It’s that time of the year to recap some of the best – and worst – of Pakistani dramas in 2023. While we wait for 2-3 shows to wrap up, instead of diving straight into the best of 2023, let’s begin with another category altogether. Let’s begin with the greatest disappointments. That’s right – disappointments. To find a place on this list, these dramas had to have come with expectations either due to the cast, writer or director – and managed to let audiences down…..specifically this viewer. Let’s dive in!
10) Working Women
At the number ten spot is Working Women. Written by fan favorite Bee Gul, and directed by the immensely talented Yasra Rizvi, “Working Women” ranks lower on the list, because it did strive to tell a realistic story about the scrutiny women face in Pakistani society and the attitude toward women trying to build a life for themselves – and for the most part, it kind of succeeded? Unfortunately, the foundation of the show seemed weak with all these girls ending up under Anusi’s roof under the most bizarre circumstances, all within 48 hours, making it a difficult story to digest. We expected better.
At the ninth spot is Idiot. The premise of “Idiot” started off strong – those who live against the grain, choosing to follow ideals rather than social norms or the expected ways of the world are often seen as an “other,” individuals who are considered unstable or abnormal. “Idiot” follows the life of one such individual, Gulzar, played by Ahmed Ali AkbarAt some point, even the most individualistic, idealistic people have to come down to earth and follow the ways of the world – or pay a price for it. But what is that ultimate price? Ultimately, while “Idiot” had a strong first half and boasted of some great performances, particularly by Ahme Ali Akbar, the show as a whole does not leave the intended impression at the end. In the latter one third of the show, it simply began to drag and feel more like preaching. “Idiot” is a show that should have been one to love for the ages, but by the end, it was barely likable.
8) Chand Tara
The eighth spot is taken by Chand Tara. Gone are the days when audiences will wait seven to eight episodes for a drama to pick up. While “Chand Tara” had a lot of buzz surrounding it due to Danish Taimoor and Ayeza Khan’s on-screen pairing and while yes, technically it was a successful, hit show, it did not leave a long-term impression nor was it particularly enjoyable to watch. “Chand Tara” wound up being less of a love story and more about plotting against relationships, a show that can ultimately be described as progressively regressive.
7) Ehraam E Junoon
What can one say about our show at number seven, a show which promoted female stalkers? Ehraam E Junoon is a love story about how a harasser and a woman who cannot take no for an answer ultimately wins over her “love.” The premise follows Imran Abbas’ character who consistently says no to Neelam Muneer’s character and is in love with someone else – but ultimately, he listens to his stalker and his greedy family and accepts the “love” of his obsessive stalker. There’s nothing redeeming about this one.
6) Tere Ishq Ke Naam
The fourth spot is filled by “Tere Ishq Ke Naam.” While some shows are not immediately appealing, this Zaviyaar Nauman Ejaz and Hiba Bukhari show gained popularity through its story and presentation – and most importantly, Jamal Shah as Meher Ali. However, this so-called love story lost the plot completely, bringing its lead characters together only at the end and never really building any foundation for love at all. This love story wound up being hollow.
5) Tere Bina Mein Nahi
At the fifth spot is “Tere Bina Mein Nahi.” Sonya Hussyn is a selective artist and so, when she signs a show, one automatically expects quality – or at least something different. Telling the story of Noor and Murtaza, childhood sweethearts pulled apart by their differences in ambition and life goals, things take a turn for the worst when Murtaza marries Noor’s best friend, Tehniyat. What started off as promising turned into an absolute mess. This is what happens when a show does not have a clear identity or recognize what it wants to be. “Tere Bina Mein Nahi” could have been a sensitive story about love, ambition and moving on, but instead turned into a toxic story of cheating and a man getting away with bad behavior.
4) Sirf Tum
We’re inching towards the top and at the fourth position is Sirf Tum. Fresh off the success of “Fairytale,” the dated “Sirf Tum” had Hamza Sohail and Anmol Baloch fans excited, the icing on the cake being Hamza Sohail’s reunion with “Badshah Begum” co-star Hiba Aziz. To say this was the stuff Star Plus dramas are made of would be an understatement – and may even be undermining Star Plus dramas. “Sirf Tum” lacked logic from the first episode and honestly left us wondering “What’s the conflict?” – and this conflict less drama dragged on for 48 episodes.
At the third spot is Wabaal. Have you ever watched a show and wondered what exactly inspired the incredibly talented cast to sign the dotted line on this particular story? Despite starring Sarah Khan, Talha Chahour, Shagufta Ejaz and other talented actors, “Wabaal” falls into this category. “Wabaal” is a show, essentially, about money-lending on interest and how a young girl, Anum, falls into this trap as she follows her dreams for a more luxurious life. It’s possible that it sounded good on paper, but on-screen, it was an absolutely boring disaster.
2) Pyari Mona
In second place, inching towards the top, is Pyari Mona. What started off as a promising, fresh, bright show about a woman judged for her appearance, “Pyari Mona” even effectively tackled mental health, gaslighting and verbal abuse. Starring Sanam Jung and Adeel Hussain in lead roles, this show quickly spiraled out of control, losing the plot and, somehow, winding up as yet another show focusing on forced marriage, cheating and how a wife must forgive her husband. This was a complete write-off in the end.
1) Mujhe Pyaar Hua Tha
The absolute crown prince of disappointments, at the number one spot is, undoubtedly, Mujhe Pyaar Hua Tha. When Wahaj Ali and Hania Amir are signed for a show together, one expects sparks to fly. One expects that there’s a script worthy of their talent, a script that will bring out their chemistry. One expects that the direction will take the show on a journey, utilizing the brilliant OST to the best of its ability. “Mujhe Pyaar Hua” failed on all accounts. It had a terrible story, pitiful acting with the actors crying in corners for no rhyme or reason and an absolute overuse of the OST, which did not fit the storyline at all. Moral of the story: If you do not have a script ready, do not expect the actors to carry your weak show, because they cannot.
Which other shows this year left you thoroughly disappointed?