US screenwriter Larry Pontius is someone very few Pakistanis know about despite his reasonable contribution to the Pakistani drama industry. A probable reason is that Pontius wrote dramas during the time when the drama industry was taking its initial steps towards revival and not many Pakistanis had shifted their focus from Star Plus towards local content.
Starting in 2005, Larry Pontius wrote multiple episodes for the HUM TV series called New York Stories, based on the vicissitudes of South Asians residing in America. He collaborated with Pakistani drama and film director Mehreen Jabbar for the project, who had just recently shifted to the US and was contributing to the industry from there, experimenting with both stories and locations.
A few years after, Pontius also wrote a murder mystery by the name of Qaatil for TV channel Aaj. Directed by Sarmad Sultan Khoosat, Qaatil had a stellar cast including Sameena Ahmad, Nadia Afgan, Sohail Sameer, Sania Saeed, Nasreen Qureshi and others.
Pontius’s last contribution, however, was an ARY Digital serial called Neeyat, which also marked Mahira Khan’s entry into the drama industry. Starring Humayun Saeed, Ahsan Khan, Gupta and Mahira in the leading roles, Neeyat managed to entice very few people because of its narrative that revolved around Pakistani students settled abroad.
Pontius did not write anything after Neeyat, although he was a unique addition to the plethora of great writers already penning scripts for the flourishing drama industry of Pakistan. With a sudden shift towards domesticated stories based on saas-bahu rows, Pontius unfortunately stepped back from writing for Pakistan, taking his off-beat storylines back to America with no hope of returning, much to the disappointment of Pakistani viewers.
Still, with directors like Jabbar and Khoosat who are invested in creating meaningful stuff for their country, one can expect the return of a writer like Pontius. Writers who can utilize their American nationality to weave stories of Pakistani expatriates, who often shy away from openly narrating their problems, yet need writers to voice their concerns.