There is undoubtedly a dearth of resilient, successful and content women on the small screen; all we get to see are crying women, who are suffering and are dependent on the men in their lives for their needs. Even when a female character comes across as strong and independent in the beginning, she ends up surrendering to circumstances (case in point: Maya Ali in Mann Mayal and Sanam). We either have women who are too bold to be acceptable by society (Sassi in O’Rangreza, Fouzia in Baaghi) or those who are strong but mostly villainous (Naeema in Khamoshi, Najeeba in Baba Jani).
What is often missing on television is the presence of women who would set examples for viewers, who would have their strengths and weaknesses, who would know how to balance their emotions, what to comprise on and when to take a stand. Some small screen characters that stood out in this regard last year include Khaani in Khaani, Sofia in Nibah and Ayera in Khudgarz. Fortunately, there has been a changing tide as we see more of that this year; we have multiple strong female characters that can be caught on-air presently. They are realistic, relatable, and above all, they make sense.
This Women’s Day, Instep celebrates these inspirational women on television, hoping that there will be many more in the future…
Chammi (Sajal Aly) in Aangan
The versatile Sajal Aly as Chammi in Ehteshamuddin’s period drama Aangan sets an example for young women to always hold their heads high. She is unafraid, she is confident and has the guts to stand by her views, even if the entire world is against her. The latest episode that aired on Thursday featured her cheering for Muslim League, despite knowing that her paternal uncle she resides with is a staunch supporter of Indian National Congress. She didn’t pay heed to anyone stopping her neither was she bothered about her uncle’s anger. She gathered a group of kids in the locality and chanted slogans in favour of Muslim League.
Earlier in the play, we saw that though she is heartbroken, given that she is in love with Jameel (Ahad Raza Mir) who doesn’t reciprocate, but she doesn’t let her sadness reflect on her face.
Sohana Begum (Shamim Hilaly) in Dil Kiya Karay
A dream grandmother to have in a Pakistani household, Shamim Hilaly as the progressive Sohana Begum in Mehreen Jabbar’s Dil Kiya Karay is the sanest member in the family who understands and connects with each and everyone in the house. From her grandchildren to her daughter in laws to her son, she lets everyone talk their hearts out and is always there to advise and guide them whenever they are in trouble.
An educated and sensible woman, she doesn’t support the wrong person even if it is her own son; she would encourage her daughters in law to think about themselves and do what makes them happy. Despite losing two of her sons, she has not turned into a bitter old woman neither she plays the victim card; instead, she does everything to keep the family ties intact. This is the kind of woman we need to see more of.
Instead, she stays very strong and takes active part in all the activities related to Jameel’s engagement happily. She would hate if anyone pities her and would rather wear a fake smile on her face.
Noori (Iqra Aziz) in Ranjha Ranjha Kardi
Iqra Aziz as the fearless Noori (Noor Bano) in Ranjha Ranjha Kardi is the epitome of dignity and courage. Despite coming from very low social strata, she has a concrete set of values and is someone who would never let anyone take advantage of her weaknesses. Instead, she is bold enough to take a decision for herself and stick to it, despite unfavourable circumstances that force her to give in.
That’s not it. What makes her character convincing is the fact that she is not perfect in entirety. She has her flaws and is no angel; in fact, is very human. She commits a number of mistakes; she steals jewels to save her love interest when he was behind bars, she leaves her house when her parents were marrying her off to the wrong person, etc. All of this makes her a human and hence, relatable.
She ends up marrying a mentally challenged person but once she decides to put up with him and let go of her reservations, she gives her 100 per cent to the relationship – not just with him but his entire family.
She looks after her husband’s needs, takes care of her mother in law, confronts her uncle in law for deceiving the family, gives tuitions to kids in the area and much more.
Mannat (Saba Qamar) in Cheekh
Married to her close friend’s brother Shayan, Mannat – essayed by the very talented Saba Qamar – sets the bar for how a strong woman should be. Her husband works outside the country while she resides with her in-laws in Pakistan. She takes care of everyone’s needs and takes up all the responsibilities of her friend and sister-in-law’s engagement. However, she loses her best friend, Nayab, played by Ushna Shah, who is harassed and killed by her brother in law on the day of engagement. Upon learning the truth, she is unable to let go of it despite that it may lead to separation from her husband, given that it is his family whose reputation is at stake.
In the latest episode, she files an FIR against the wicked Wajih and puts him behind bars despite opposition from the entire family including her mother. She has taken a huge step so as to provide justice to the victim and her family and punish the offender. Mannat did not fear the consequences; she listened to her heart and opted for what was the right thing to do.
Hamida (Asma Abbas) in Ranjha Ranjha Kardi
Mother of a mentally challenged young man Bhola, Asma Abbas as Hamida, who raises him all alone after she loses her husband, symbolizes strength and hope. It is a huge challenge to raise a son with unusual needs and demands and put up with societal pressure at the same time but she does it with grace and conviction. Despite being old, she takes care of him and bears all his tantrums without complaining.
She has been the closest to him since childhood but doesn’t show any possessiveness when he gets married and prioritizes his wife over anyone else. She is rather very happy to see the two together with each other. Initially, she had reservations towards the girl he is married to, given that she was unaware of her family background, but when she finds out how sensible and caring she is, she takes care of her happiness and never lets her down.
Where television is full of evil mothers in law who would plot against their daughters in law and would be jealous to see them close to their sons, Hamida as Bhola’s mother comes across as a breath of fresh air.