It’s Friday, Mercury has stopped going in retrograde and everything is going back to normal, except for Pakistani dramas, which will keep scraping the bottom of the barrel to search for sexist content.
It’s hilarious and yet quite terrifying how dedicated Pakistani dramas are to not provide what their audiences actually want: progressive storylines that recognise women as equals, rather than as props. But what currently popular trending dramas like ‘Yunhi’ prove, the best way to get ratings and to keep eyes glued to screens is to keep peddling the same sexist tropes over and over again and proclaim it as the standard content everyone should watch.
‘Yunhi’ began trending on social media this week when the actor playing the female lead on the show, Maya Ali, shared a clip from the latest episode. In it, her character is having an emotional, heart-to-heart with her father (played by fashion designer Deepak Perwani). Judged on performance alone, the scene is definitely tearjerking. However, we made the mistake of unmuting the video and heard the female character discuss how tragic it is for her to leave her father and how happy she is that her mother isn’t alive to see her wedding day.
We should clarify here that Maya’s character is not heading off to war or to a distant land, but is actually getting married and leaving for her new home.
Exactly what magical powers does a yellow mayun joraa hold, we want to ask Deepak Perwani, because of which a woman suddenly becomes a shadow of her past self and leaves behind her old family and friends? Does signing a marriage pact suddenly mean that over night, no woman can come back to her old home, and is now just the wife of the man that she has married?
And most importantly, how is this supposedly tear jerking scene suppose to sit well in a country where women are taught that once they are married, they can never freely visit their families nor can they wear what they want or go where they want? They are not even allowed to escape domestic abuse.
The message that Maya Ali likes, is once more, a terrifying reminder that for Pakistani families, marriages are basically equivalent to exiling women from their parents’ homes. And that for parents, including the dead mother who Maya is glad isn’t alive to watch her get married, the sole emotional and fundamentally important moment is their daughter getting married, nothing else.
If these drama creators need any advice to show a rukhsati that actually makes the audience sob, take notes from ‘Kuch Ankahi’. That drama serial included a wedding scene where the phupoo (aunt) passionately defended women’s right to include protective clauses in the nikkahnama, and prove that women do not become strangers to their own families once they get married. They are still individuals with a personality, and definitely more than just the wives of the men they are getting married to.