January 2014 has come and gone and I’ve mulled over how to compile this list. Was 2013 a great year for dramas? No. Was it a bad year? No. It just wasn’t highly eventful. Add to that, we were given dramas with a lot of potential that ended up being disappointments, such as Numm, Dil-e-Muztar Darmiyan, Silvatein and Khoya Khoya Chand. After a lot of thought, I finally managed to compile a list of the 10 best dramas of 2013.
So let’s begin:
1) Zindagi Gulzar Hai
I don’t think it can be argued that Zindagi Gulzar Hai was the best drama of 2013, popularity-wise and story-wise. This show gave us two perspectives on unsatisfied youths. While from completely different backgrounds, both Zaroon and Kashaf came from dysfunctional families and hoped for something better in their future partners. Zindagi Gulzar Hai not only told a tale of two different individuals coming together and working past their differences, but also emphasized the importance of communication in a relationship. Zindagi Gulzar Hai was not only a “cute love story” – it gave the viewer a strong message of love, compromise and trust. ZGH left us wanting more each week. This is why Zindagi Gulzar Hai is my favorite drama of 2013.
2) Aunn Zara
“Oh great, here’s another over-the-top comedy with overacting from Osmaan and Maya Ali.” This was the first reaction of many people when I repeatedly recommended Aunn Zara to them. Unfortunately, many people failed to look past the comedic outlook of the show and notice that this show is so much more. Aunn Zara is a story of two individuals coming together by chance – and in the process, bringing together their crazy, but diversely different, families. Aunn Zara is a crazy, mildly frustrating, cute love story. It is also a story about jealousy, compassion, loneliness, family unity and understanding. Aunn Zara may seem like a comedy at first glance, but is truly a family drama at heart. Aunn Zara kept me hooked from the first episode to the last – and left a void once it ended.
If any show stirred up controversy and debate this year, it would be Kankar. The premise of Kankar was simple: What may seem like a perfect marriage on paper may not be so in reality. The pair of Sikander and Kiran is one that seems like a match made in heaven – until Kiran faces the ugly side of marriage and the expectations of society. As the show progressed, I found that people were split – suddenly, it was “Team Kiran” and “Team Sikander.” While I couldn’t believe “Team Sikander” actually existed, it did and that was our society speaking, the very society that Kiran had to face in this drama. What I loved about this drama was that nothing was black and white. Every action had a back story. Every reaction had a reason. There weren’t any “bad” characters and there weren’t any “good” characters. Everyone had shades of grey. These characters were “real” – these were people you could relate to. If you couldn’t relate to them, you could, at the least, sympathize with them. Kankar also churned out the most memorable dialogues of 2013 (in a drama). The writing cut through our hearts and stayed in our minds. A huge round of applause to Umera Ahmed (and Aabis Raza) for giving us an amazing show that challenged the Pakistani mentality and brought a taboo subject into the limelight.
4) Tanhaiyan Naye Silsilay
“What’s the point?!” “I hate this show! How can they kill off such a main character?!” “Haseena Moin has lost it! I’m boycotting this show!”
After the first episode, I heard these exclamations from my fellow Tanhaiyan fans. Sadly, some of these fans really did boycott the show after the loss of a beloved character. Given, initially, I was really upset about this farewell to Zara, who was more or less the main character of Tanhaiyan. But for those who stuck with the show, we were soon happy to realize that the heart and soul of Tanhaiyan was retained with Tanhaiyan Naye Silsilay. At the end of the day, TNS had all of the sincerity and heart that made us fall in love with the original. All of the returning characters were featured prominently and the new characters added to the show, rather than taking away from older fan favorites. Nothing can be said of Tanhaiyan Naye Silsilay other than this: it’s a beautiful, naturally-scripted, honest effort from Haseena Moin. Not only would I highly recommend it, but if you haven’t seen the original, I would also highly recommend you rewind and watch that one first! =)
Based on “God of Small Things” by Arundhati Roy, “Talkhiyan” was a drama highly ignored in 2013. If Sanam Saeed worked in a commercially lovable “Zindagi Gulzar Hai” in 2013, her “Talkhiyan” could only be described as “art.” These two Sanam Saeed dramas aired practically alongside each other, but were vastly different. One garnered immense appreciation, while the other had a niche audience.
When I first began watching “Talkhiyan,” I wasn’t sure what to expect – but it wasn’t this. The first episode threw me off and almost turned me off. I decided, after the first episode, that this was not the show for me. Fortunately, several weeks later, I picked it up again out of boredom. While the family initially seems completely insane, you become emotionally invested in their world. This drama that revolves around Bibi, Jaanu, Zoya, Jugnu, Mama Ji and Appu seems slow at first glance, but has emotional highs and lows that can pick you up and bring you crashing down in an instant. For the first 10-11 episodes, you’re left wondering “What’s the point?” – but when it dawns on you, you realize there are many: The expectations parents have from their children, the infamous double standard our society holds with men and women, how indifference from parents can affect their children, what effect words can have on another person. We see through Zoya and Jugnu how children imitate and recreate the words and behaviors of adults. These people are emotionally scarred and always searching for meaning in their lives. Appu’s lost love and her resentment towards those who are happy registers with the viewer. We see Jaanu’s male chauvinist behavior that triggers bitterness in Bibi’s heart, even towards her own son. We see Mama Ji’s heartbreak at her dependency and her disappointment in her children. When Bibi finally finds love, the viewer almost wants to start crying, knowing it won’t end well. Each character connects to the audience in some way. There’s something about Talkhiyan cuts through you, makes its mark and leaves you scarred. While emotionally draining, I would whole-heartedly recommend this one.
