As you’ve all figured out by now, I absolutely adore Pakistani dramas. They’re brilliantly written, and more often than not I find myself dreaming of many of the Pakistani male characters. However, because of the overarching and unfortunate misogyny that has bedeviled the country, our dramas usually stem from reality. And by reality, I mean keying in on men and crafting protagonists that have traits of discrimination and prejudice against women – whereby we mostly now tend to see male characters that too display such characteristics, even if they’re not meant to be antagonists.
Very few male characters have displayed dissimilar and rare parallels in dramas, for example, Qasim from ‘O Rungreza,’ both Behroze and Suhaib from ‘Diyar E Dil’ or even Daniyal (and Dr. Asfy) from ‘Yakeen Ka Safar.’ However, these male characters proved to be anomalies, and even protagonists like Zaroon from ‘Zindagi Gulzar Hai’ or Haider from ‘Besharam’ exhibited dapples of contempt against women.
I feel like we need more Qasims, Daniyals, Behrozes, Suhaibs, Daniyals, and Asfys. These days I’m binge-watching lots of shows, both Pakistani (as per the norm) and American ones – in particular, ‘Grey’s Anatomy,’ so my expectations of men on-screen at first became a bit frazzled, but then a moment of clarity dawned on me.
Watching ‘Grey’s Anatomy,’ I found myself absolutely in love with the men on the show (and NOT just for their stunning looks)
They might be distorted versions of anything remotely human, and yes might be a little too perfect, however, the way they conduct themselves is truly something I wish our Pakistani male characters to begin to exude on a more profound level. I’ve keyed in on three doctors; Derek Shepherd, Mark Sloan and Owen Hunt as examples. So here’s what I feel we need to see more of in our Pakistani dramas.
Optimism was what most of the Grey’s Anatomy men believed in, and they continually thrived on it
Derek Shepherd would always say “it’s a beautiful day to save lives,” even on the days when life itself had torn him apart. He was soft-spoken in nature, with immense respect for whoever came before him in both demeanor and etiquette.
It’s OKAY to JUST be friends with the opposite gender, something a majority of our dramas frown upon
Grey’s Anatomy had a catch-phrase coined by Meredith; “we all need a person.” That person doesn’t have to be someone you’re romantically involved with; it can, but it could also be your bestie, who by the way does NOT have to be the same gender as you.
They would always stand up for what was right without so much as a thought
With zero hesitation, you’d often find Derek, Mark or Owen continually fight for what’s right and doing whatever they pleased, regardless of who they were in an altercation with. They wore their hearts on their sleeves, with the term ‘log kya kahenge’ unknown in their jargon and doctrine on life.
Derek, Mark, and Owen all were never afraid to show emotion
Alongside anger, I mean tears and heartbreak and stripping themselves to their very core, oblivious to who the audience was. They were not afraid to cry, nor were they afraid to express how they truly felt, something I feel our Pakistani male characters tend to shy away from.
These male protagonists showed us that you either go big or you just go home son
If you love someone, you do whatever you can for them. Because if Grey’s Anatomy taught me one thing, it taught me that life is far too short to go about not being truthful. I don’t mean huge-ass parties, I want more romantic and innovative ways for our Pakistani male characters to show the ones how much they love them. A simple dialogue simmered in honey would suffice. Just something NEW needs to be done.
Defend the woman you love, and defend her intelligence AND honor
If your woman is career-focused, then be her backbone in it. Many times I’ve been an unfortunate witness in most dramas where women have to fight to simply study (the only example I can think of right now being Jia from ‘Suno Chanda’ who wants to go abroad to study).
It’s okay to hurt and be vulnerable around those you’re close to
I feel our male characters often tend to bottle up their emotions, and only venting out in a more negative way around those they love. Opening up, letting your guard down and having a weak moment makes you nothing short of a man. Derek, Owen, and Mark continually were emotional wrecks, and they sought help. Kudos to Dr. Asfandyar from ‘Yakeen Ka Safar’ who in the latter stages of his life post his brother’s death, showed tremendous emotion that we had long been suffering a drought of,
Women are your equal, so learn from the Grey’s men and swallow your pride and deflate your ego
Too often we see Pakistani male protagonists in situations where they immediately mark themselves as superior, reigning over women, be it their mother, sister or wife. There’s a point in Grey’s Anatomy where Derek’s sister arrives at Seattle Grace Hospital and is incredibly fierce and remarkably confident (she’s a doctor too). Derek’s smile says it all; he’s proud.
They were never afraid to express how they truly felt to their bros, and long meaningful talks (men with men) was always refreshing to see
“She’s not a midlife crisis. She’s the real thing.” Derek was proud of how much he loved Meredith. Mark eventually mirrored this, and continually confessed his love for Little Lexie too.
They were all confident, each to their own profession, but it never let them garner leeway to disrespect anyone
They were beautifully and rightfully confident, but never in a cynical stance. They admitted to often “hav[ing] a reputation for arrogance” but never let it corrode their respect towards others.
Derek, Mark, and Owen NEVER lost the human touch, even in the direst of situations
You’d barely see them angry, and even on the days they were, they’d never even think of hitting their significant others (something we’re all prone to watching on our own tellies, with men raising their hands at their women thereby losing that exact human touch). They weren’t afraid to be soft.
All three doctors always admitted to their flaws, in particular, Owen Hunt who knew he was troubled after he returned from the Iraq war
He was determined to fix himself and continually fought against his demons, never hiding and always proclaiming his imperfections, making him all the more human.
There was always a sense of realism between Derek and Meredith because they understood each other
Love is complicated, and Grey’s Anatomy showed us how two very different people fell in love, and understood each others’ wirings, so much so that everything was an easy breeze. They knew how their life was, and how their relationship functioned, so for their vows, they changed the game and promised each other all that they could give one another.
What are your thoughts? Do you feel we need a slight change in the way Pakistani men are depicted on-screen?