Perhaps the biggest milestone for Pakistan’s television industry this year was the launch of Zindagi TV in India that not only introduced Indian viewers to popular Pakistani dramas but also marked a new beginning in the peace process between the two nations. Without a doubt, it has been the overwhelming success of Zindagi Gulzar Hai and Humsafar that opened new horizons for Fawad and Mahira in Bollywood and expanded their fan base beyond borders. The launch of Zindagi TV not only had regular Indians fall in love with short, sweet stories from Pakistan, leading to an Urdu revival as many pointed, but also had many a Bollywood star hooked on to their TV screens – some even suggesting that Pakistani dramas are far better than Bollywood films.
While Fawad Khan’s emotional rollercoasters dominated India, it was Faysal Qureshi’s Bashar Momin that was trending on this side of the border. After a lot of hue and cry over the invasion of Turkish dramas, Bashar Momin came as a welcome answer to stiff foreign competition with its production quality. The TV serial went down in history as the most expensive drama to be produced in Pakistan, bringing big names like Nabila and Ahmed Bham from the world of fashion on one platform – something that has never been done before in TV serials.
However, while these dramatic plays upped the standard of TV industry at home, it was Haroon Rashid’s animated series Burka Avenger that gave us more recognition than we could have asked for on the global stage. A cartoon targeted at girl empowerment and education, Burka Avenger was recently awarded the International Gender Equity Prize at the Prix Jeunesse International Festival as well as the award for the Best TV Show at the prestigious Asian Media Awards. Haroon’s pet project has also been nominated for the International Emmy Kids Awards, the results of which will be announced by February 2015.
2014 also saw revolution in reality television in Pakistan as international formats made their way into the country. Sarmad Baig became the country’s first-ever Pakistan Idol after our neighbour had been running the series for a decade. We were quicker to adopt Masterchef and launched the first season of MasterChef Pakistan to a great response from the audience. Young chef Ammara was crowned Pakistan’s first MasterChef and the three judges put up such an engaging show that it recently got nominated for Best Adaptation of an Existing Format Award by the Asian Television Awards. Come 2015, we say ‘more power to TV!’