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Portrayal of men in Pakistani dramas

The media has the power to influence people and their viewpoints. In the 21st century, when the role of social institutions is vanishing, it is the media that comes in its place. Its influence ranges from controlling the thoughts of human beings to their practical life. Pakistani dramas also have the same power but unfortunately, people do not act responsibly here. Our dramas show a certain kind of “masculinity” that is dangerous both for men and women.


For example, if we see “Mere Pass tum ho”, we find a loyal man who is working hard to earn for his family while his wife on the other hand cheats him and marries a rich man. Although it is disturbing to see certain genders being allotted certain tags and qualities, it is common in the Pakistani drama industry. The more we explore, the more we find that women are always portrayed as selfish, greedy, and self-centered while men are hardworking, caring, and empathetic. And then it paves the way for disturbing gender roles in society.


Another problem is that men are always being shown as more responsible and emotionless. It results in unfair societal expectations where the people have to act out for their whole lives. A man following the cultural norms is called “ Sakht Londa” while others are being labeled “khusra” or “zanana”.


With the rise of the modern world, we often see good dramas coming into the industry but their numbers are still less and there is a long journey ahead.




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Unknown member
Dec 13, 2021

Yes, you have rightly pointed out that there are some dramas that are unconventional and moved away from toxic masculinity but there numbers are still are far less. The pressure to make this content sometimes comes from the society as well. Because over the years, it has been shaped in a way that unconventional things rarely do good business. But in order to change this, someone has to start because as they say, "In times of darkness, burn your own candle. Because when hundreds candles will be lit, darkness will end".

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Shows like "Meray pass tum ho" demonstrate a very practical/everyday view of masculinity and depicts sexuality in a way that it can attract the masses. While it did work for them as the show got popular, however, with this they contributed to shape a what hyper hegemonic alpha masculinity should look like.

I feel this blog sums up the entire concept of hegemonic or toxic masculinity and it ties up a lot of the concepts. It reiterates how the men have to adapt certain character traits like hardworking, violent, emotionless and unachievable toxicity. Yet the social pressures on men to conform to that ideal are very real which leads to hypermasculinity, i.e., men over-compensating and expressing the toxic extreme traits…


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Unknown member
Dec 13, 2021
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Yes, you are right that this kind of content can be problematic for both men and women. Because certain societal expectations are associated with both of them and people have to follow that for their whole life unwillingly. I remember there was a boy in my high school who was bullied by people just because of the way he walked and interacted with people. His fellows used very derogatory terms for him and he had to leave the school because of all this mess.

Secondly, there is a movie named "Punjab nahi jaungi" where the lead actress leaves his husband because he slapped her. Sadly, people of her own family oppose her decision and term this thing as normal and…

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I concur that the media industry has a significant influence on people's mindsets, and I also agree with your last remark in your blog that there is a gradual transformation as can see that characters like "Miskeen Ali" in Chupke Chupke are being written.

There is one element, though, that does not jibe with what I've observed so far.

I've watched a number of Pakistani dramas, and what I've noticed is that instead of portraying more "kind, compassionate, responsible, and loyal" men, they've depicted more "rude, cynical, unreliable, and disloyal" men in a very desirable and acceptable manner.

Let it be Humsafar, Zindagi Gulzar hai, Khas, Zan Mureed, Ghar Titli ka Par, Mere Bewafa, Anaa, Khasara, Ishq Tamasha, jalan, Bahsar…

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Unknown member
Dec 13, 2021
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Yes, you have rightly pointed out that portraying men as rude and disloyal makes them more cool and desirable in dramas. While loyal and kind men are usually depicted as weak. Sadly, this is also visible when we look at the behaviour of the audience of these dramas usually because people love to follow their role models.

And secondly, if we look at the titles of dramas that you have mentioned such as "Zan Mureed" and "Mere Bewafa", it sums up the whole misogynistic content of our dramas.

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I would like to mention here "Sadqy Tmhary" another Drama by the same author, Khalil-u-Rehman Qamar, which is reportedly based on his life. The drama portrays a hostile, belligerent male with severe anger management issues as the hero and portrays all his abusive acts as acceptable because he is in love.

Moreover, in my opinion, most of the time, the expected audience for these dramas are females. On the one hand, these dramas are injecting the toxic ideas that women should accept the destructive abusive dominance of men, they portray kind and well-mannered men as unnatural and unacceptable.

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Unknown member
Dec 13, 2021
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The point that the audience of these dramas is mostly female also points out the inequality and lack of access of quality content for female. The problem in Pakistan is that most of the female from middle class or poor households do not have any other source of entertainment. So the only option left for them is to watch TV. Unfortunately, with time the ideas propagated through these dramas become normal for them because Maharishi Mahesh said, "what you see, you become". And as far as Khalil ur Rehman Qamar is concerned, his dramas have been highly problematic as far as toxic masculinity, patriarchy and misogyny is concerned.

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Mindsets are indeed shaped by media. In Pakistan, we often come across issues of masculinity and toxic masculinity. There are also often certain standards and expectations imposed on men in Pakistan where they have to portray themselves in a certain light. For example "men don't cry" is a phrase we often come across in our society but we also often see a shift in this narrative where men are encouraged to show their emotions. However, majority of Pakistani dramas still continue to show men in a specific light where the only time they are expressive of their emotions is when they are angry. Anger is often associated with being masculine in Pakistani dramas and this can be detrimental to the…

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