Stereotypical Representation of Senior Actors in Pakistani Media: A Sad Truth
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The Pakistani drama industry is blessed with some very talented senior actors. However, they are reduced to performing the same, repetitive parent roles.
Recently Asma Abbas raised an important issue in an interview. In Pakistani dramas, you would always spot senior actors on the sidelines. They are rarely under the spotlight and always playing similar roles. Most Pakistani dramas highlight the stories of the younger generation. There are hardly any dramas or movies that tell the story of the middle-aged or the senior citizens of Pakistan.
Limited Roles for Senior Actors
The most common roles senior actors get in the Pakistani dramas are of parents. They are either worried about their children’s marriages or destroying them. The spotlight is always on the younger actors and actresses. Women are either shown as evil, conniving Saas or as naik mothers spending their last days praying for the welfare of their children.
Fathers, more often than not always die during the middle of the dramas. Their role is to establish a plot point for the main character’s story arc. Whether it’s a heart attack because the daughter eloped, or a sickness that brings the children to the streets, fathers in Pakistani dramas are usually fragile beings.
For senior actors, there is not much variety to practice their craft on. That is unfortunate considering so many Pakistani actors and Pakistani actresses such as Bushra Ansari, Qavi Khan, Firdous Jamal, and others did much better work during the peak of the Pakistani drama industry than the new-age actors have ever done.
There is also the problem of how so many Pakistani actors and actresses stop getting important roles as soon as they stop looking young. The senior Pakistani actresses particularly suffer due to this media’s obsession with the young heroines.
Have you ever thought parents in Pakistani media are pretty different from your real parents? And why exactly are senior actors always playing Maa and Baap roles? There’s much more to middle-aged citizens of the country that can make for some very interesting stories. A lot of people would be able to relate to the stories with senior actors given the main roles.
For once we would like to see a drama that doesn’t stereotype middle-aged and senior citizens of the Pakistani community. We all have seen heroes around us. There are people who continue to make a difference in society irrespective of their ages. There are plenty of stories out there so why not bring them to screens?
Pakistani media needs to explore many other genres than the typical soap operas. They can make biographies, historical fiction, horror, or even tragedies.
The Pakistani senior actors have so much more to offer to the industry. The drama writers should create stories that can give them a chance to show their talent. With so many brilliant writers out there, it is surprising how the stories in Pakistani dramas only revolve around weddings. There is also the question of how displaying the same stereotypical roles of parent can affect the thousands that tune in to watch Pakistani media.
In a society where older women tend to think their lives are finished after they marry off their children or after their husbands die, showing such stereotypes in media does more harm than good. Age is just a number, and enforcing the senior citizens to become mere shells of their powerful selves after they hit a particular age, is not empowering. In fact, it has been known to cause more problems, such as depression, loss of will to live, and degenerative health issues.
Don’t restrict your parents or grandparents to the four walls of the house, even if you are worried about their age. Let them travel. Let them enjoy their hard-earned retirement. Encourage them to fulfill all their dreams and wishes. And that is exactly what our media needs to portray as well.