Most of the writers take inspiration from true stories but very few of them reveal that a Pakistani drama is based on a true story. Fiction always has some relevance with facts and reality can sometimes be stranger than fiction! There were quite a few recent Pakistani dramas that were either based entirely on true stories or the writers had taken a great deal of inspiration from real-life incidents. Sometimes, all the happenings in a drama are not inspired by actual events but the main theme of the story is linked with something which happened in reality. There are also writers who have been courageous enough to pen down their own stories. Here is a list of relatively recent Pakistani dramas which were based on true stories:
Mubarak Ho Beti Hui Hei
Mubarak Ho Beti Hui Hei was written by Faiza Iftikhar, it was directed by Badar Mehmood and Produced byBig Bang Entertainment. This drama aired on ARY Digital and Saima Noor, Sabreen Hisbani, Sajid Hassan, Ayesha Khan (Senior), Saboor Aly, Syed YorgucTipu, Naheed Shabbir, Marium Ansari played the central roles in the drama. Mubarak Ho Beti Hui Hei’s first half was entirely based on the true story of Faiza Iftikhar’s own mother. It was a tribute to her inspirational mother who fought against all odds to raise daughters who were empowered and enlightened.
The drama serial showed what a blessing it is to have a girl child. Saima Noor played the role of Naheed who was meted out the worst treatment because she did not give birth to a son. Naheed did not let her husband or society dictate to her, she was not a rebel but a mother who did everything she could to ensure that her daughters felt loved and needed. Naheed was one of the most strong female leads we have seen in a Pakistani drama. The writer managed to get across all the messages which she wanted to convey beautifully through characters who were inspiring as well as relatable.
Sadqay Tumhare was written by Khalil-ur-Rehman Qamar, it was directed by Muhammad Ehteshamuddin and produced by MD Productions Channel. This drama aired on HUM and the star cast consisted of big names such as Mahira Khan, Adnan Malik, Samiya Mumtaz, Rehan Sheikh, Farhan Ali Agha, Shamil Khan and Sania Shamshad. Khalil-ur-Rehman has always been known for his bold stories and for not holding back but Sadqay Tumhare was another extreme altogether!
This was Khalil-ur-Rehman’s own story and he made it clear that not a single scene in the drama was added for dramatization. Khalil-ur-Rehman penned his own love story down – a love story that did not have a happy ending! Khalil’s character in the drama was played by Adnan Malik and Mahira Khan played the role of Shano who was the love of Khalil’s life. While receiving an award for the show, Khalil-ur-Rehman Qamar said that a lot of his relatives might feel that he owes them an apology but he did not need the feel to do so! This basically went to show that he was very sure about his version of the story. It takes a lot of guts for a writer to pen his own story like this and then own it completely too.
Rehaai was written by Farhat Ishtiaq, directed by Mehreen Jabbar, and produced by Kashf Foundation & MD Productions Channel. This drama aired on HUM and Noman Ijaz, Samina Peerzada, Saniya Shamshad, Danish Taimoor, Nausheen Shah played the central roles in it. Rehaai was the first project funded partially by Kashf Foundation. It raised awareness about the issue of child marriage which is widely prevalent in some parts of Pakistan.
The writer took inspiration from many real-life stories that the Kashf Foundation had in their record. Kashf Foundation deals with women who are facing oppression and challenges on a regular basis therefore they have wide experience in the field. The writer Farhat Ishtiaq listened to and read the stories of women Kashf Foundation had helped and the outcome was a script that was widely appreciated. This drama also had a radio version which was directed by Adeel Hashmi. The radio version was an attempt by Kashf Foundation to reach out to people in those areas where child marriage is still being practiced. Apart from highlighting the issue of child marriage, this drama also showed how strong women actually are and how they can empower themselves.
