor killing and illiteracy, to name a few. Due to Saba Qamar’s realistic portrayal, Baaghi became an international success and comparisons between her portrayal and Qandeel Baloch’s life became the talk of the town. She played the rags to riches character with so much conviction that many found her too close to reality, which hardly ever happens in a TV play. Even the scene where her character was murdered, Saba Qamar’s performance was top notch, and the climax was termed as one of the saddest endings in recent years on TV.
Yumna Zaidi’s Hajra in Inkaar (2019)
Inspired by the real life incident where Khadija Siddiqui was stabbed, Inkaar came out as one of the most sought after TV dramas in recent years. What made it better than its competition was the intelligent handling of the subject as well Yumna Zaidi’s performance, as the victim who survived the ordeal and returned to take back her revenge, legally. The story revolves around Hajra, the daughter of a local moulvi (Rehan Sheikh), who falls in love with a colleague Rehan Chaudhry (Imran Ashraf), only to realize that another colleague Shayan (Sami Khan) is interested in her. When she finds out the truth about both the boys and opts for the second one, the first one stabs her repeatedly, and uses his father’s political connections to escape the law. How Hajra and her parents make the culprit pay for his crimes is what makes this drama a must watch. Yumna also went on to win the Critics’ Choice Award at the Lux Style Awards the next year for her brilliant performance.
Sonya Hussyn’s Hoor in Saraab (2020)
Writers in Pakistan are known to go for simple stories that are easier to execute, and follow the norm. However, everything was different in Saraab, where Sonya Hussyn played Hoor, a schizophrenic patient who couldn’t differentiate between reality and a hallucination, hence the drama’s name. She was in love with her cousin Asfandyar (Sami Khan) who wanted to marry her, but the problem arose when a hallucination that advises her also came in the form of Asfandyar, and told her to do things that her mind wanted her to do. The way she pulled off the character was near-perfect as she observed real patients and also spent time with individuals who suffered from the same afflictions as her character’s.
Zara Noor Abbas’s Zeba in Phaans (2021)
Not many dramas feature a young educated middle-class girl who stands for what’s right instead of staying silent because of her background. Phaans revolves around Zeba who was raped one night while she was helping her mother at her employer’s house and was left unattended. Despite her identifying the employer’s son, Sahil (Shehzad Sheikh), as the rapist, nobody believed her because the youngster she pointed at was mentally challenged. Most people left her except for the one who everyone considered as the perpetrator, Samad (Sami Khan), who wanted to find out the truth and prove his innocence. Zara Noor Abbas’ Zeba took Sahil to court, and despite obstacles and hindrances, she managed to get justice from the courts, against all odds. In the process, she lost her mother, was jailed for not agreeing to the terms of a possible agreement, and was blacklisted by her neighbours. When she won the case, she stood vindicated, whereas the real perpetrator was the one who ended behind bars.