Pakistani television industry is an institution that has given rise to superb talent and embraced emerging actors with all its heart. Giving us engaging story lines, character- driven plots and social issues that otherwise shunned by our society, Pakistani drama industry has evolved drastically. Dramas like Udaari, Meri Guriya, Cheekh, Khuda Mera Bhi Hai, Besharam, Digest Writer, Alif, are all dramas with complex plots, outstanding actors and beautiful direction.
Some of the strong female-centric tales coming out of the industry that have stuck with us and deserve all the attention and praise have been listed here. We, at WOW 360 have curated a list of 5 Pakistani female lead characters in dramas that are the epitome of independence, and self-respect, and raising voice against injustice.
1. Uraan (2010)
Uraan is a beautifully written series by Umera Ahmed that is based on the lives of three young women and how their stories become intertwined. The drama raises many important social issues related to women such as rights in marriage, domestic abuse, divorce, professional success etc. The best part is that in this story women stand up for each other rather than tearing the other down.
2. Kankar (2013)
Kankar is another Umera Ahmed classic that talks about domestic abuse and shows a girl standing up for her rights with grace and grit. I love Sanam Baloch in her role as a young confident girl from a humble background but who is well-aware of her rights and especially of her self-respect.
3. Yaqeen Ka Safar (2017)
If you haven’t heard of Yaqeen Ka Safar recently you were probably living under a rock. This drama was a huge hit last year and well-loved for its strong story which included some strong female characters.
4. Sitara aur Mehrunisa (1992)
Sitara Aur Mehrunisa has been a favorite drama for every 80s/90s kid. Anwar Maqsood, Atiqa Odho, Sania Saeed and Sajid Hasan made this one a classic for generations to come.
5. Baraat Series (2009-12)
Bushra Ansari playing Saima Chaudry is one of my most favorite characters out of Pakistani dramas. She is hilarious, confident and unapologetically herself. And so are all the other ladies from the Baraat series. They have problems and issues of their own, but they deal with them rather than moping around. Watch all four in the series: Azar ke Aye Ge Baraat, Dolly Ke Aye Ge Baraat, Takay Ke Aye Ge Baraat and Ainee Ke Aye Ge Baraat.
6. Malal (2009)
Umera Ahmed and Mehreen Jabbar is a combination that always shines especially when the story is set in Mehreen’s beloved New York City. Malal is a story for the modern times that many from our generation will relate to and touches topics such as friends falling in love, finding love/infactuation on the internet and the double standards of society where it’s ok for a man to marry a much younger woman but a woman can’t marry a man younger than her. Zenia is a character I fell in love with. She is charming, confident and oh so graceful even as her heart breaks. Watch this one right away for a Pakistani drama with strong women.
7. Digest Writer (2015)
Saba Qamar is one of my favorite actresses from the recent lot and she plays the character of the main lead in Digest Writer flawlessly. This drama shows the journey of a girl with a big dreams, as she follows her passion of writing and succeeds in getting published, famous and eventually writing for television. This drama also gives great insight into the drama writing process especially for the current dramas in Pakistan that are mostly written by authors who got famous writing for monthly digests for women.
8. Talkhiyan (2013)
Talkhiyan is an adaption of the beloved novel “God of Small Things” by Arundhati Roy. The story is set in the beautiful hills of Murree. We see how deeply ingrained patriarchy is in our society and how it affects individuals. The story also beautifully shows class differences that exist in society and are never much talked about. I highly recommend this drama which is definitely different and stands out.
9. Ankahi (1982)
Sana Murad was a determined lady who wanted to improve the condition of her poor family. The story is hilarious with a train of memorable characters but also explores serious topics and also shows family kinship like no other!
10. Dhoop Kinaray (1987)
How many girls in the 1980s dreamed to become doctors after watching this PTV classic? Each and every character is etched in our memories and I never tire from watching the episodes again.
11. Sange Mar Mar (2016)
Sange mar mar is a story from the remotest parts of Pakistan and will hold your attention with its gripping script and strong characters including the females who stand out due to the strength of their resolve irrespective of their circumstances.
12. Angaan (2017)
I generally pay attention to dramas written by Faiza Iftikhar and this recent one currently running on ARY doesn’t disappoint with its ensemble cast of hilarious and strong characters that entertain equally.
13. Akbari Asghari (2011)
Faiza Iftikhar as writer and Haissam Hussain as a director is a great combination to recreate Mirat-ul-uroos, a classic Urdu story, as a comedy drama. Watch this one for great laughs and to enjoy Fawad Khan in a very different role!
