After dinner thoughts on modern television dramas | Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Pakistan Press Foundation

After dinner thoughts on modern television dramas

Pakistan Press Foundation

Drama may open a personal gate to forbidden thought. Subjects like extra-marital relationships, corrupt politicians, consensual sex and non-consensual rape, religious taboos and
cross-generational romance have appeared in these television dramas and have raised hot debates

What is the first thing you do when you get up in the morning? Do you not grab the television remote almost automatically? Nowadays, many people have high definition 3D television sets and the choice of 70 or more channels. Television has brought a brand new scale and intensity to the experience of drama. Television dramas have a profound effect and can change people’s behaviour by giving fractured insights into the understanding of various characters. They influence people’s behaviour and exploit the understanding of humans and human relationships, as they cover the complete gamut of character types and behaviours.

Researchers have found that women who viewed televised dramas about family conflict felt more vulnerable eight weeks after watching the drama and this led to more intra-familial arguments and stress. The impact that dramatised stories have on people’s beliefs and intentions depended a lot on the individual viewers, and not just the message but the recent increase in the number of depression cases among Pakistani women suggests the effect can be there.

The funny thing is that in the years since Lollywood lost its place of prominence, we now have a far more precise sense of television power. The fear that Pakistani movies and current theatre could exert some invisible pull upon the minds of the audience may have haunted its critics, but the industry’s defenders could just as plausibly show that drama on television has exerted social influence at a significant level. With the increased prevalence and influence of television dramas, many researchers have conducted public studies on them. Most studies reveal that dramas have a negative impact on society. However, television dramas have accompanied us for a long time and mirror our culture. They facilitate emotional release and can be of value to our everyday lives

Drama fever is prevalent in our society. Almost every family watches these dramas and many people are even addicted to them. Among people, the common subject of communication and conversation is drama, and, if one has not watched the drama that is being discussed, he or she is effectively excluded from communicating with the others and feels isolated. According to a recent survey, the popular drama view rate in the nation is on average over 40 percent, and some particular dramas have reached 65 percent popularity. As the ‘fever’ for drama is so strong, its influence is enormous.

Dramas have changed people’s ways of expressing emotions and thinking. Sometimes, a drama may open a personal gate to forbidden thought. Subjects like extra-marital relationships, corrupt politicians, consensual sex and non-censual rape, religious taboos and cross-generational romance have appeared in these television dramas and have raised hot debates. Due to such controversies, many sections of the community have become strongly upset with these dramas. Regardless of this negative reaction, one thing is clear: a typical drama has let forbidden issues emerge onto the surface and has let families discuss this in their living rooms. There is no other tool having this kind of impact on society other than drama. It is a common understanding that television dramas are not strictly true but many people delude themselves into believing the opposite. Sometimes viewers even pressurise broadcasting companies and writers not to make their beloved drama characters miserable, and demand a happy ending.

On the contrary, Indian television dramas tend to project a society that is caring and benevolent. The main themes and plots of their shows revolve around issues of family and gender. People learn about their culture and develop purposely crafted and favourable impressions of the country. This awareness encourages viewers to purchase Indian-made products and clothing, and mimic Indian lifestyles, particularly in marriage functions. Indian dramas are generating income not only in East Asia but are subtly promoting negative social and cultural values in our society as well. Why are so many people in Pakistan crazy about Indian dramas? The answer is that they have a similar history and family dynamics when compared to ours.

Pakistanis are interested in dramas depicting psychosocial problems, especially when the story has a connection to their own history. There is a strong relationship between television dramas and image production techniques. Indian dramas have now become a fabric of cultural connection contributing to the misunderstanding of middle-class family problems. Indian dramas have played a far more muted role for both men and women. Although modest, family pressures have influenced women in general to a greater extent than they did men. Young women have externalised their family’s concerns about the potential harmful influence of dramas, so much so that they consciously choose to act in consonance with family expectations and social norms by adopting behaviour that could destroy them.

Nevertheless, the overall impression given by anthropology and sociology literature is that the influence of dramas has widespread effects on society, and that gender and social issues are a particular focal point. Media, as the watchdog of society, has the responsibility of keeping an eye on the social changes in major social institutions and their sub-systems. Exposure to media, particularly television dramas, because of its visual aspect, causes knowledge accumulation and behaviour change among women reflecting the participation of women in decision making, inter-family communication and role negotiation of women at home, which can help in achieving a better quality of life.

The writer is a member of the Diplomate American Board of Medical Psychotherapists Dip.Soc Studies, member Int’l Association of Forensic Criminologists, associate professor Psychiatry and consultant Forensic Psychiatrist at the Huntercombe Group United Kingdom. He can be reached at fawad_shifa@yahoo.com

Daily Times


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