The Drama serial Mein Sitara was written by Faiza Iftikhar, directed by Seema Taher Khan and produced by TV ONE. It aired on TV ONE and the cast included big names such as Saba Qamar, Anum Fayyaz, Noman Ijaz, Aisha Gul, Mikaal Zulfiqar, Meera, Hassan Ahmed, Rashid Farooqui. Mein Sitara was a phenomenal play that was based on the lives of actors and directors of the film industry.
Sitara’s character in particular was inspired by one of the most renowned actresses of the film industry. Saba Qamar played the role of Sitara – a poor girl who makes it big in the industry. The play showed what really goes on behind the scenes and how sometimes actresses have to fight many difficult battles at the same time. Mein Sitara was a story of friendship, dreams, love, despair as well as hope! It was an emotional journey that covered 3 decades of the film industry.
Pyare Afzal was written by Khalil-ur-Rehman Qamar, directed by Nadeem Baig, and produced by Six Sigma Entertainment. Pyare Afzal aired on ARY Digital and the cast included stars such as Hamza Ali Abbasi, Sana Javed, Ayeza Khan, Sohail Ali Abro, Firdous Jamal, Anoushey Abbasi, Saba Faisal. Very few people know that the idea for this play actually came from a real-life incident that Khalil-ur-Rehman very often used to narrate to his friends.
In an interview, Khalil-ur-Rehman Qamar shared that while having a conversation with Humayun Saeed, Nadeem Baig, and Yasir from M Group he was telling them about a college friend named Afzal who used to write love letters himself but used to tell his friends that a girl used to send him these letters. Khalil-ur-Rehman caught his friend red-handed once and that is a story he tells everyone since he finds it really amusing. Yasir suggested that he should write a script based on this incident. Initially, Khalil-ur-Rehman said that was not possible since this was just a short incident and nothing more. Later on, on the insistence of Yasir, Khalil-ur-Rehman finally penned the script down. He also shared in an interview that once he was done writing the script, he called his friend Afzal and told him that he was going to be popular not knowing that the drama in fact was going to be a massive hit!
Baaghi was written by Shazia Khan, it was directed by Farooq Rind and produced by Urdu1 – Paragon Productions. Baaghi aired on Urdu1 and it starred Saba Qamar, Osman Khalid Butt, Khalid Malik, Ali Kazmi, Irfan Khoosat, Sarmad Khoosat, Goher Mumtaz, Saba Faisal. Baaghi was one of those very few shows which took inspiration from the life of a social media sensation who was always the center of attention. It was also one such drama that was promoted as a biopic and unlike many other production houses, the makers of this one did not hold back while promoting it as Qandeel Baloch’s story.
However, when the drama aired, the viewers were informed that this was not Qandeel’s actual story but the writer only took inspiration from Qandeel’s life. Saba Qamar played the role of Qandeel Baloch and her entire get-up was inspired by that of Qandeel’s. Since Qandeel’s public life was witnessed by many people in the recent past therefore the viewers remembered watching a lot of what was shown in the drama either on television or on social media. The drama showed the real-life of Qandeel Baloch, one which the producers claimed no one knew about. It showed how she entered the world of entertainment and the way she was used and abused by different people.
Drama serial Khaani was written by Asma Nabeel, it was directed by Anjum Shehzad and produced by 7th Sky Entertainment. It aired on Geo Entertainment and the cast included Feroze Khan, Sana Javed, Saman Ansari, Mehmood Aslam, Rashid Farooqui, Salma Hassan, Qavi Khan, Seemi Pasha. Khaani was another one of those dramas which were based on true stories. The story of the drama was based on a tragic incident that was highlighted in the media over and over again.
It involved the tragic killing of a middle-class young man by the son of a feudal. The real incident highlighted the weaknesses in the system because in the end the rich and influential got away with murder – quite literally! Khaani’s story was inspired greatly by this incident but the way this story was taken forward was different. The end too was poles apart from reality. The makers of Khaani attempted to give people hope while the real-life incident the drama was inspired by gave no such hope. Feroze Khan played the role of Haadi, who was the son of a rich politician and for the longest time was convinced that he was invincible. Sana Javed played the role of Khaani, the sister of the young man Haadi murdered. She refused to give in and fought right till the end.
