Tanhaiyaan (Urdu: تنہائیاں, English: The loneliness) is a 1986 Pakistani drama serial which is now considered a cult classic.[1] Tanhaiyan Naye Silsilay telecast in 2012 is the sequel of 27-year-old serial Tanhaiyaan.[2]

The opening title screen for Tanhaiyaan
GenreTelevision for the Family
Written byHaseena Moin
Directed byShahzad Khalil[1]
StarringShehnaz Sheikh[1]
Marina Khan
Behroze Sabzwari
Qazi Wajid
Imtiaz Ahmed
Asif Raza Mir
Durdana Butt
Yasmeen Ismail
Mohammad Yousuf
Badar Khalil
Jamshed Ansari
Subhani Bayounus
Sultana Zafar
Azra Sherwani
Country of originPakistan
Original language(s)Urdu
Production company(s)Shalimar Recording Company (SRC)
Original networkPakistan Television Corporation (PTV)
Original release1985 (1985) 
2011 (2011)
Related showsTanhaiyan Naye Silsilay

The drama serial was directed by the legendary Shahzad Khalil and was written by the famous drama writer Haseena Moin. Tanhaiyan featured an ensemble star cast of veterans such as Shehnaz Sheikh, Marina Khan, Badar Khalil, Azra Sherwani, Asif Raza Mir, Behroze Sabzwari, Qazi Wajid, Jamshed Ansari, Yasmeen Ismail, Durdana Butt, Mohammad Yousaf, Sultana Zafar, Subhani Bayounus and Imtiaz Ali.[1]

It is the story of two sisters who lose their parents and go to live with their aunt. One of their efforts to buy back their parents' house leads them to realise what makes a house a home. It has re-run several times on PTV and other TV channels, due to its popularity.[3][4]


Two sisters Zara (Shehnaz Sheikh) and Sanya (Marina Khan) go to Karachi to visit their maternal aunt Zubi (Badar Khalil) while their parents, back home, meet with an unfortunate car accident and die. After their death, the girls find out that their father was heavily in debt and they have to sell all their assets including their house which their father had so lovingly built. All their friends turn their backs on them and they move in with their aunt Zubi.

In Karachi, while Sanya tries to adjust to their new life, Zara becomes obsessed with the idea to re-buy their house. She begins the pursuit to become rich. Here Saad Salman becomes her partner and together they start a garment factory. Sanya, on the other hand, soon befriends their landlord Faraan (Qazi Wajid) and becomes a pain for his secretary Qutbutdin (Behroze Sabzwari) whom she calls Qabacha (the name refers to Nasir ad-Din Qabacha who was the Muslim Turkic governor of Multan in 1203 AD). Farhan has a sister Apa Begum (Azra Sherwani) who lives in another house with her trusted servant Buqrat (Jamshed Ansari). Apa Begum is very keen on getting Farhan married and he impulsively proposes to Zubi.

Zain (Asif Raza Mir), Zara's childhood friend, along with his fiancée Vida (Yasmeen Ismail), comes to visit them. Zara asks Vida to join in her factory as a designer and together the two start making brilliant designs which become very popular. However Zara’s quest for money takes her away from her family, especially from Sanya who feels neglected. Saad Salman proposes to Zara and even though the family disapproves, Zara accepts.

Finally Zara's dream comes true and she has enough money to buy back her house. She goes to Lahore and finalizes the deal. However, when she enters her house, she is haunted by memories of the past and all the love that she has lost. In a flash, she realizes what she has achieved is an empty house, and in the process has distanced her family. Loneliness consumes her, she runs out of the house terrified and meets an accident.

Zara awakens to find her family close by but she is not able to speak or move. Initially, the doctors explain that it might be due to her spinal injuries. Later on, doctors say that she has gone into shock and does not have the will to live; there is nothing wrong physically with her. It is implied to the viewer that she has lost the will to struggle as she realizes that she has pushed everyone away from her in pursuit of what she thought was important and was all alone when what should have been her biggest triumph of finally buying the parents' house back. Saad, her fiancé, prefers to have a very strong, smart and pretty wife to project success in life. Saad becomes unsure about Zara after her accident as the doctors are skeptical about her recovery. Zara notices that Saad has lost interest in her and decides to return the engagement ring, which she eventually throws away in the garbage. Saad leaves Pakistan and travels abroad. Zara's family try to reassure her regarding the love and affection they have for her. During this time, Zain is shown to be very concerned for Zara's well being. The closeness between Zara and Zain disturbs Vida (his fiancée); Zain's father senses this and insists that Zain marries Vida as he had promised her parents a long time back. Zain agrees to his father's wishes. Zain then meets Zara and tells her that he has to leave Pakistan and go to Canada after marrying Vida, and he wants to see Zara up and about before that. Upon hearing this, Zara takes hesitant steps and is able to walk. An overjoyed Zain recounts this to Vida, who comments that he must be the happiest man on earth. She tells him that she is happy for him and urges him to see clearly as he is madly in love with Zara. She tells him that she has explained the whole situation to Zain's father and would be flying off to Canada alone.

