If you’re tired of tuning into TV for desi entertainment, the web is all set to offer you off-beat Pakistani short films, mockumentaries and web-series.
If you’re someone who’s tired of tuning into TV for wholesome desi entertainment, then Pakistan’s digital media platforms definitely have something in store for you. 2020 brought with it an uncertain lockdown, cinema theatre closures and a rather disruptive lull to the country’s entertainment industry. That being said, there is a plethora of digital fictional content available for streaming on YouTube and upcoming Pakistani OTT platforms to watch out for. These range from web series with big banner sponsorships and some tight-budget independent efforts to tell different stories. Here’s a brief list of streaming platforms that’ll bring you some solid content...
YouTube channel Digestive Showtime recently launched their first short film, Yorker which is a social comedy directed by Ahsan Rahim and Syed Nini starring Wahaj Ali in the lead. Yorker questions hypocritical superficiality keeping cricket as primary metaphor and packages interesting commentary on our own eccentricities as a society.
Daughter-by-Law, the second release directed by Armughan Hassan, is a sweet and sharp situational family comedy starring Sohai Ali Abro and Marina Khan in the lead among others. When American Pakistani Sarah (Sohai Abro) visits Pakistan after 20 years for the first time after getting married, she realizes it will take a lot to warm up to her mother-in-law Farah (Marina Khan) and she tries every rule in the book to get them to like each other. If you’re looking for sweet quirky comedies to surf through, these two short films might just be the right fit for you.
The third and most recent release on the platform is the Zahid Ahmed starrer, Najaf Bilgrami directorial night thriller, titled 2sey5. It revolves around three life-changing hours in the world of a rich and entitled young man.
Digestive Showtime promises five short films from five different directors, performers and varying genres; the next film will be releasing over the Eid holidays.
C1 Shorts by CreatorsOne features new content in several formats, such as short films and web series, in a variety of different genres. There’s Paon Ki Jooti which is an intense short film on marital discord between Imran (Ali Safina) and Safia (Faryal Mehmood). The story explores the subliminal love-hate relationship between a couple symbolically through a pair of new shoes.
Another film centered around love and the heartbreak follows it is Bewafa starring Anoushay Abbasi in the lead and directed by Fahd Nur. Do tune into the bitter-sweet OST of the film, sung and composed by Nabeel Shaukat Ali.
If young couples are looking to watch romantic comedies that mirror their time during lockdown and otherwise, we recommend watching Piyar Wali Problems. Produced by Sadia Jabbar Productions and available on their official YouTube channel, Piyar Wali Problems is a light comedic series with several different webisodes, each centered around a couple and their ups and downs. We recommend watching the following webisodes: Raja Ki Rani, Mummy Ka Munna, Radio Dhamaka, Baton Baton Main and Qaidi Jora.
As a premiere domestic OTT platform, RINSTRA offers a wide variety of socio-cultural content for all age groups along with content in regional languages as well. Most recently they released Pakistan’s first Pashto web series, titled Gudai which raises the issue of child marriage. Written and directed by acclaimed Pashto writer Bakht Rawan Bakht, the series features new artists from the Pashto community. These include Manadar Sadiq, Shabana Azmi, Roma, Bibi Shereena and Adnan Bakht. The series is setting a new milestone not for the Pashtu content enthusiasts, but also pushing the envelope for storytelling as well as emerging content creators and consumers.
Touted as Pakistan’s first indigenious OTT platform, UrduFlix just recently released Lifafa Dayaan, a show based on media professionals and the massive corruption and bribery that plagues the journalism industry. The first episode of the webseries is available to watch on Emaxtv1’s YouTube channel. Starring Mashal Khan in the lead, the show is a riveting story about the challenges women journalists and anchors face while climbing the notorious ladder of success.
To watch the full series subscribe to Urduflix for more exciting content and tune into multiple other Pakistani web series like the one night thriller, Dulhan Aur Aik Raat and the social drama titled Aurat Gardi which is based on the nation’s much discussed Aurat March as a backdrop.
Shor Films just recently released The Promise which is written and directed by Ali Sipra. A poignant and beautiful short film, the story is centered on a promise that a father makes to his daughter and explores his journey of being able to live up to his word. Another short worth your watch is Doorbell, directed by Talha Shorwala and Ali Sipra that has been written by Shehrbano Awan.
This story touches upon the issues of domestic violence in Pakistan. If you’re looking for niche content that offers offbeat narratives and features new faces, give Shor Films a chance.
BaidaarTV brings you Wedding Night Stories, which is an interesting series of five short films all centered around, as evident from its name, Suhaagraats or wedding nights. Interestingly enough, these five short films all capped under 15 minutes turn the entire overly romanticized notions and blissful connotations associated with suhaagraats in South Asia, upside down on their head. These hard hitting shorts address taboo themes likes virginity, regressive post-nikkah customs, revenge, domestic violence, child sexual abuse and molestation, and illegitimate pregnancy. Written and directed by Kifayat Rodani, Wedding Night Stories has fresh faces to watch out for as well as renowned actors like Saleem Meraj, Kaif Ghaznavi and Rashid Farooqi as part of its cast.
Apart from the above trending series and web portals a credible mention from previous year, especially for youngsters and kids is Hum Aapas Main available to watch on Khayaal Studios’ YouTube channel featuring a credible ensemble cast. The short web series is a wonderful watch for children and adults alike as it teaches potent values on diversity, peace, and comments on universal humanity which unites us all.
Digital Media is definitely the next big booming medium of entertainment not just for Pakistan, but for the world. The Global Entertainment and Media Outlook (2019-2023) states that the digital revenues will account for over 60% of total revenue in the media and entertainment industry. The best part about digital entertainment is that content creators have the freedom to make content for all ages, in varying formats and experiment with myriad genres which can satiate everyone’s appetite for quality entertainment.
Afreen Seher is a creative writer and a Digital Media professional with special interests in Film, TV and Pop culture. She can be reached at [email protected]