Actress Ushna Shah engaged in a thought-provoking Twitter exchange recently with a user who criticised the Pakistani drama industry for its lack of creativity and outdated storylines compared to international dramas. In response, Shah shed light on the challenges faced by the industry, including budget constraints, production monopolies, and frequent bans and restrictions imposed by regulatory bodies. The conversation started when a Twitter user expressed their disappointment, saying, “Watching international dramas really brings into perspective how limited the Pakistani drama industry is in terms of stories. There is literally no creativity.” The user also lamented the prevalence of stereotypical characters in local dramas, such as scheming saas (mother-in-law), wailing bahu (daughter-in-law) and clueless men. Shah provided a detailed response that defended the industry while highlighting the role of production houses and the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA). She also emphasised the responsibility of the audience for not giving unconventional ideas a chance. Shah explained that budget limitations, production monopolies, and PEMRA regulations restrict producers from taking risks with unconventional stories that may not align with the majority audience’s preferences. “We are limited by budgets, a production monopoly and PEMRA,” Shah explained. “Producers don’t want to risk spending money outside the ‘formula’ that works. Usually, when they invest outside the box, it doesn’t pan out so well. We can thank the majority of the audience for that as well.” Shah also highlighted the challenges faced when attempting to explore risqué subjects. She cited the example of Sarmad Khoosat’s film “Zindagi Tamasha,” which faced a ban shortly after its release due to its controversial content. She argued that incidents like this demonstrate the need for a more open and accepting environment that encourages diversity and experimentation in storytelling. Despite these challenges, Shah remains optimistic about the future of Pakistani dramas. She mentioned the young generation of filmmakers who are eager to break away from conventional narratives and explore fresh storylines. However, their aspirations are often impeded by a lack of financial support. Shah concluded by stating, “A young generation of filmmakers are itching to do something different, story-wise and screen-wise, just need someone to fund them in good faith.” Shah’s detailed response, although now deleted from Twitter, sparked a debate among users about recent Pakistani dramas that have broken stereotypes and are worth watching. Some “underrated” gems, including “Parizaad,” “Bakhtawar,” “Dila Na Umeed Toh Nahi,” and “Masuri,” were mentioned by users. One user even suggested story ideas for sitcoms, showcasing the ongoing discussion and interest in pushing the boundaries of Pakistani storytelling.