If you’re chronically online like us, then you’ve heard the phrase floating around on this internet a lot – “written by a woman”.
This phrase is used to describe a male character from a book or a drama who is not toxic or misogynistic. He does not pass degrading remarks about women; instead, he is kind and supportive towards them. Which means he was written by a woman.
There are a lot of beloved characters from our television screens that could fit this description, like the Hot Priest from ‘Fleabag’, Otis from ‘Sex Education’ and King George from ‘Queen Charlotte’. But in Pakistan, can we say that male characters written by women are non-problematic and wholesome?
There are female screenwriters like Nooran Makhdoom and Umera Ahmed who seem to be in a competition to see who can horrify their audience the most with the most unbearable male character.
However, very rarely, women screenwriters in Pakistan have written some of our favorite, wholesome and well-rounded male characters who won audiences with charm and attention to female characters.
Farjaad Bahadur from ‘Fairytale’
Farjaad starts off as a warning flag in ‘Fairytale’ as a grumpy businessman who is dismissive of people unimportant to him, sticks to a strict routine. That means when he and Umeed meet, he comes of as a jerk who dismisses her as ‘spoilt’ and not capable of meeting his standards. However, when he starts falling in love with Umeed, we come to see how much Farjaad is a green flag because of the way he immediately reforms to help empower and never wants to tame or control her. Mr I-can’t-come-to-my-own-birthday-because-I’m-working to following the love of his life around and giving her flowers. He drives to a police station in the middle of the night because Umeed is stuck there, then successfully gets her out of there without complaining? Settles arguments without gaslighting or demeaning Umeed, but instead takes her on a chai date?
Who were we before Sarah Majeed introduced this absolutely wholesome character in our lives? We’re glad we don’t know either.
2 Zain from ‘Tanhaiyaan’
No one can talk about the phrase ‘written by a woman’ without mentioning the beloved writer Haseena Moin, who set high standards for men with her beloved dramas like ‘Tanhaiyaan’ and ‘Ankahi’. A key token of her dramas were the strong, empowered women who took destiny in their own hands, refused to sit around and wail to be saved, and the men in their lives respected their power rather than shunning them. Zain from ‘Tanhaiyaan’ was a beloved male character because he respected Zara’s ambition, was caring and considerate to her sister Suniya, and chose not to impose his love on her but respectfully walk away until she was ready to love him back.
3 Maahir from ‘Doobara’
There is a settled notion within Pakistani dramas that a romance must take place between some balding dude who is a self-declared bad boy and some sheltered, naive girl who is barely in her twenties, who must shift between being a full-time therapist, punch bag and mommy to her lover. But rarely do we see this toxic trope switched and audiences are given a beautiful love story like Mehrunnisa and Mahir’s in ‘Dobara’.
Although he is younger than her, Maahir works hard to prove that despite the setback he receives from Mehrunnisa’s family, he is worthy to be her husband. He works hard to get a job, empowers Mehru to start taking life in her own hands and do the things she was always restricted from doing, never standing in the way of her dreams. Kudos to Sarwat Nazir for giving us this absolute gem of a character
4 Adam from ‘Hum Tum’
Saima Akram Chaudhry already won hearts with ‘Suno Chanda’, but we feel that it was ‘Hum Tum’ that was one of her best works and also her most feminist drama because of how it introduced us to empowered female characters, and men who are more ‘female-centric’. We have women who have impressive careers like working in psychology, chemistry and computer science, but it is the men like Adam (played by Ahad Raza Mir) who take care of the chores around the house, is attentive and kind to his little sister and his elder brother Sarmad is a successful chef, a trait mostly associated with women.