With 2022 coming to a close, many current dramas are also coming to an end, bringing forth a new wave of shows set to launch this December and January. New launches give Pakistani drama viewers a lot to look forward to as they sample different shows to see which ones “click.” The promos of “Hook” have gone on air, a show starring Faysal Qureshi, Saima Noor, Hina Dilpazeer and Kinza Hashmi in lead roles. The story has been written by Shagufta Bhatti and directed by Shahid Dogar.
The first teaser shows a carefree Kinza Hashmi sprinting through the rain until a lavish car pulls up, Faysal Qureshi emerging and grabbing Kinza Hashmi by the wrist – clearly against her will. In the next promo, we see Faysal Qureshi arguing with his wife, played by Saima Noor, over their age difference and how he was forced to marry an “older woman” out of family obligation. Watching these two promos, I was struck by one immediate thought – “is this Muqaddar 2.0?” The storyline appears to be very much the same with only the female lead being exchanged. All of this aside, the casting itself is what left me, as an audience, thinking.
Watching Saima Noor being taunted about her age had me furrowing my brow and prompted a quick google search which confirmed my suspicions – assuming the ages on google are accurate, Saima Noor and Faysal Qureshi are not more than 5 years apart in age. Telling the story of an older woman and a younger man has been done before. We’ve seen it in “Yeh Mera Deewanapan Hai” with Saima Noor and Junaid Khan with appropriate casting. We’ve recently seen it in “Dobara” with Hadiqa Kiani and Bilal Abbas Khan, yet again with appropriate casting. However here, the casting seems to be pushing it a bit. This sort of casting choice is also made in the currently-airing “Agar,” a beautiful show about three sisters going through different circumstances. Juggan Kazim plays the older Annie, a girl who did not get married “on time” and is now past marriageable age. She is approached by a younger man, played by Junaid Khan. Junaid Khan is an excellent actor, but it’s difficult to overlook the fact that Junaid Khan and Juggan Kazim are the exact same age.
To make matters worse, Hina Dilpazeer is cast as Faysal Qureshi’s mother and, yet again, Hina is only 6 years older than Faysal. This is not something new for Pakistani dramas. Young women are often cast in mother roles shortly after they’ve outgrown lead actress roles. While watching “Tamanna” a couple of years ago, I exclaimed in shock after seeing Haroon Shahid playing son to (the young) Javeria Abbasi. This only confirms the thought that the shelf life of an actress is much more limited for a woman than it is for a man in the Pakistani entertainment industry, which is a shame for an industry that has always prided itself on telling down-to-earth, relatable, gritty stories about characters from different walks of life. Is this the worth of a woman? At the end of the day, is this the message we are passing on to young South Asian women – and older ones: Once a woman is no longer young and attractive, she no longer has any value or significance in the industry (or otherwise)?
To be clear, this is not an analysis of the show “Hook” itself. The show has yet to air and undoubtedly has a fabulous cast. The show could potentially be a good one and perhaps all of my concerns will be addressed. For all we know, maybe “Hook” is, in fact, “Muqaddar 2.0” seeking to right all the wrongs of “Muqaddar.” Is it possible? Certainly. This is more of an analysis on women in the industry and the casting choices that are made. It’s time to think about this and stop aging our actresses unnecessarily, forcing talented women to play mother roles and roles of the “older woman” while their male peers continue romancing heroines 20 years younger. We can do better. We should do better.