November , 2014


We take Dramas Seriously!

  The problem with Humsafar is an excess of riches .. Almost every time I watch ...
This was a mellower episode in terms of story but none the less well-crafted and ...
She’s not worth it.” I think these lines by Farida get to the gist of ...
Its now time for another review, since we're now almost headed towards the closure of ...
When the episode started I was hoping that Kiran would confess her feelings for Dawood ...
  Looks like the nuske from last week didn’t work and now I find my bile ...
Zarmina finally took a stand for her sister and put Attiya in her place by ...
This episode was refreshing in more ways than one. Haider finally took Aiman for the ...
Dua is trying hard to settle in her new life, become Zara and her husband ...
Osama Bin Laden. Just Google this name and I am sure, the results would be ...

Archive for the ‘Hum TV’ Category

Firaaq Episode 6

Posted by RB On October - 18 - 2014 4 COMMENTS

Faida...? Mujhe to hameeshan nuksaan hua hai.

Shohar ko doosri aurat lay gayee.

Betay ko nafrat lay gayee.

Aur beti, beti ko betay lay gaya.

What do you call regret when it constantly surrounds you? What do you call loss which is recurring? What do you call the pain that permeates every inch of your being - physical and mental? For the few last weeks, I've been trying to make sense of Firaaq's underlying themes. It was quickly clear that Firaaq was about relationshipsmoments, and freedom, but it is also equally if not more so about confrontation.

Maa-jee and Shams, Shams and Sara, Paiman and Sara, Shams and Paiman; it's as though iss family ka har shaqs is at loggerheads with the other. If a few can't get over the past, then, some are afraid of what the future might hold. Stuck somewhere between the past and the future, they refuse to live for the present. With the exception of Paiman and Haider, none of the other individuals of this truly "psychotic" family is willing or even trying (for that matter) to embrace the here and now - not Maa-jee, not Shams, not Sara, which is why I think it's easy to relate with Paiman.

What is surprising, though, is that the moment Paiman leaves her mother's house she has the world at her feet -  a handsome suitor, another handsome mentor (for lack of better word), a forgiving mother, confidence (and copious amounts of it), not to mention inner strength. Now, I've always imagined Paiman to be strong, for truly, the weak willed can't survive a mother like Tabassum, but the velocity with which her change is portrayed makes it somewhat unbelievable. Perhaps, gradual progression would have eased the viewer in as well as allowing fluidity to the narrative. Instead, we're bombarded with Paiman confronting Sara's harkats and Shams dhamkiyan.

Sara's unwillingness to confront her demons is evident in her elaborate and byzantine intrigues. Why is she so scared? What secrets lie buried here? If Sara is a case-study in cray-cray (and mohabbat is also a form of pagalpaan khas kar ki for a person like Shams), then, Rumi, her champion and BFF is the sanest voice around. Did you ever think Khizer from Humsafar could be capable of unbiased and reasonable advise? I confess, I did, I've always known Noor Hassan to be a good actor and with his recent forays into difficult roles like ShanakhtGarr Maan Rahe Jaye, and Firaaq, I can see his versatility.

With one confrontation and another conversation down, I wonder, like Paiman, "Har koi ek doosray say kyun chup raha hai?"

Chupta-chupatay we reach the climax and what a climax it was. Shams and Paiman was just the beginning, the best was yet to come! I've said this before and I'll say it again, I find Shams' motives very iffy. Why is he all of a sudden the good baday bhaiya? Why now? He could have gone back for Paiman ages ago, yet, he never did.

I find, Shams is as much Tabsassum's son as she is his mother - they're both controlling creatures! And good on Paiman to burst his bubble and walk out. Kudos! Sanam Saeed is in her element here, in a role she does very, very well. I'm wondering if there's more I'll see from her or is it just full stop at "angry young woman" for now. Seeing her walk out as Sara pleads was where the last six episodes have been building up to, but those that walk out must at some point walk in, and this is why I'm a little concerned for Paiman. As Sara rightly noted, does she really want to go against her family and be without their support? This is where I see Rumi's character fitting in, as Paiman's support system, but I might be completely wrong! Jatay-jatay Paiman gives baday bhai a lesson or two in appreciating those that love him lest they walk out too. Someone has Sara's back, it seems.

Paiman leaving was but one significant event, the other was Maa-jee's realization that Shams no longer has her daughter.

