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TOP TEN Dramas

Pakistani Dramas have made colossal strides over the last decade, raising the bar for quality writing, innovation and realism. No, we don’t mean the daytime soaps that are full of Saas/bahu sazishes but the prime time offerings of our main channels. Ever increasing internet access and the spread of social media have put any show just a click away. A sizable section of the Indian public and the world wide subcontinental diaspora have given them an international hitherto unheard off international presence.

So it made perfect business sense for Indian broadcasting giant Zee TV to take advantage of such a commercial opportunity and dedicate a channel called Zee Zindagi to their transmission. It was these same dramas that introduced not just India but anyone on the globe (who understands even a little Urdu) to our most famous exports Fawad Khan and Mahira Khan. Unfortunately political rhetoric seems to have reduced the torch of cross border friendship and goodwill to the kind of flickering Deeya Parro carried around for Devdas, so maybe it’s time to remind everyone why the Deeya was lit in the first place.

Now, this list was not easy to compile, just being popular or “hit of the season” will not get your favourite drama on it. Firstly, a drama has to be incredibly well written: any repetitious dialogues, inconsistent characterizations, or lazy reliance on stereotypes or clichés would be an immediate disqualification. There were so many good dramas that almost made the cut but were put aside because they were needlessly stretched, or lost out on production values or editing. The ones that did make it to the top ten have these things in common: repeat value, iconic characters, a coherent story from start to finish and a strong director. However the single most important common denominator was that they were all rock solid entertainment, the kind of show audiences were desperately waiting all week for.

  2. dastan

Director : Haissem Hussain    Writer : Samira Fazal

Cast : Fawad Khan , Sanam Baloch ,Ahsan Khan , Saba Qamar,  Mehreen Raheel

Its not easy being number 1, being good is not good enough, you have to be exceptional. Dastaan isn’t just any serial, or just any romance between two individuals, it is an epic love story between a nation and its people. Set during the tumultuous time of partition and independence, Dastaan told the story of Hassan and Bano, torn apart by events far beyond their control. The sheer complexity and scale of such a project would daunt anyone but was skillfully handled by director Haissem Hussain with the kind of next level genius that he is well known for.  Marshalling multiple locations, a huge star cast and all the political sensitivities and historical details while still maintain a critical balance makes this drama stand head and shoulders above the crowd. Fawad Khan , Sanam Baloch , Ahsan Khan ,Saba Qamar and Mehreen Raheel gave superlative performances to match Samira Fazal’s wonderful script.



  2. humsafar

Director: Sarmad Khoosat     Writer: Farhat Ishtiaq

Cast : Fawad Khan , Mahira Khan ,Naveen Waqar , Atiqa Odho, Hina Bayat, Noor Hassan

Some things are so pure and simple they out shine everything else. Humsafar enthralled a nation, launching Fawad Khan and Mahirah Khan to superstardom. Director Sarmad Khoosat and Farhat Ishtiaq gave us more than a love story; here was a map of the human heart, an intimate understanding off the deepest feelings two people can have for each other. Romance, jealousy, despair and ultimately the triumph of forgiveness made this one of the best serials ever made.




Director: Mehreen Jabbar    Writer: Umera Ahmed

Cast: Adeel Hussain, Sanam Baloch, Amina Shaikh, Sanam Saeed

This rare gem of a serial is like a long cool glass of water on a hot summer’s day. Director Mehreen Jabbar’s elegant minimalist style perfectly captured this acutely observed story of friendship and loss. This is one of writer Umera Ahmed’s most mature and complete screenplays; intelligent and nuanced in its understanding of the human condition.



Director Haissem Hussain    Writer: Umera Ahmed

Cast: Mikaal Zulfikar, Sanam Baloch, Sameena Peerzada, Nadia Jamil ,Nauman Ejaaz.Umer Naru


This drama is a textbook example of the power of a good director. What could easily have ended up as a well written potboiler became an essay on marriage and the changing demands of modern relationships? Using a clever balance of past present and near past, director Haissem Hussain kept the momentum going, in what might have been just another mazloom aurat story. This technique required a lot of skilled editing and if anyone wants to compare notes on how its done just watch the American serial “The story of us”., which  mirrors this difficult style. Memorable performances from Sanam Baloch Mikaal Zulfikaar , Nadia Jamil and Samina Peerzada made this serial seem like a secret door into the past of every woman.



Director : Sarmad Khoosat     Writer : Umera Ahmed

Cast : Mahira Khan ,Mikaal Zulfikaar Mohib Mirza ,Samina Peerzada


Mahirah Khan and Mikaal Zulfikaar shone in this tale of spiritual awakening. This story took on some tough subjects like our easy acceptance of materialism, our lack of empathy for those around us and the secret to true contentment in what can only be described as fable for modern times. Even more than Humsafar this serial showcased director Sarmad Khoosat’s uniquely artistic and allegorical directorial style.


Director: Baber Javed     Writer: Umera Ahmed

Cast : Faysal Qureshi ,Sammiya Mumtaz ,Adnan Siddiqui , Imran Abbas, Samina Peerzada

This was one of the milestones of Pakistani television, with brilliant performances from Sammiya Mumtaz and Faysal Qureshi. This tragic story hit at the heart of how the concept of modesty and virtue can be used against a woman. There is no redemption , no absolution in this story , it serves as reminder that somethings just cannot be taken back. Anyone watching this will be reminded of what a great director Baber Javed used to be .