The last sequence shows Zara sitting alone in a party surrounded by friends and family as if waiting for somebody; suddenly the sounds and surroundings dim as Zain walks in. They have an unspoken conversation across the room when she tells that she had been waiting long for him and where he had gone all this time? He is shown expressing that he was and always will be with her. In a quick transition, the music and surroundings come back into focus with every body crowding in a loud cheer around them. Zara finally fills the void of loneliness (Tanhaiyaan).

Cast and characters

CharacterPlayed byNotes
ZaraShehnaz SheikhShe starts off as the quiet type but is later revealed to be quiet sensitive. She starts a business to buy her house back and in doing that, drifts away from her family and friends. While visiting her ancestral house after buying it back, she is overcome by haunting memories and runs away and get hit by a car, injured badly, goes into a coma and wakes up paralyzed.
SanyaMarina KhanShe is lively, lazy, loud, materialistic but sensitive. She plays a lot of pranks on others, mainly Qutbudin, whom she calls Qabacha.
AaniBadar KhalilShe is the sisters' maternal aunt and takes them in when their parents die. A strict teacher by profession, she is also very social. She eventually marries Faraan, though she cried after accepting his proposal.
FaraanQazi WajidHe is very easy-going, intellectual businessman. Fears his sister, and marries Aani to avoid marrying a girl he dislikes that Aapa-begum arranged for him to marry.
ZainAsif Raza MirThe sisters' childhood friend. Initially, the fiancée of Vida, but later falls in love with Zara. Is very social and lively. Respects and cares for his father (Abba) a lot.
VidaYasmeen IsmailInitially, the fiancée of Zain. She also helped Zara in her business.
Aapa BegumAzra SherwaniShe is very strict and feared by all including her brother, Farhan.
BibiDurdana ButtAaya (mother-like figure) to Zara and Sanya. She creates humor in the house.
Qutbutdin (Qabacha)Behroze SabzwariThis was perceived as a character not-often-found in society, though intelligent, he was an introvert and dry and is the victim of most of Sanya's pranks, getting the nickname "Qabacha" as an insult. Eventually he falls in love with Sanya and instead of her annoying him, he starts annoying her by trying to make her fall in love with him. He takes advice from Buqrat and tries to follow that advice but always messes up. He made Zara laugh for the first time after being paralyzed.
Buqrat (Taken as a spoof of Socrates)Jamshed AnsariHe is Aapa Begam's trusted servant. He is very intelligent and gives Qabacha lots of ideas on how to make Sanya fall for him.
Zara and Sanya's fatherSubhani ba YunusA loving and caring man. He died in an accident en route to the airport.
Zara and Sanya's motherSultana ZafarA strict mother. She died in the same accident above en route to the airport.


Arshad Mehmood composed the background music for this drama serial.


After 27 years, a sequel named "Olper's Tanhaiyan: Naye Silsilay" is on the air at 8pm every Saturday on PTV and ARY Digital since 20 October 2012.[1] The script has been co-written by Haseena Moin and Mohammad Ahmed. The plot is about gaps in relations developed over the years in lives of characters owing to events they faced and how, going forward, things change for the better. It is a 13-episode-sequel directed by Marina Khan. Six of the 16 original cast members reprises their roles as Shehnaz Sheikh (the female lead in the original) has quit acting and the rest have since died. New cast members include Alishba Yousuf and Shehryar Munawar Siddiqui in lead roles and Syra Yousuf and Shehroz Sabzwari in supporting roles.[5][1]


  1. "Prime time: A case of old wine". Dawn (newspaper). 28 October 2012. Retrieved 2 April 2019.
  2. Fatima Zakir (6 January 2013). "The new beginning (Tanhaiyaan Naye Silsilay)". Retrieved 2 April 2019.
  3. "Twitter: Tanhaiyaan". Dawn (newspaper). 16 October 2011. Retrieved 2 April 2019.
  4. 'Old but not forgotten: Top 10 Pakistani dramas to re-watch now' Dawn (newspaper), Published 13 March 2015, Retrieved 2 April 2019
  5. "'Tanhaiyan' actors make a comeback with sequel". The Express Tribune (newspaper). 20 October 2012. Retrieved 2 April 2019.
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