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Old but not forgotten: Top 10 Pakistani dramas to re-watch now

Updated March 13, 2015

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Firdous Jamal, Mehboob Alam and Aurangzeb Laghari in Waris —Photo courtesy: PTV Archives
Firdous Jamal, Mehboob Alam and Aurangzeb Laghari in Waris —Photo courtesy: PTV Archives

We like to say we're going through a 'revival' of sorts when it comes to TV in Pakistan — but lets not forget dramas of yore, that were just as awesome in their day as Humsafar and Zindagi Gulzar Hai are now.

To honour this success, here's a top ten list of some of the classic, old (and by old, we're talking days when there was no channel except for PTV!) but never forgotten dramas that define Pakistani television and have stayed with us forever:

1) Khuda ki Basti (1969)

This is one of the oldest and greatest dramas in the history of Pakistani television. Khuda ki Basti had an unconventional storyline focusing on the prevalent social issues of society, and was telecasted twice (the second time in 1974 at the insistence of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto – it was his favorite play!). To top that, Khuda ki Basti was also introduced on the syllabi of drama academies in Pune, India and around Europe.

Zafar Masud as Nosha with a co-star in Khuda Ki Basti —Photo courtesy: PTV Archives
Zafar Masud as Nosha with a co-star in Khuda Ki Basti —Photo courtesy: PTV Archives

2) Ankahi (1982)

Known for its witty dialogues and the strong, endearing, candid character of Sana (played by Shehnaz Sheikh), Ankahi was quick to reach cult status. It had a star studded cast including Javed Sheikh, Shakeel, Behroz Sabzwri and Jamshed Ansari. Inspired by Ankahi, Bollywood released the movie Chal Mere Bhai in 2000 with the same story line as the drama.

3) Dhoop Kinarey (1987)

Written and directed by two of the most acclaimed women in TV, Haseena Moin and Sahira Kazmi, Dhoop Kinarey is still considered one of the best Pakistani dramas. A fast paced story of doctors working together in a hospital in Karachi, lead actors Marina Khan and Rahat Kazmi quickly became a favorite on-screen couple (the old school equivalent of Mahira Khan and Fawad Khan)

4) Ainak Wala Jin (1993)

The first of its kind, Ainak Wala Jin was a wonderful mix of real life, fantasy and science fiction. A genie from Caucasus Mountains is sent to Earth to get his eyesight fixed and that’s when all the adventure begins! It quickly became a household favourite, as did the characters Hamoon Jadugar, Zakoota Jin and Bill Batori. In fact, the cast was invited to perform in front of Princess Diana and the patients at Shaukat Khanum Hospital when she visited Pakistan in 1996.

5) Tanhaiyan (1985)

Shehnaz Shaikh as Zara in Tanhaiyan
Shehnaz Shaikh as Zara in Tanhaiyan

Another cult classic, this drama was aired multiple times over the years due to its popularity. For the first time we saw two young women (sisters) taking up the traditional role of men – working jobs, running businesses, earning money and making a living – after their parents died and left them in extreme debt. After 27 years (of not getting enough of Tanhaiyan), a sequel named Tanhaiyan: Naye Silsilay was aired in 2012.

6) Alpha Bravo Charlie (1998)

Directed by the acclaimed Shoaib Mansoor, this action and thriller drama was so popular that it set a new rating for Television Rating Points (TRPS) in Pakistan. It follows the lives of three young, happy-go-lucky friends who have just joined the army, and teaches the very important lesson of leading a purposeful and passionate life.

Captain (retd) Abdullah Mehmood who plays Captain Kashif Kirmani (L) is seen along with Shahnaz(R), the leading female role, in Alpha Bravo Charile series —Screengrab
Captain (retd) Abdullah Mehmood who plays Captain Kashif Kirmani (L) is seen along with Shahnaz(R), the leading female role, in Alpha Bravo Charile series —Screengrab

7) Alif Noon (1971)

A story of two friends who are complete opposites – Allan, the shrewd and immoral businessman and Nannha, the innocent and idealistic village man – had everyone hooked. Although a comedy, Alif Noon dealt with serious issues such as fraud, scam and cheating, among others, in Pakistani society.

Rafi Khawar aka Nannah and Kamal Ahmed Rizvi in the sitcom Alif Noon —Photo courtesy: PTV Archives
Rafi Khawar aka Nannah and Kamal Ahmed Rizvi in the sitcom Alif Noon —Photo courtesy: PTV Archives

8) Taleem-e-Balighan (1956)

The greatest tele-theatre to be aired on Pakistani TV, the beauty of this political satire and its brilliant script is that it’s timeless: no matter when and where you watch it, it will always be applicable to the current political scene and will also have you in hysterics. A true masterpiece written by the comedy king Kh. Moinuddin.

The cast of Taleem-e-Balighan —Photo courtesy: dramapakistan.com
The cast of Taleem-e-Balighan —Photo courtesy: dramapakistan.com

9) Parchaiyan (1976)

Parchaiyan was an adaption of the book Portrait of a Lady by Henry James. However, with Haseena Moin’s magic translation and script adaption, the drama is famous even today for its dialogues. Moreover, this was the very first colored drama series to be aired on Pakistani TV!

10) Waris (1980)

Considered one of the most realistic depictions of Pakistan, Waris is a story of a feudal family, their struggles to maintain their land and wealth, and the inter-family differences and tussles that lead to their downfall. Although it had only 13 episodes, drama-watchers remember the streets being deserted at the time it would air.

Firdous Jamal, Mehboob Alam and Aurangzeb Laghari in Waaris —Photo courtesy: PTV Archives
Firdous Jamal, Mehboob Alam and Aurangzeb Laghari in Waaris —Photo courtesy: PTV Archives