Director : Haissem Hussain    Writer : Faiza Iftikhar

Cast : Osman Khalid Butt ,Maya Ali , Sabreen Hasbani ,Hina Bayat , Adnan Jaffer , Yasirr Mazhar

There is a myth that comedy is easy ,when in reality it can be the hardest thing to pull off. This romantic comedy made it deceptively easy: a sparkling script from writer Faiza Iftikhar, handled with skill and creativity by Haissem Hussain won hearts on both sides of the border.  Selfish but sweet Aunn and his couldn’t be bothered to sharma, very practical bride Zara were a very modern, breath of fresh air , bringing younger audiences to a genre that had been long designated to “aunties and Uncles”. Fabulous performances from Osman Khalid Butt and Maya Ali make this serial stand out from the crowd. This serial proved that all that budget should never be a limitation on quality because strong performances a good script and great camera work can overcome anything.


3_520 (1)

Director : Baber Javed    Writer : Faiza Iftiikhar

Cast : Faysal Qureshi , Sumbal Iqbal, Asif Raza Mir , Mohib Mirza , Yameena Peerzada

Writer Faiza Iftikhar proved her amazing versatility by being able to write this harrowing tale of child rape just as flawlessly as she did the light hearted AunnZara. This story many layered story explains in detail the fallout from such a tragedy and builds to a shocking climax, while pointing out the way our society fails victims. Brilliant performances from Faysal Qureshi, Asif Raza Mir, Sumbul Iqbal and Mohib Mirza make this thrilling viewing . Baber Javed and Furqan Khan directed this remarkable serial.



Director : Nadeem Baig     Writer : Khalil ur Rahman Qammar

Cast : Hamza Ali Abbasi, Aiza Khan , Sana Javed, Firdause Jamal , Saba Hamid ,Suhai Abro, Umer Naru , Anoushay Abbasi.

It is fact that most serials are female oriented but this beautifully written drama from Khalil Ur Rehman Qammar, brought the male protagonist to the fore: introducing us to Afzal Subhanallah. Flawed, broken, but forever the naïve optimist, it should have been obvious that Afzal would break our hearts . Hamza Ali Abbasi shot to stardom with his wonderful performance under the expert guidance of director Nadeem Baig. Bolstered by great performances from Firdause Jamal, Saba Hamid and Aiza Khan this serial maintained a level of exceptional quality. There are those who will ask why is it then at 9 , when it could have been higher up on the list ? The simple answer would be, that it is relatively small payback for killing off our Afzal.

  2. zindagi-gulzar-hai-episode-1

Director : Sultana Siddiqui    Writer Umera Ahmed

Cast : Sanam Saeed , Fawad Khan ,Mansha Pasha , Ayesha Omer, Waseem Abbas , Samina Peerzada , Hina Bayat

This serial was a phenomenon that made its stars insanely popular in both India and Pakistan, boosting the steady trickle of cultural exchange into a river of cross border friendship. Powerful performances from Sanam Saeed, Sameena Peerzada and Fawad Khan made this serial this international favourite.

Honourable Mentions:

MARASIMdownload (24)

Director : Owais Khan   Writer : Zanjabeel Asim Shah

Cast : Ahsan Khan , Saba Hamid ,Sonya Husain , Urwa Hocane



 ULLU BARAEY FRUKHT NAHullu-baraye-farokht-nahi

Director : Kashif Nisar    Writer : Amna Mufti

Cast : Noman Ijaz, Uzma Hassan, Saba Qamar, Noman Masood, Irsa Ghazal, Sohail Ahmed and Yumna Zaidi

 DAYAR E DIL11022949_1574719662806057_2033936056_n

Director: Haseeb Hassan      Writer: Farhat Ishtiaq

Cast :Abid Ali, Sanam Saeed ,Mikaal Zulfikar, Ali Rehman , Hareem Farooq, Osman Khalid Butt, Maya Ali , Ahmed Zeb and Maryam Nafees


MAIN ABDUL QADIR HOONmain-aq-hoon1 (1).jpg

Director : Baber Javed          Writer : Sarwat Nazir

Cast : Fahad Mustapha, Alishba Yusuf ,Faysal Qureshi, Amina Shaikh, Asid Raza Mir , Saba Hamid,



Director: Mohammad Ehtashamuddin      Writer : Farhat Ishtiaq

Cast :Bushra Ansari , Ahsan Khan, Sammiya Mumtaz, Farhan Saeed, Urwa Hocane

There were so many good dramas that almost made the cut but had to be pushed aside because they were needlessly stretched, or lost out on production values or editing. The ones that did make it to the top ten have these things in common: repeat value, iconic characters, a coherent story line and they are rock solid entertainers.

The Ones that got away:

Kuch Pyaar Ka Pagalpan , Aik Naeey Cinderella, Rehaii, Sadqay Tumhharay, Azar ki Aaygi Baraat, Aik Nazar Meri Taraf, Jalpari, Mera Saeen,  Pani Jaisa Pyaar, Vasl, Jal Pari , Saat Pardon Main and Jackson Heights,Qaid e Tanhai

Now we dare you to watch just one episode of any of these dramas without waking up two days later and finding you have binge-watched the entire serial. Yes, they are that addictive. So  hold on to that Deeya, Parro, there is still oil in the lamp  Now that we have posted our list , get those thinking caps on and  tell us yours.

This article is also in

Sadaf Haider


  1. I watched Humsafar and Zindagi Gulzar Hai on netflix, may be four times each… needless to say I’m hooked. I could keep watching them over and over… Where can I watch some of the others?


  2. Hey Sadaf, thanks for the list. Okay first let me say I have not watched all the dramas above, but taking into account the ones I have watched (Humsafar, Daastan, ZGH, Dayar-e-Dil, Sadqay Tumare, Vasl and one or two others) just wondering if Mera Naam Yusuf Hai should not at least get an honorable mention? I know these lists are subjective and you are a drama buff…….


    • If I had my way I would have listed at least 20 . But limiting to a top TeN really made it difficult and some tough calls had to be made . There are quality dramas I wanted in there but they got pushed out 😦


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