Move aside Netflix, forget Amazon Prime, Pakistan’s classic dramas are available on YouTube for free viewing during this lockdown. Yes, we know that not everyone is a fan of old dramas but trust me, none of these 10 dramas will bore you for a minute. Not only have they stood apart from the dramas of their generation, but they also raised the bar when they were aired for the first time. Let’s take a sneak peek into these dramas and why they should be watched (first-time or repeat viewing) during these days of isolation!
Waris (1979 – 80)
Cast: Abid Ali, Mehboob Alam, Munawwar Saeed, Uzma Gilani, Samina Ahmed, Firdous Jamal, Sajjad Kishwar
Writer: Amjad Islam Amjad
Director: Nusrat Thakur, Ghazanfar Ali
If ever there was a list of iconic PTV dramas was compiled, Waris would end as one of the top three dramas of all times. It was more action-oriented than any other film of that era, had more mystery than most of the films produced at that time and above all, had a star cast to die for. Mehboob Alam’s portrayal of Chaudhry Hashmat not only skyrocketed his career but also gave the audience an antagonist they could hate for the rest of their lives. The play also had Abid Ali, Munawwar Saeed, Uzma Gilani, Firdous Jamal, Samina Ahmed, Aurangzeb Leghari, Sajjad Kishwar in pivotal roles who did justice to Amjad Islam Amjad’s magnificent script.
Cast: Shehnaz Sheikh, Javed Sheikh, Saleem Nasir, Jamshed Ansari, Shakeel
Writer: Haseena Moin
Director: Mohsin Ali, Shoaib Mansoor
You are not a true PTV buff if you hadn’t seen Ankahi more than once; Haseena Moin’s classic drama is so timeless that even today, the audience can relate to it. Everyone loved Shehnaz Sheikh and Javed Sheikh in the drama but it was Saleem Nasir who stole the spotlight as the Mamoon who always had an ace up his sleeve, be it breaking weddings, avoid getting married or conning relatives from abroad. The one-liners, the characters and the storyline still seems like a thing from a couple of years back, when in fact in two years, the drama will be celebrating its 40th anniversary!
Aangan Terha (1983)
Cast: Shakeel, Bushra Ansari, Saleem Nasir, Arshad Mahmud, Durdana Butt
Writer: Anwar Maqsood
Director: Qaiser Farooq
And then there was this classic from the good old 1980s in which Anwar Maqsood criticized everything about our society but got away with it, because those at the helm failed to connect the dots. Shakeel and Bushra Ansari played an elderly couple who had Arshad Mahmud and Durdana Butt as their neighbours. The Mehboob Ahmed – Jehan Ara couple wanted to rent a room in their house but every time, they had a paying guest, something out-of-the-world happened. Their manservant Akbar played by Saleem Nasir (again) was the main cause of whatever mischief was going around, and you have to watch the drama to enjoy it!
Andhera Ujala (1984-85)
Cast: Qavi Khan, Jamil Fakhri, Irfan Khoosat, Abid Butt
Writer: Younis Javed
Director: Rashid Dar
Although PTV has had its share of success when it comes to drama series, none has managed to survive like Andhera Ujala, the cop show that has aged gracefully. It was the series version of long play Ragon Mein Anhera and ended with a film version Direct Havaldaar that featured the same cast. In every episode, there was a case that the team had to solve under the leadership of their SHO Qavi Khan (who replaced Rahat Kazmi from the long play) as well as police officers played by the righteous Abid Butt, the shady yet competitive Jamil Fakhri besides the always hilarious Irfan Khoosat’s Havaldaar Karam Daad.
Cast: Shehnaz Sheikh, Marina Khan, Asif Raza Mir, Badar Khalil, Qazi Wajid, Azra Sherwani, Jamshed Ansari
Writer: Haseena Moin
Director: Shehzad Khalil
In a world of PTV dramas, be something different, different like Tanhaiyan. The play revolved around two sisters Zara and Saniya (Shehnaz Sheikh and Marina Khan) who were orphaned in the opening episodes and went onto live with their aunt (Badar Khalil). In her desire to repurchase her father’s home, Zara managed to become super successful as a designer, but lost touch with her family, something she gained after a tragic accident. The characters of Qabacha (Behroz Sabzwari) and Buqrat (Jamshed Ansari) became legendary after this play, as did Aapa Bi (Azra Sherwani), Faran (Qazi Wajid) among others. And if you think that Ahad Raza Mir is the most handsome actor to grace our TV screens, watch Tanhaiyan to know that his dad Asif Raza Mir was far more handsome, and desirable back in the day.
