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Bulbulay: Bursting Nabeel's bubble

Bulbulay is a Pakistani TV show which has been airing for more than the past 13 years and has released more than 600+ episodes. Despite being highly popular at the time of release, the show has gained a bad reputation over the years. Its jokes have become stale and the plot lacks originality and is very predictable. From misportrayal of feminism to inconsiderate jokes about Pashtuns, Bulbulay has seen its fair share of controversy. However, for this blog, we will be focusing on the character of Nabeel and how it contains misogynistic undertones.


Nabeel can be best described as a lazy man who refuses to earn money himself and is dependent on his father-in-law as a source of income. He also lacks a general responsibility when it comes to everything pertaining to his household, with him having little to no contribution.


The portrayal of such a character is not necessarily problematic, however, when we contrast this behavior with his attitude toward his wife (Khoobsorat), the misogyny presents itself. Not only is he relying on Khoobsorat’s father for money, but instead of showing gratitude, he pushes her to do all the household chores. This reinforces gender stereotypes and shows his misogynistic mindset since the woman is expected to do all of the work while nothing of such sort is expected from the man. He also insists that Khoobsrat respects and takes care of his mother, something that he himself struggles to do. Furthermore, Nabeel is often seen flirting with other women. Certain episodes have shown his desire to marry another woman. This mindset is typical of Pakistani men who have the desire to marry multiple women while taking care of none.


Bulbulay, despite its flaws, continues to be popular to this day. Since a lot of impressionable boys watch this show, they might view Nabeel’s character and not realize the problematic nature of his behavior which can hide behind the “comedic” nature of the show.


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Nabeel’s character in bulbulay is a representation of many men in our society who dream of marrying a rich girl one day and enjoying the luxuries. This is an entirely messed up concept. The fact that nabeel misbehaves with his father in law and taunts him which is disguised as humour normalises it for the viewers. It is supposed to be a family sitcom but it is extremely demeaning for females when their husbands get entertained by the unacceptable behavior of nabeel on screen. In my opinion they should’ve atleast shown one episode where Nabeel realises his mistake and starts breadwinning for his family to neutralise the toxicity of the sitcom. Moreover, the drama clearly defines gender roles in …

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Bulbulay was the highlight of my childhood table talk discussions. Me an my cousins used to mimic "Shut Up" of Momo and laugh at the stupidities of Nabeel and Mahmood sahab. We used to think that Khoobsurat was just a party pooper and ruined Nabeel's fun. However, we never visualised her as the voice of reason in the tv show. Her calling out her husband's incompetency, misogyny and lacklustre behaviour shows that she was not going to tolerate her husband's shenanigans. But what surprises me the most is she still chose to stay with Nabeel .Shouldn't she leave him instead after identifying the toxic red flags of her husband?

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Hi, Thank you for your input. I want to address the question you put forth toward the end of your comment. The reason why Khoobsurat did not leave her husband in the show is that there was no character development of any of the characters shown during the drama. During the 13 years that the show aired on national television, the audience had grown accustomed to the static personalities of each character. At a certain point, the audience had almost turned a blind eye toward the incompetency, misogyny, and lackluster behavior portrayed by Nabeel's character. I believe that the show's producers eventually let things be as they continued to benefit from the series over the years. Perhaps they were too…

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This is a very well written blog post! I am glad someone finally pointed out how Bulbulay has been using humor as a means to disguise so many problematic thoughts and ideas. As you mentioned, Nabeel was not only an irresponsible individual, but was also shown to be a womanizer. The storyline for so many of the episodes of the show simply revolved around Nabeel trying to run away with Khoobsurat's money and marry another woman. And in all these years, the show has tried to normalize Nabeel's way of being when I personally never found his character or dialogues to be funny or humorous in nature.

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This was very well written! I think Bulbulay as you've put it is an "impressionable" show for younger audiences where it popularizes notions and ideas about gender, relations, class and ethics from a comedic lens which can often be a mockery of themes which need to be explored with more complexity and nuance. Interestingly Bulbulay becomes more of a parody of a lot of these serious themes where critical conversations relating to reproductive health, for instance, becomes associated with certain language and phrasology.

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Mahnoor Mannan
Mahnoor Mannan
Dec 10, 2022

The fact that Khoobsorat often has to be the voice of reason for the antics in the household also reinforces the idea that women cannot be funny, or must tolerate the antics of the men in their lives all the time. I remember watching Bulbulay as a child and being frustrated with khoobsorat's inability to go along with everyone else's antics, or be as silly as everyone else, despite the fact that she was just being a reasonable person. Constantly, despite Nabeel's ridiculous actions, the audience is persuaded into loving him because he's funny, and therefore forgivable. Khoobsorat doesn't get the same leeway. Her rage at being treated unfairly in her marriage villainizes her in the eyes of the audience.


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I completely agree! As a child, I definitely felt like Khoobsurat was the least likable character because she was "too bossy" for saying "shut up Nabeel" all the time and being paranoid at Nabeel, who was a funny guy that loves his wife because he calls her "janu". In actuality, he deserved this and much more because he made no contribution to the marriage in terms of finances or helping around the house. Khoobsurat and Momo did all the cooking and taking care of their kids while the whole family survived on the money sent by Khoobsurat's father.

Under patriarchy and the system of division of labor, men are supposed to be the breadwinners. According to ideals of feminism, men…

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