Ullu Baraye Farokht Nahi
This drama was written by Amna Mufti, directed by Kashif Nisar, and produced by MD Productions. It aired on HUM and the leading cast included Noman Ijaz, Irsa Ghazal, Saba Qamar, Sohail Ahmed, Yumna Zaidi, Omair Rana, Uzma Hassan, Salim Mairaj. Ullu Baraye Farokht is another drama that was based on true stories.
Ullu Baraye Farokht Nahi was a story of lust and revenge. The drama had different tracks which showed how the love for money can destroy relationships and how men in certain rural areas of Pakistan use women to settle disputes. The widespread oppression of women was also highlighted in the drama. The characters and the story were complex and hard-hitting. Noman Ijaz played a negative role in the play, his performance was widely appreciated by critics and viewers. The drama was based on a short story written by Amna Mufti.
Drama serial Titli was written by Samina Ijaz, directed by Ahmed Bhatti, and produced by 7th Sky Entertainment. It aired on Urdu1 and the central cast included Hania Aamir, Ali Abbas, Emmad Irfani, Tauqeer Ahmed, Abid Ali, Saba Faisal, Seemi Pasha. Titli was based on the true story of a girl who loses everything because of her pride and greed.
Hania Aamir played the role of Naila, a beautiful girl who belonged to a rich family but was married into an affluent family. Her husband Ahmed (Ali Abbas) does not come up to her standards of “beauty” and as a result, she never respects or loves him. Some of the characters were sometimes too black and white but otherwise, the drama was interesting. Strong main characters with definite characteristics played by Hania Amir and Ali Abbas superbly were the main reason why Titli wasn’t just another drama that showed problems of marital life. The fact that it was inspired by real-life also made it easy to connect to.
Meri Guriya was written by Radain Shah, directed by Ali Hassan, and produced by Big Bang Entertainment. It aired on ARY Digital and the cast included Mohsin Abbas Haider, Sonya Hussyn, Sania Saeed, Sajjid Hassan, Ayesha Khan (senior). Meri Guriya’s main story was based on the tragic and brutal murders of several little girls and Zainab’s murder in particular.
The drama showed how a psychopath murderer’s mind works and what role the victim’s family can play to ensure that the murderer does not get away with the crime. It also shows how the negligence of the authorities most often is the reason why the murderers never get caught. This drama had some of the most amazing performances. Mohsin Abbas Haider played the role of the serial killer in the show, Sania Saeed and Sonya Hussyn shone in positive roles.
Ruswai was written by Naila Ansari, directed by Rubina Ashraf, and produced by Six Sigma Plus. Sana Javed, Mikaal Zulfiqar, Seemi Raheal, Muhammad Ahmed, Irsa Ghazal, Usman Peerzada, Osama Tahir, Minna Tariq, Shameem Ali, and Adnan Jaffar played leading roles in Ruswai. The writer in an interview shared that the tragic incident which was shown in Ruswai actually happened at Do Darya. A father saved his friend’s daughter while his own daughter was kidnapped.
The main objective of writing this drama was to show what happens after a girl is sent back home by her kidnappers. The attitude of society and even her own family was supposed to be the main issue in the drama. According to the writer, while the news channels show the news, people do not see and never know what goes on in the lives of people who are the victims. In order to meet the commercial needs of the producers, the story went off track for many weeks and in the end, the story was wrapped up in haste.
Inkaar’s script was penned down by Zafar Mairaj, it was directed by Kashif Nisar and it was produced by MD Productions. Inkaar aired on HUM and the leading cast consisted of Yumna Zaidi, Imran Ashraf, Sami Khan, Rehan Sheikh, Noor-ul-Hassan, Munazza Arif, and others. Although the makers of the drama never promoted it as a true story it was clearly inspired by Khadija Siddiqui’s real-life struggles and story. Khadija Siddiqui was stabbed by her class fellow in broad daylight and she fought for many years to get justice.