Dhoop Kinaray (1987)
Cast: Rahat Kazmi, Marina Khan, Hameed Wyne, Sajid Hasan, Kehkashan Awan,
Writer: Haseena Moin
Director: Sahira Kazmi
Before there was Grey’s Anatomy, there was Dhoop Kinarey for Pakistani audience. Written by Haseena Moin and directed by Sahira Kazmi, it featured Rahat Kazmi and Marina Khan as Dr. Ahmed and Dr. Zoya, two of the most iconic characters created on PTV. Besides being a mentor and mentee, they had a mysterious connection that included a house, making their situation all the more interesting. Sajid Hasan was introduced through the drama that also revived the career of film actor Hameed Wyne, cast Arshad Mahmud in a rare serious role and had a soundtrack to die for. Most of the Ahmers and Zoyas that you might meet today were named after the lead characters, such was the drama’s popularity at that time!
Sunehrey Din (1991)
Cast: Saleem Sheikh, Faraz Inam, Qasim Khan, Hamid Wyne, Azra Mansoor
Writer: Shoaib Mansoor
Director: Shoaib Mansoor, Mohsin Ali
No finer drama on the Armed forces of Pakistan was produced before this one, and the only other play that matches its popularity was its sequel Alpha Bravo Charlie (more on that later). Saleem Sheikh was introduced through this ISPR production for which writer/director Shoaib Mansoor had to spend time with Army Cadets, so he can create something out of the ordinary. And that’s exactly what he created, a play that revolved around Pakistan Army and made many join the Armed forces. Aagaya Hai Kyon Kakool Mere Jaisa Bloody Fool, Moral Kaisa Hai High Sir, Upto The Sky Sir, are just a couple of iconic one-liners that the audience remembers after nearly three decades. The drama was filled with comedy scenes especially the ones where Saleem Sheikh’s Safeer takes revenge from Faraz for something that didn’t concern him at all.
Cast: Noman Ijaz, Atiqa Odho, Asad, Fazila Kazi, Abid Ali, Sabiha Khanum, Ayub Khoso
Writer: Munnu Bhai
Director: Abid Ali, F H Qureshi
The only drama in this list that didn’t air on PTV is Dasht that was produced for NTM, a private channel that defined the 90s for the entire country. Featuring forever young Noman Ijaz and ageless beauty Atiqa Odho, this Abid Ali production was way ahead of its times. At a time when there was no scope for OSTs, he made Wajid Ali Nashad come up with multiple songs that are still popular; it revolved around the Baloch culture and traditions, and was even filmed like a feature film, not like a drama. The cast comprised of actors from all over Pakistan which was a format that was followed by many private productions, and managed to take the TV industry forward.
Cast: Aashir Azeem, Nabeel, Asal Din Khan, Nayyar Ejaz, Nazli Nasr
Writer: Ashir Azeem
Director: Sajjad Ahmed
As PTV’s very own action series, Dhuwan managed to capture the imagination of the 1990s youth by being more like a Hollywood venture than a Pakistani. It was the story of a handful of friends who wanted to bring a change in the society even if it meant taking the law into their own hands. Led by Aashir Azeem’s Azhar, the drama featured an excellent background score by Farrukh Abid, used Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s song perfectly and had action scenes, something that was a rarity on TV back then. Aashir Azeem was part of the police force at that time, and with this play he managed to portray the cops in a positive light, just like Andhera Ujala did a decade earlier.
Alpha Bravo Charlie (1998)
Cast: Faraz Inam, Qasim Khan, Abdullah Mehmood, Shahnaz Khawaja, Malik Ata Mohammad Khan
Writer: Shoaib Mansoor
Director: Shoaib Mansoor
Before there was Ehd-e-Wafa, there was Alpha Bravo Charlie, perhaps the last of Pakistan Television’s classic dramas. To the current generation it was the sequel to Sunehrey Din and a prequel to Ehd-e-Wafa but for those who saw it on TV, it was an experience. The three main characters were shown as soldiers who entered the Army, then became successful in their respective careers and had a great life serving their country. Every major or minor character in the drama is still as fresh in the audience’s mind as it was back in the late 90s, and it heralded the careers of Faraz Inam, Qasim Khan and Abdullah Mehmood to stardom. They are more known to their fans as their characters than their own names even today, and if that’s not popularity I don’t know what is.