6) Coke Kahani
If you spent this year complaining about the lack of new and innovative ideas in dramas, you were not watching Coke Kahani. This drama is not only a great change from the depressing love stories and in-law issues, it is also aimed at family audiences. This is a show that families can sit together and watch. Coke Kahani not only has a mesh of great storylines, it is light-hearted, sweet, endearing and full of lovable moments. Every actor contributes and plays their part, but Shamim Hilali Syed Mohammed Ahmed deserve a special shout-out for being the cutest representation of an older couple on screen. To describe Coke Kahani in one word: Refreshing. Highly recommended.
When Mehreen Jabbar and Farhat Ishtiaq come together, you expect nothing short of greatness. Rehaai is nothing less. When the show first began, it threw people into a state of shock at the unexpected subject and realistic cruelty depicted. Many people stopped watching the show out of rage; however, those who stuck with the show witnessed one of the best shows of 2013. Noman Ejaz, Samina Peerzada, Maria Wasti, Danish Taimur and both “little” Kulsoom and “big” Kulsoom were all amazing in their respective roles. Rehaai not only boasted of a great ensemble cast, but also featured these actors in roles worthy of their talent.
The show was true to its nature as a social drama, presented by the Kashf Foundation, but was continuously gripping and engrossing. More importantly, it reinforced the belief that women need to be self-sufficient.
8) Ullu Baraye Farokht Nahi
If there was one drama in 2013 that mentally made me feel unstable, sent chills down my spine and shook me to my core, it was Ullu Baraye Farokht Nahi. With an incredible ensemble cast, including Nauman Ejaz, Saba Qamar, Irsa Ghazal, Yumna Zaidi and Noman Maqsood, this drama offered more than just power-packed performances – UBFN offered insight into a different world.
We’ve seen many dramas over the years, and a handful simply in 2013, about havelis and the lives of landlords (Noor Bano, Dil Diya Dehleez, Numm, Aseer Zadi, etc.). What sets this drama apart is that UBFN focused on the plight of women in these areas, whether it be daughters and sisters of the haveli, the female servants or the local civilians.
The problem with dramas like UBFN is simple: There’s nothing simple about it. The characters are complex, the relationships are complex, the storyline is complex – If I’m to be honest, I had a hard time grasping the goings-on until around episode 12, where I was suddenly terrified by Irsa Ghazal (Aapi) into focusing. But episode 12 onwards, I was transfixed to the screen during each episode. This drama has everything – revenge, hatred, love, remorse, resentment, the supernatural, urban legends, murder, abuse. What can be said about this show is that it requires focus. It is not light-hearted. When this drama finally ended, I was left with tears in my eyes and a heavy heart. That said, UBFN offered one of the best storylines of 2013, incredible performances from the entire cast and a show worth remembering for years to come.
9) Shab-E-Arzoo Ka Aalam
Every once in a while, a drama comes along that is so subtle that it can be seen as “slow.” What we fail to realize is how powerful the performances are and how powerful of a message that drama is presenting us with. That is the case with “Shab-E-Arzoo Ka Aalam.” This show left such a powerful impact on me without my even realizing it. The characters weren’t falsely idealistic or overly “vamp”-like. These characters were human with human emotions and desires.
The relationship portrayed between Dawood and Kiran naturally progressed over the course of the show – we saw attraction turn into a connection and that connection turn into the strong bond of love. The characters are written in such a way that the viewer feels for them, their trials and tests and anticipates their reunion.
I’d recommend this drama whole-heartedly. Subtle, yet beautiful.
10) Halki Si Khalish
Halki Si Khalish told the story of two sisters, Rabia and Rania, and their fate after marriage. While the show tackles some heavy subjects, it’s presented in a light way, so the audience doesn’t feel bogged down. This is a drama that flows in an interesting way and makes for an overall enjoyable experience. Each relationship is shown with a natural progression and the emotions are realistic, whether it be Kamaal with his long lost wife, Khurram with Rabia, Khurram with his mother, Rania and Aamir or even Mamoon and Mumaani. This drama avoids melodrama and instead relies on solid storytelling. A nice, breezy watch!
And that’s it, folks. Those are my top 10 dramas for 2013. Yes, I enjoyed several others this year, such as Sari Bhool Humari Thi, Silvatein, Aik Nayee Cinderella and Bari Apa, but these dramas were lacking in places, which prevented them from making the list (though still enjoyable). There WERE, however, many disappointments in 2013 coming from dramas with high expectations, so keep your eyes open for “The Worst of 2013,” coming soon. =)
I have not included any presently running dramas, such as Shakk, Pyaray Afzal, Ranjish Hi Sahi, Kabhi Kabhi, etc. as they are still running into 2014. Maybe you’ll see them on the list next year!
But for now, happy watching!