A soaring hit of its time, the Pakistani satirical drama Aangan Terha threw shade at the political landscape and governance of the 1980s. Featuring Bushra Ansari, Salim Nasir, Shakeel Saab, Durdana Butt and Arshad Mahmood in lead roles, the Qaiser Farooq-helmed project was penned by Anwar Maqsood. Several decades later, the renowned scriptwriter weighs in on the concept behind the 12-episodes-long serial. “The project happened during Ziaul Haq’s regime,” he said while speaking to Dubai-based journalist Mahwash Ajaz. “Ten to fifteen dance academies were shut down everywhere including Kathak schools and the PIA Arts Academy. There was this boy – my friend, who performed at the latter and danced really well but eventually took a hit when the institution shut down,” added Maqsood.
He recalled approaching his friend soon after and asking him what else he could do besides dancing, to which he replied saying he could only cook but was not willing to work for someone unless it would be kept a secret. “His story of being a classical dancer and losing his work inspired me to write Aangan Terha,” stated Maqsood, while speaking about Nasir’s character in the drama, in which he played the role of a servant, Akbar, who used to be a dancer, before being hired as a servant by a retired Civil servant, played by Shakeel. “All five characters were heroes of the drama and I gave all of them equal opportunities. Some of them would get upset and wanted their role to be bigger,” he quipped.
Aangan Terha has been re-telecast on Pakistan Television 27 times. “It was playing in every home in India when I visited earlier. Their children imitate the actors and show it to me,” shared Maqsood, adding that Dawar Mahmood and Yasir Hussain’s re-enaction of the characters for a play was nothing short of brilliance. The ace writer then spoke about Asif Raza Mir’s role of a thief in Aangan Terha. In one of the last scenes, Mir barges into on-screen couple, Ansari and Shakeel’s house to rob them.
However, things take a turn when the duo decides to adopt Mir and feed him, with Ansari’s character even shedding light on the importance of prayer when the call to Azaan is about to happen. The couple eventually take him on as the son they never had before. When asked whether this particular scene had a political meaning to it, Maqsood laughed saying, “It can be interpreted in any way. But during the era of Zia’s regime, everyone was forced to go to the mosque. Namaz and religion is something personal and so we wanted to show that. Namaz and religion is not about showing off.” Is political satire really dead now? “Times have changed,” said the Loose Talk host and writer, “everything has changed. Drama has ended. It’s been destroyed. I’m not able to see dramas of today’s times anymore. They have 40 to 45 episodes and explore affairs, violence and cheating, which is typical of Indian dramas. They don’t focus on heroes either and are all over the place.”