When Nadia Khan entered the Pakistani drama industry in the 1990’s, the image she formed of herself was of a young and happy-go-lucky girl. She played the adventurous and bold woman of Haseena Moin in Des Pardes and Pal Do Pal, the bubbly heroine of Ali Haider in Jaane Kyun, the carless wife in Bandhan and Manzilein whose follies seemed adorable. This image of Nadia Khan got imprinted in the minds of Pakistanis, even when she left acting and started giving all her time to morning shows. In her shows as well, Nadia Khan would show the jolly side of her personality time and again with hilarious segments such as ‘Happy To You’. With time, even her morning shows became more serious and started focussing on grave issues and healthy content.
With her recent comeback in the drama industry, Nadia Khan has entirely changed the persona she had presented before. Her modern drama serials are extremely serious, and in none of them, we find the laughing Nadia we used to in her old works. The drama serials she is currently doing are no doubt feminist, as are the majority of Pakistani dramas, but what is unique in the stories Nadia is presenting is the fact that they enter domains other than ‘saas-bahu’ issues and acquaint the viewers with a lot of topics which are modern, hot and socially relevant yet snubbed often. Nadia Khan’s first drama serial after her comeback titled Aisi Hai Tanhai which went on air on ARY was based on the consequences of a woman’s nudes going viral. This single idea had a lot of other themes hidden under it such as the negative use of social media, revenge porn and the hypocrisies in ways of dealing with each gender. The issue, although very modern and common, was never dealt with this way before. Her second drama serial, Zun Mureed, which is currently running on HUM Tv revolves around the issue of domestic violence, but does not deal with it in a mundane manner. It relates physical abuse with the recently passed law against domestic violence in Pakistan, making Zun Mureed a story not ignorant of current affairs. Her third drama serial, Kaisi Aurat Hoon Mein, running on the same channel tells how it is not always in a direct manner that wives are exploited, but the abuse may be very manipulative and subtle as well, taking place through coaxing words only.
In an interview of Nadia which I did for a newspaper, she told that her modern roles are such with which she can relate to, and that it is after experiences of marriage, love, loss and heartbreak that her modern roles can be understood in a better manner. In another interview with Farah Hussain, she also said that it is very late in life that one understands that things are not funny at all. When one ponders on these statements of Nadia Khan, one is inclined to think that life has not been very easy for this woman who has always made us laugh. And when one links these statements of hers with the dramas she is choosing for herself, one is also made to think if the stories of her dramas are based on her own experiences. Whatever the reason may be, the commendable thing is that even if Nadia Khan faced unpleasant experiences, she managed a way out of them, and by depicting those problems in her drama serials, she has started teaching the society about all the ills which are refraining it from becoming a better place to live in. She is presenting the issues in the form of cause-and-effect stories, suggesting how people, especially women who are oppressed the most in our society, can deal with those issues and rise as empowered beings even after extremely bad experiences.