14. Daam (2010)
Daam is a story of friendship, class differences, poverty and determination. Umera Ahmed and Mehreen Jabbar recreate their magic together in this beautiful story about two friends.
15. Udaari (2016)
Udaari was a brilliant series that raised important social issues such as child abuse, women empowerment and respecting artists. The ladies of Udaari are beloved for their brilliant performances.
16. Alpha Bravo Charlie (1998)
Shehnaz from Alpha Bravo Charlie inspired and motivated a generation of Pakistani women to lead their life with purpose and dare to make unconventional decisions. This is a hilarious drama that shows Army life and its challenges.
17. Zindagi Gulzar Hai (2012)
Based on the novel by Umera Ahmed, this drama became a huge hit. I don’t really agree with all the messages in this drama, however it’s an important mention in the list of Pakistani dramas with strong women, since Kashaf was a strong heroine who was confident, determined and inspiring.
18. Dastaan (2010)
Dastaan is a story of the partition of India and Pakistan based on Razia Butt’s novel Bano, and shows the equal role and sacrifice of women in the creation of Pakistan.
19. Dhuwan (1994)
As a teenager I loved watching Dhuwan, an adventure drama on PTV, written by Ashir Azeem. The best part about this story of drug trafficking, double agents and conspiracies? The heroine was a strong character and not just a pretty face, memorably played by Nazli Nasr.
20. Shehre Zaat (2012)
Shehre-zaat is one of my favorite dramas of Mahira Khan as she explores her inner spirituality in this beautiful stories. I also loved the part of her nani played by Samina Peerzada.
21. Durr-e-shehwar (2012)
Durre-e-Shehwar is a lovely reminder that sometimes strong women aren’t the usual corporate or slogan-chanting ones we think of. Strong women come in all shapes and sizes. And Durr-e-shehwar is the story of a strong woman whose power is her patience and grace as she transforms her life and of those around her.
22. Angan tera (1982)
This has to be one of my most favorite dramas to come out of Pakistan where each character is memorable and hilarious. There are serious undertones to the witty lines and each actor contributes in helping Anwar Maqsood present this classic to the world.
23. Do Raha (2008)
Do raha is a brilliant story of true love, jealousy and domestic conspiracies. I feel the tragedy for this drama is that it’s story and various subplots have been copied so much since, that it might not seem original if you watch it now. It’s an amazing drama though and I loved it.
24. Aahat (1995)
Aahat is a drama with a theme of population control and the value of the girl child. Naheed who played Sania Saeed’s friend was a lovely portrayal of a strong woman. She was a great friend, mother, wife and daughter, all while being her brilliant self.
25. Rehaii (2013)
Rehaii is painful to watch I will be honest! It’s funded by the Kashf Foundation and shows how the women come out stronger after adverse life events.
26. Eik Thi Maryam (2016)
This inspiring telefilm was based on the life of Maryam Mukhtar (shaheed), the first woman fighter pilot from Pakistan to give her life in duty. This story gave great lessons is how parents can raise strong girls and is a lovely addition in Pakistan dramas with strong women.
27. Tanhaiyan (1985)
This is one of my most favorite from all the Pakistani dramas with strong women. Marina Khan and Shehnaz Sheikh became the darlings of every Pakistani household with their brilliant portrayal of two sisters who stand together in the face of adversity and the trials of life. Their aunt Ani played by Badar Khalil is also a strong woman who dares to be different. The drama is hilarious and entertaining, with memorable characters.
28. Ehd-e-Wafa (2020)
I love Ehd-e-wafa for the positive messages it has for the younger generation: friendship, loyalty and patriotism. One of the thing which stands out in this drama are the strong women of Ehd-e-wafa. From Vaneeza Ahmed, who plays Saad’s compassionate mother, to Dua who is motivated, brave and determined; All women in Ehd-e-wafa are graceful, confident and kind.
29. Alif (2020)
Alif is a spiritual story that takes you into a world that moves at a slower pace, making this drama not everyone’s cup of tea! The women of Alif are truly inspirational in how they refuse to waste time crying and take full responsibility of their life.
I do want to mention some dramas like Mera Naam Yousaf Hai, Shehzori, Aun Zara and Eik Naye Cinderella that I have heard are brilliant but haven’t watched yet to put on this list. Jackson Heights was another amazing drama with great lead characters, showing the realities of immigrant life in America, however I didn’t put it on the list since it dragged too much in the middle.
And Of course I can’t claim to have watched every drama that was made, so if you have more for the list please do share!
Which drama character is your favourite? let us know in the comments below.
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