Inkaar was the story of a young woman who is stabbed by a rich and influential man who thinks he owns her just because she was friends with him for some time. Inkaar had a progressive theme and an important message. It highlighted the importance of consent and showed some positive male leads as well.
Piyari Bitto script was written by Saji Gul, it was directed by Syed Mazhar Moin and it was produced by Musharraf Jaffrey and Naveed Arshad. Piyari Bitto aired on Express Entertainment. Sania Saeed, Atiqa Odho, Samiya Shamshad, Nayyer Ejaz, and Farah played leading roles in the drama. The writer Saji Gul shared in an interview that this drama was based on the story of a family member who had Alzheimer’s disease. Although this person was a male while dramatizing it the main lead was shown as a female. However, the real-life events were left unaltered.
Piyari Bitto promised to spread awareness about Alzheimer’s disease but even with powerful performances by Sania Saeed and Atiqa Odho, the drama failed to impress the viewers. It was stretched and did little in terms of raising awareness about mental health.
Damsa’s script was written by Asma Nabeel, it was directed by Najaf Bilgrami and produced by Shazia Wajahat. Nadia Jamil, Shahood Alvi, Gul-e-Rana, Asiya Alam, Aisha Gul, Eman Sheikh were some of the actors who played leading roles in the drama. Nadia Jamil shared in an interview that Damsa was based on a lot of true stories. Nadia Jamil works closely with children who have been kidnapped or trafficked therefore this was a story that was really close to her heart.
Like many other dramas in this list, Damsa too was a drama that aimed to spread awareness. The drama stayed true to the actual issue it promised to raise, right till the end. The producers tried their best to show the viewers those bitter realities which are unfortunately hidden from many.
Mere Pass Tum Ho
Drama serial Mere Pass Tum Ho was written by Khalil-ur-Rehman Qamar, Nadeem Baig directed it and it was produced by Six Sigma Plus. Humayun Saeed, Ayeza Khan, Adnan Siddiqui, Hira Mani, Shees Sajjad Gul, Savera Nadeem played the central characters in the drama. Khalil-ur-Rehman Qamar often writes his characters and stories based on real-life events. Humayun Saeed and Khalil-ur-Rehman both surprised the viewers when they shared that Mere Pass Tum Ho was based on a true story.
Mere Pass Tum Ho’s story revolved around a married couple. It was the story of undying love and unfaithfulness. This drama became increasingly famous due to the brilliant performances and a story that was bold yet engaging. The writer shared the story of a man he knew who went through what Danish had gone through and he also said that young Rumi’s character was based on his own childhood personality.
Drama serial Dunk has been written by Mohsin Ali Shah, it has been directed by Badar Mehmood and it has been produced by Big Bang Entertainment. It airs on ARY Digital and stars actors such as Bilal Abbas, Sana Javed, Naumaan Ijaz, Laila Wasti, Azekah Daniel, Saife Hassan, Fahad Sheikh, Salma Hassan, Yasra Rizvi, Shahood Alvi, and Kanwal Khan. Dunk’s story raised a lot of eyebrows since it was based on a false harassment allegation which ruins the lives of so many people involved. The drama serial has however proved to be a massive hit.
While replying to the criticism, the producers defended their stance by informing the critics that this story as in fact based on a truly tragic story. This tragic incident occurred in Lahore when a lecturer from MAO College took his own life even though he was cleared of the allegations against him. He also left a suicide note behind in which he stated that he had left his case to Allah. Unlike the drama, in which the professor’s wife stands by his side, this real-life lecturer wasn’t that lucky. His wife left him after the allegations surfaced.
How many of these dramas have you watched? Did you know that these dramas were based on true stories? Please feel free to add to the list!