Many people on social media expressed similar worries when the trailer for the upcoming Pakistani adolescent drama College Gate appeared on Instagram last month: was this a copy of the Netflix series Elite about an exclusive private school in Spain? How would information that appeared to only show a tiny “upper class” resonate with Pakistani audiences? And why would the creators create a program that appeared to “belong to another culture”?
The director and producer of College Gate, whose premiere is set for this month on the recently launched Pakistani TV channel Green Entertainment, assured readers in interviews that the program will appeal to Pakistani audiences, especially young people, and will both uphold and entertain family values.
Pakistan will have over 220 million people as of 2022, making it one of the youngest countries in the world. It is now the sixth most populous country in the world.
Imran Raza, the creator of Green Entertainment and a producer, commented on the necessity to create material for young Pakistanis in an interview. “Seventy percent of our population is under 30, you cannot leave this much of the audience to be influenced by foreign content,” he said.
“They will watch something regardless of whether you provide them with [local] material because they need amusement… Nobody is prepared to discuss youth-related concerns.
However, Raza claimed that College Gate, which has a young and up-and-coming cast, would address several issues significant to young Pakistanis, such as not being permitted by parents to pursue careers of their choice, growing up in a single-parent home, and balancing one’s passions and dreams with the need to choose a path that would lead to financial success and independence.
“The drama also discusses puberty issues and hormonal changes that parents are typically reluctant to discuss with their children,” Raza continued.
In response to criticism that the show would be offensive to Pakistani culture, director Fahim Burney made it clear that College Gate was “just a story of friends.”
“A girl and a guy going to college don’t necessarily have to be in a relationship; they can just be friends,”
In addition, Burney claimed that the friendships were “encouraging good values among each other,” whether in the portrayal of a girl helping her father in his business, volunteering for causes, or praying five times every day.
According to Burney, the show sent forth “positive messages for young viewers to take inspiration from,” showing the adolescents to be respectful to their parents.
Speaking of his influences, Burney claimed that he took inspiration from Pakistan’s Kollege Jeans and the well-liked British sitcom Mind Your Language, both of which focused on campus life at art schools.
“So, I have revamped that into our Pakistani style, that there should be a uniform and a school [located] somewhere outside the city,” Burney remarked.
College Gate “will be a fun, young program that will highlight the issues today’s youth are facing,” according to TV critic and founder of Fuchsia Magazine Rabia Mughni.
In response to the caravan, she stated, “I can see a glimpse of issues like drugs, peer pressure, relationships, and communication gap with parents.”
Mughni said when asked about how the drama was compared to overseas productions:
“As you watch the show’s trailer, you notice that the footage appears to be from Pakistan and is realistic. If you focus on the upper-middle class or higher class, you will find this type of environment in those institutions, however, it may not be representative of the masses or the majority of Pakistani schools’ lifestyles.