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How to write a TRP winning drama

Idiot boxForget the Panama Papers, we unearthed a very telling document about the state of television dramas. While it is an open secret that dramas are written only to gain TRPs, our investigation revealed that following this formula is guaranteed to create a TRP haven that channels can continue to use, abuse and re-use.

Driven by profits and reinforcing regressive ideologies, channels cast a blind eye to all or any sense of commitment to a storyline and are laughing all the way to the bank, possibly in Panama.

How to write a TRP winning drama

Begin with the main actors. Everything else leads on from there.

Main protagonists

Hero: Sketch character. Male. Tall, dark fair and handsome. Must be incapable of making a cup of chai, picking up a plate, ironing his clothes or do anything that women can do for him. Preferably spineless or with a malleable spine that his mother or other assorted relatives can easily bend and shape.

Current trends – Rich heir to more riches with a bleeding liberal heart (See:Diyar-e-dil,Tum Kyon Piya, Tum mere Kya ho) most popular trend – stalkers and thugs (See Gul-e-Rana,Dil lagi)

Must have tough veneer pasted over heart of gold. Can either be perfect to a fault and dressed impeccably in designer wear or be crafty, slightly threatening with an askew moral compass. Able to magically walk through closed doors, barge into heroine’s home, abduct her and must own a gun.

Heroine: Sketch character. Female. Fair and lovely. Must have the ability to stand with arms akimbo and speak in long threatening sentences to male character (see above). Must only show outer strength, matlab veneer (see made for each other!) which can easily be chipped by a cup of chai

No need for strong resolve. Preferable if she has an IQ of a raisin. Can be MBA/MA/Bed but must stay at home and make square parathas to fit in round tiffins. See Mohabbat Subh ka Sitara Hai, Mera Naam Yousuf Hai

Also note you need a foil to the heroine. Slightly unhinged characters are a good idea. Best to make sure they are only shown in Western clothing with bright red lipstick so they are easy for the audience to identify as vamp.

Note: Both hero and heroine should be conventionally good looking. Acting ability desirable but not mandatory.


One or two parents, budget permitting. Preferably poor or ailing or both. Must have worry lines from fear of daughters (one or more see below) marriage. Must be struggling financially so hero, can help her out by taking one daughter off their hands. (See Tum Kyon Piya, Gul-e-Rana, Dil lagi)

One saas. Must be one-dimensional. ONLY. Preferably shaatir with the ability to wrap son around her fingers. Must eat paan or chew on her son’s terrible kismet to be married to heroine with inability to replicate her haleem.

Two or three siblings depending on budget, revolving wardrobe and available left over makeup

Absolute essentials

If heroine is working, you must move her to the domestic sphere ASAP

Assorted phuphus/mamis and betis constantly angling for a piece of the jayadaad pie as well as creating elaborate schemes to hook the eligible heir and cousin.

One wafadaar friend – to be a sounding board to all of the hero’s plans and be willing to be the butt of all jokes. If he has a sister, can add unrequited love angle (See Mera Naam Yousuf Hai)

Cars, candles and flowers – Three different branded cars in order of preference: Mercedes, BMWs and/or Audis. Candles must burn at two ends. Healthy flower budget, red roses essential. (See Tum Meray Kya Ho)

One moment of takkar (tastefully done with candles and flowers where possible) where hero-heroine realize they are in love.

Rain scene – self-explanatory

Westernized girl in western clothes and dark red lipstick to blame falling morals, heat, rising oil prices and general societal degradation. Ideal candidate for rape as you can also blame her. See Gul-e-Rana

Any thinking women must be side actors marginal to the story. Best to let the heroine leave everything to kismat but her painted nails and blow dried hair. These she must see to herself, after cooking, cleaning, ironing and all other ghardari. See Mera Naam Yousuf Hai


Star-crossed lovers. Boy meets girl, girl meets boy. Love at first sight so it saves the script writer time, energy and any creative thinking to actually show why they are in love. Parents are not agreeable to in the age old tradition of ‘parents know best’ both boy and girl go their separate ways. (See Mann Mayal)

Stalker turns lover Boy meets girl. Girl hates boy. Boy loves girl. Boy stalks girl, harasses her, threatens girl, family, relatives, mohallewale, rhistewali, any man on the planet who dares to come into contact with said girl. Girl loves boy. For differing dimensions and the evolution of heroine’s No to Yes, See Mera Naam Yousuf Hai, Dil lagi


Matlab? See above. Current popular trend is “Stalker turns lover”. For inspiration, see Sangat where rapist is also the hero.

Every episode must include

Nashta and chai – repeat as needed matlab, ad nauseum. See Diyar-e-Dil (364 references to chai and nashta)

At least one character must not have nashta because of last night’s fight.

Even if something is clear, must be said in script so audience doesn’t miss a heartbeat or any chai and/or nashta moments. If possible include flashbacks in black and white and slow motion.

Morals of the story

Women are mazloom.  Women must be shown as helpless. They should have no ambition to be anything other than home makers. Parents must be completely disinterested in teaching their daughters anything related to financial independence.

Even women who are studying must under no circumstances be allowed to make any decisions by themselves. All decisions are to be made by other people – parents, chachas, mamus, paperwala but never the woman.

Please ensure enough glycerin on hand since women will have to go through every struggle imaginable and must cry through at least 10 episodes minimum.

Women must be punished. Any woman who tries to follow an independent life or independent train of thought, must be punished. Mercilessly. You can show a woman making her own career decisions or choosing her life partner, but in the end she has to suffer for this behavior. (See Preet na Kaiyo Koi, Abro)

Parents know best. This is perfect timing to reiterate dialogues such as “parents know best”, “Elders always make the right decision for you.” Basically, women are incapable of using their minds to make any decision (see above). Even if the woman is beaten to a pulp after marriage or she and her husband are not suited for one another, you cannot question your parents right to control your life.

Marry within the family. Following closely in the footsteps of parents know best, only cousins should marry! Easier to establish long term interaction, and saves the writer the headache of creating novel situations. See Diyar-e-dil, Gul-e-Rana, Tum Kyon Piya

Bad men are also good men even if they assault and harass women. It is for their own good, women don’t know anything na, we must teach them, it is our duty as a patriarchal society. Women must always say yes. No is not a choice.

Note: See Bhai on how to avoid thugs from actually being portrayed as terrible, sadistic goondas that they are and where a women’s choice is respected. Do not copy.

Follow these directions and you will have a high TRP ranking drama on your hands! Good luck!

So there you have it folks. If this continues we will have multiple dramas that are nothing but pale copies of each other. Each one trying to outdo the other in sensationalism…oh wait….I suppose, these directives might help explain why most dramas these days end up looking, sounding and feeling suspiciously similar.

Here’s hoping for better days to come or at least a way to demand our money back!

A (badly) edited version first appeared here.

By A Musing Muslim




  1. I dont know if I agree with every point MM . Not all dramas that you mention are hits . Certainly there have been a lot of regressive elements lately. I think the public is also very much to blame after all they lap up such nonsense .
    I love Dillagi because I think it is turning a lot of expectations on their head . As to Tum kon Piya , yes it is a bit of the same old ,same old yet it really isn’t getting high ratings . Similarly Dayar e dil did not get the ratings till a lot later when Wali Faraa entered the screen . I cant say its that simple . Haa I would say Mann Mayal is following this formula and winning the Ratings war and so is ABroo and Bay qasoor etc


    • Don’t you know you have to agree with everything because it is the product of a fact-driven investigative piece of journalism?

      The problem is that now most dramas are interchangeable. Mann Mayal is a hash of copy paste templates and Dil lagi is too filmi to be believable.


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