The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulation Authority (PEMRA) has issued a notice to the makers of the drama Udaari that is currently being aired on Hum TV Network.

Set in divisions of rural and urban Punjab, Udaari is a play that highlights the struggles of a poor family that sings and dances for a living (Sheeda, Meera and Jaazay) and a well-to-do group of friends (Arsh, Farwa and Mili) who have a band and want to audition for a TV competition. Another major plotline that is in the play is what seems to have irked certain pious elements in our society. One of the families in the rural set up, Sajjo and Zebo (mother and daughter), have a new man in their family. Sajjo (Samiya Mumtaz) remarries a man named Imtiaz (skillfully portrayed by Ahsan Khan) - who initially is kind to her and her daughter - but he begins to make unwanted sexual advances towards Meera (Urwa Hocane), Sajjo’s neighbor’s (Sheeda) daughter. In the next episode (episode six) Imtiaz turns his advances towards his young pre-pubescent daughter. It seems that this was all a bit too much to take for the ghairat brigade.

We constantly see regressive and horrifyingly misogynistic dramas being aired on different channels of Pakistan - it is rare and heartwarming to see that people actually wanted to make a drama that highlighted such important issues in Pakistan. This is one of the best ways, actually to highlight such sensitive dilemmas within family members. Sexual harassment and crimes against women are critical and worrying discussions that rarely ever take place. The arts and entertainment industry often fails to accurately depict stories and/or send positive messages through its protagonists.

What Udaari does is incredibly brave. Ahsan Khan who is a veteran actor known for his sweet boy good looks chooses to play the villain because he understands the importance of highlighting child abuse. We see Hum TV battling with show-cause notices - because it stands with the message that Udaari is projecting. Once the word of the notice got around, many people tweeted and messaged support for Udaari - which was wonderful to see. 

As a fan of Udaari, and as a clinical psychologist, this is what I had to say. Hope you guys agree!