Top-rated writers today

March 22, 2020

Content is king and the success of any TV serial stems from its story. Here are five writers who have aced their game, over and over again…

American novelist Orson Scott Card once said, “Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don’t see any.”

It wouldn’t be wrong to say that in the current era of creative inertia, when most writers are regurgitating the same ideas and rewriting the same stories over and over again, there are a few brave and bold writers in Pakistan who are actually thinking beyond the bar, raising it with every story they write.

These writers – both male and female – have been around for a long time and continue telling great stories, irrespective of ratings. They’re private people, uncomfortable in the public eye, and don’t appear much on TV as they prefer to let their work speak for itself. That’s maybe one of the reasons why they’re a mystery for most of their fans. Let’s analyze the Big 5 Drama Writers of today and highlight their amazing work.

Zafar Mairaj

(Active since 1991)

Zafar Mairaj

Notable Dramas: Amarbail, Dozakh, Ijazat, Masuri, Ghar Ki Khatir, Vanee, Lyari Express, Darwaza, Mehram, Sangat, Muqaabil, Qurban, Lashkara, Inkaar

Frequent Collaborators: Kashif Nisar, Siraj ul Haq, Kamran Qureshi

If you ever want to see living proof of someone who’s young at heart and in spirit, then look no further than Zafar Mairaj. For someone who has been around since the 1990s, Zafar Mairaj has had a great journey and shows no sign of slowing down. He started his career from his native city, Quetta but soon emerged as one of the most prolific drama writers in the country. Be it Amarbail from the early 90s or Dozakh from the late 90s, the award-winning Ghar Ki Khatir to the power-packed drama Inkaar, which aired last year, Zafar Mairaj has always highlighted social issues on the sidelines of his dramas. His dialogues stay with the audience even after the episode is over whereas he loves to draw characters from people around us. So far he has succeeded every time because of his realistic approach to writing and the drama industry owes a lot to him for that.

Umera Ahmed

(Active since 2004)

Umera Ahmed wrote the hugely successful Zindagi Gulzar Hai.

Notable Dramas: Wujood-e-Laraib, La Haasil, Doraha, Meri Zaat Zarra-e-Benishan, Daam, Qaid-e-Tanhai, Uraan, Maat, Durr-e-Shehwar, Shehr-e-Zaat, Zindagi Gulzar Hai, Kankar, Laal, Alif

Frequent Collaborators: Mehreen Jabbar, Babar Javed, Haseeb Hasan

It would be incorrect to say that had it not been for Umera Ahmed, Pakistani drama would still be following the Indian format and churning out outlandish, over the top and exaggerated stories that had neither good taste not tenure. From La Haasil to Doraha, Meri Zaat Zarra-e-Benishan to Maat, every time Umera Ahmed picks up the pen, she aces it. Who can forget Uraan, Durr-e-Shehwar, Shehr-e-Zaat, Zindagi Gulzar Hai and Kankar that highlighted a successful woman in a man’s world, showing her as his equal! Although she has been around for over 15 years, she spent the last few years as a consultant, before making her comeback with Alif, delivering one of the biggest hit dramas of 2019. The audience is now looking forward to her first web-series Dhoop Ki Deewar, which will be releasing online soon. That will be followed by her first feature film, Aan, featuring Fawad Khan, Zara Noor Abbas and Sanam Saeed.

Mustafa Afridi

(Active since 2007)

Mustafa Afridi

Notable Dramas: Partition Stories, Aseerzadi, Mohabbat.pk, Sang e Mar Mar, Aangan (HUM TV), Ehd-e-Wafa

Frequent Collaborators: Saife Hasan, Ehteshamuddin

It is always important to play to your strengths and Mustafa Afridi seems to understand that very well. He came to National Academy of Performing Arts to become an actor but his teachers found him more suited to writing; he used to churn out scripts without any assistance. Since penning down the outstanding Mukti in the Partition Stories more than a decade ago, Mustafa Afridi has been around doing what he does best – telling stories that are close to reality. Be it the women-centric Aseerzadi or the culturally authentic Sang e Mar Mar, the period drama Aangan or the modern-day classic Ehd-e-Wafa, Mustafa Afridi knows how to come up with a gripping tale that not only highlights issues but designs characters that leave a lasting impression on the viewer’s mind. His ability to pen powerful dialogues and create situations that could be equally good emotionally, comically and suspenseful, is what makes him one of the best writers of the modern era.

Faiza Iftikhar

(Active since 2008)

Faiza Iftikhar wrote Ranjha Ranjha Kardi, one of the most popular drama serials of 2019.

Notable Dramas: Akbari Asghari, Bilqees Kaur, Aik Nayee Cinderella, Aunn Zara, Dil Lagi, Mein Sitara, Pinjra, Aangan (ARY Digital), Baba Jani, Ranjha Ranjha Kardi

Frequent Collaborators: Haisam Hussain, Kashif Nisar, Aamir Yousuf, Roomi Insha (late)

Would you believe it if I told you that Aik Nayee Cinderella, Aunn Zara, Dil Lagi, Mein Sitara, Aangan (ARY Digital), Baba Jani and Ranjha Ranjha Kardi were all penned by the same writer. That’s the brilliance of Faiza Iftikhar, who has been actively penning hits after hits for TV since over a decade. Her strength lies in creating characters and then giving them the appropriate dialogues, something most writers not in this list don’t believe in. She knows how to create conflict and then resolve it, while ensuring that every drama of hers has a message for the audience. She excels in witty scenarios as well as serious ones and her plays in the last few years, since Dil Lagi, are proof of that. While ARY Digital’s Aangan landed close to the audience’s heart, Ranjha Ranjha Kardi highlighted social evils. And that’s why the audience is waiting impatiently for her feature film debut Tich Button that is all set to release on Eid ul Fitr.

Farhat Ishtiaq

(Active since 2011)

Farhat Ishtiaq

Notable Dramas: Humsafar, Mata-e-Jaan Hai Tu, Rehaai, Mere Humdum Mere Dost, Dayar-e-Dil, Udaari, Bin Roye, Yaqeen Ka Safar, Yeh Dil Mera

Frequent Collaborators: Mehreen Jabbar, Shahzad Kashmiri, Haseeb Hasan

Without Farhat Ishtiaq, the drama revival that happened a decade ago wouldn’t have been possible. She emerged as a storyteller at a time when the industry desperately needed one, and with back to back hits like Humsafar and Mata-e-Jaan Hai Tu, she managed to establish herself as a writer who knew what the audience wanted. With Dayar-e-Dil, she became the top writer in the country, a claim she strengthened with Udaari, one of the first dramas to tackle a social issue in a smart manner. Unlike her contemporaries, she tries to venture into every genre and that’s why, when she penned Yaqeen Ka Safar, the audience loved it since it had all the ingredients of a blockbuster. Even today, her suspense thriller Yeh Dil Mera is on air and the audience is loving it because it is different from the usual Saas Bahu dramas. In an era when suspense thrillers are mostly penned by male writers, Farhat Ishtiaq’s emergence proves that a good writer is a good writer, gender irrespective.


– Omair Alavi is a freelance broadcast journalist who can be contacted at [email protected]

Pakistan's top rated writers: Farhat Ishtiaq, Faiza Iftikhar, Mustafa Afridi, Umera Ahmed, Zafar Mairaj