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Chupke Chupke: The Highs and The Lows

Airing Ramzan exclusive drama serials has become quite the norm now. Every year, the best of the best cast and directors set out to produce a hit Ramzan drama series that hooks the audiences to their television screens. One such serial is Chupke Chupke, aired on HUM TV in 2021. Starring Ayeza Khan and Osman Khalid Butt in leading roles, the drama traces the lives of two families belonging to the first and second wife of the patriarch respectively. There is no doubt that the spectacular casting, humour and appealing storyline made the drama a smashing hit yet it still has its shares of lows.

Anybody watching the series would agree that like any Pakistani household, tea is an integral part of the characters lives and is repeatedly brought up during the course of the drama. While asking for and making tea is completely acceptable, the problem occurs when it is only the women of the house that are asked to make it. For e.g, Meenu (Ayeza Khan) is constantly asked by her husband Faazi (Osman Khalid) and brother Hadi (Arslan Naseer) to make tea. Either it is her or one of the elder women in the house such as the aunts who are working in the kitchen. By marking the kitchen and more prominently making tea as an exclusive female space, the drama further emphasises the role of domesticity as being for women while the men go out to work and relax. It could have been helpful if the male characters in the drama were also shown to make tea themselves whenever they wanted it especially younger cousins and brothers rather than disturbing any female character in the drama a ridiculous number of times

The drama also sets in action the double standards exercised by our society when it comes to the question of dealing with the boys and girls in the house. In the initial episodes, when Faazi and Meenu are getting married to different people, the family stays cool when Faazi takes his bride to be out for shopping. Yet, when Meenu goes out to shop with her future husband, all the family members including her cousin brothers take offence at that. As the elders make Meenu's life a living hell by calling her again and again to come back, Waleed (another cousin brother of Meenu) confronts their double standards with being fine with Faazi doing the same thing while not allowing Meenu. At this bebe (grandmother) says "Ab bhaiyon ka muqabla karegi wo?" Why is it that Faazi was allowed to do the same thing when Meenu wasn't? Do girls have a lesser capability to go out with their potential partners and interact with them, shouldn't they have a right to do so as well? why is it okay that Faazi is able to take somebody else's daughter out but it is not digestible for another man to take their daughter out for shopping? This one sentence clearly grants the brothers more privilege over the sister.

Another stereotype that the drama enforces is that of the evil sister-in-laws, in this case Faazi's sisters especially the character of Gul Apa (Mira Sethi). Not only do the three sisters give Faazi any space but also constantly intervene in his married life to the point that his marriage takes an ugly turn. It is a typical portrayal of controlling the "only" brother that they have but it also questions the idea of how sister-in-laws should act and about giving the newlyweds some time and space. Isn't it important to show the sister-in-laws being supportive of the newlyweds and not infringing their privacy? Can the brother in this case not be given some agency over how he acts and the sister being portrayed as being his support? Airing characters such as Gul Apa only further enforce the negative "Nand" and "phoopho" images that exist in our society by making it clear that the sister-in-law will be evil always.

While Chupke Chupke has its share of problems, the drama also sets tones for more progressive perspectives. Meenu, by the end of the play makes it clear that as much as a woman needs to compromise for the marriage to settle, a man has to as well. She says, "Shaadi aurat se zyada mard ka imtehaan hai, unko balance maintain karna kyun nahi sikhata koi?" Often in our dramas and society, we hear people say "ghar basane ke liye aurat ko he compromise karna parta hai" but here Meenu clearly dispels this idea by also pointing to the fact that as much as a woman has to sacrifice and compromise coming into a new home, a man has to create a balance too. While his family is definitely important but so is his wife and there should be equal respect and importance given to both by him.

The drama also shows how the families live together in harmony despite the two co-wives being at odds with each other most of the times. It subverts the idea that step families will always be evil and poisoned towards one another but rather it shows that despite being related through blood or not, it is possible for family members to cherish their bonds and remain connected putting aside any differences that the two co-wives only share.

All in all, while Chupke Chupke would seem subtly regressive in some instances, it does push back against various stereotypes in society and emerges as a humorous easy to watch TV show.

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This was very insightful! It is encouraging to see the drama challenge traditional notions of marriage through Meenu's character. Her assertion that marriage is a test for both men and women and that balance and compromise are essential from both parties is a progressive message. It highlights the importance of mutual respect, understanding, and shared responsibilities in a marital relationship, countering the notion that only women should bear the burden of compromises.

Furthermore, the portrayal of harmonious relationships within the blended family structure challenges the stereotype that step-families are inherently contentious. It promotes the idea that love, understanding, and acceptance can transcend blood relations and foster strong bonds within a diverse family unit.

By acknowledging both the positive aspects and…


Loved your insights, Fatima. Pakistani dramas are trying to promote more progressive narratives these days but as you mentioned, someway or the other, the facade that they have created to prevent backlash becomes quite clear. Yes, I did wanted to consider the point where Meenu was using marriage as an excuse to get rid of her studies but from what I recall her father was always very keen on meenu completing her education and then getting married. He even refuses the first proposal that comes for her on the same basis but agrees after everyone pressurises him on the condition that they will let her study. Regardless, I do agree with your point that this message was disseminated in the…


Loved the read!

It is essential for TV dramas and media, in general, to challenge and break away from these stereotypes. By representing women in a wide range of roles that reflect their agency, aspirations, and contributions to society, media can contribute to a more inclusive and egalitarian narrative. Embracing diverse and empowering representations of women can inspire positive social change and foster greater gender equality.


Very detailed analysis of the drama addressing both the positive and negative aspects. Pakistani dramas often set out to be of the kind that aligns with our everyday experiences but instead of alignment they construct a reality of their own. While the show has actively addressed certain steretypes, It could have also put it in action in an attempt to normalize it rather than voicing something that is not given much heed and often dealt with by ruthless replies such as the one you stated "Ab bhaiyon ka muqabla karegi wo?". Also i believe the producers of the show had certain limitations to adhere to and were thus only capable of addressing a few issues such as the double standards…

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Agreed, I feel that in a lot of cases and especially in the Pakistani context, there is a lot of pressure on the creators too, they can digress from certain dominant narratives but only are given a very small space to do so. Otherwise, the show is well on its way to get banned as you mentioned. Also, more than that, even as much progressive as the narrative can get, the creators to a lot of extent have to keep in mind the TRPs too. Most of the times, dramas filled with family gossips and the good old trope of a passive suffering woman gain higher ratings than ones that might be resisting such ideas and exploring a new concept.…


Loved the article! And I really enjoyed how you included both the areas where stereotypes are being challenged and where they aren't. I still do believe that in many ways Pakistan television dramas these days are trying to add elements that can steer away from the generic stereotypes but a lot of the effort seems to be done forcefully to prevent backlash. Even if the show ended with dialogue (as you mentioned) on the importance of balance in marriage by men, there is still the entire length of the drama with all other episodes placing the burden on the female. Unnecessary burdens, kitchen work, and just general women obsessed with house drama is itself problematic within these shows. And one…

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