Updated: Nov 23, 2021
Recently, Pakistani drama serials took on an initiative to create a drama highlighting mental illness. I admit, it was a good initiative and even though I do not watch many Pakistani drama serials, I watched ‘Ishq Zahe Naseeb’ in order to have a look at Pakistani media achieved this goal.
The play is about a man suffering from split personality disorder where he is a businessman by the day named Sameer and at night he becomes Sameera who is a reflection of a caretaker he used to have. He has a distant relationship with his stepmother and is usually in a bad mood until he is Sameera at night.
What was offensive was that Sameera was shown as an evil personality that led Sameer to kill the women in his life. Even though, the play attempted to show a serious disorder but they failed to show it in the light of normalcy as at the end of the day, mental illness was linked to irrational murdering. Mental illnesses are serious and sensitive things to deal with. For someone going through a disorder, it is important for them to relate to some media characters without feeling like they are a monster who should be banished from society.
More research needs to be conducted on mental illnesses before plays are made around them. An in-depth understanding of psychosis and treatments needs to be done. More often if not always, mental illnesses do not follow a timetable of day and night and psychosis can be triggered any time. The drama also attempted to show a happy ending for Sameer as he did his time in jail, got treatment, and then also got the girl after he got out of jail. However, this may only give the impression that you are unacceptable as long as you have a mental illness and that mental illness is a disease that you have to get rid of, and only then can you achieve happiness.
Pakistani Media needs to do quite some research before diving into a topic that needs to be dealt with extreme care and sensitivity. However, let’s not completely negate these efforts and acknowledge the fact that they saw the need to produce content around mental illnesses which can also be seen as a little step towards progress.
-Aimen Imran Jafri