Week after week Uzma Gillani continues to grow from strength to strength. Her and Syed Mazhar Ali are the two reasons that bring me back every Saturday. Uzma sahiba, aap ka naam maine pehli baar Aangan Tehra ki ek kisht mein suna tha jab Shakeel saab kay character Mehboob Ahmed ki saas apni beti, Jahanara Begum (jo Bushra Ansari ka character tha), ko kehti hain: "Mein Uzma Gillani, Rohi Bano adakara nahi hoon jo award ki umeed rakhoon." Waqai aaj samajh gaya ki aap har award kay kabil hi nahi balki deserving bhi hain. Aap ko HUM TV award day na day iss na cheez nay aap ki adakari ko dekha, pehchana, aur bahut appreciate kara! Aapka bahut, bahut shukriya for playing this character. Dil say aap ko salaam, maan gaye.

Every time Maa-jee is on screen with Shams, it is literally fire! These are both similar personalities - stubborn to the core, unwilling to forgive or forget - that clash on matters fundamental: principles, aasoolAaj bhanda phoor kar hi diya Maa-jee, and why should she live with the guilt? Why should she live with the anger? Whatever overarching storyline the marhoom Aabaji has to play, I'm glad to see that Maa-jee is willing to make amends, to look beyond her anger, and is not scared to confront the truth.

Often times, though, with confrontation comes regret and I wonder if that's where we're headed.

Until next week,

Rab Rakha

This is RB signing off. (Tweet me!)

P.S. An excellent episode in terms of pacing. If the direction was crisp, the editing crisper, and the writing, well, Subha'Allah.

Sadkey Tumharey:Episode 2 Review

Posted by Sadaf On October - 17 - 2014 43 COMMENTS








After watching another beautiful episode of Sadkey Tumharey , I am more and more willing to believe that after it’s run of one mediocre series after another Hum Tv is back to setting the high standards it once raised for the whole Pakistani drama industry. Each detail of this well-crafted episode was a delight; from Amin Khaloo’s broken down ,dhakka start Volkswagen and Dr Maqsood’s ever handy bicycle to the coach and tanga Khalil and his mother use to get to the village of Thutti Chakk. The teasing, the genuine affection and all the little gestures families make for each other were so genuine and unforced, that it made me a little teary eyed for the weddings of childhood. Those wonderful, exciting occasions when distant ties were renewed, friendships refreshed and opportunities for fun were so much more important than the overt displays of wealth which have now become the norm.SKT Adnan

There is no doubt “Khali” has come to meet Shanno , but being the ever entitled Pakistani male he won’t admit to it . His mother and Dr Maqsood know he won’t like the food (quite frankly I am on Khalil’s side not being a fan of Wada gosht i.e Beef) myself) but despite their best efforts to keep his nakhras to the minimum, our munda from Lahore cannot be subdued for long.  Khalil doesn’t recognize Shanno and her family but they recognize him. They immediately take offence to his lack of greeting because they already want to break of the engagement made long ago. Times have moved on but in those days such engagements were taken seriously and we can see the hesitance to be open about their change of heart in Shanno’s parent’s eyes.

Adnan Malik is excellent in many scenes but like the director a little shaky in others: the ‘mujhay bhook lagee hai” waley scene could have been done with a little more imagination and control.I can imagine more seasoned actors such as Mikaal or Fawad or even hamarey Hamza bhai wearing that laad and entitlement like a second skin. This seems like a lot of criticism for very handsome Adnan even as I write, because for the most part he is a delight to watch. He and Mahirah have this perfect chemistry and I cannot wait to see more of their interaction.1375112_943182862363425_2381253861056595427_n

Mahirah Khan may not be the most organic actress for some but here she was the perfect heroine Beautiful and majboor , who could fail to love her ? Poor Shanno, excited to meet her fiance but tied to her parents’ wishes like any dutiful daughter. She simply lights up the screen and I loved her “singing”. Actually whoever did the playback was very talented. and it was nice to hear some  Pakistani melodies at a wedding.

The rest of the cast has yet to have much of a role but Dr Maqsood seems like a sweetheart, hopefully we will see more of him. It is nice to see positive male bonding .I hope we see some positive female relationships too.

Ehtashamuddin and Khalil Ur Rahman Qamar have given us a wonderful vision of Pakistani culture and I want to congratulate them for what they left out. So far no over chatty aunties bobbing their heads in a chalaq manner, no bholi larkiya who don’t know how the sun rises and most of all no one has made the slightest effort to be cute. So Far Sadkey tumharey has been a cold ,sweet, sticky Kulfa /kulfi  eaten of a stickas it melted in your fingers at some mela , but now I am hoping the t director will be able to manage the more serious side of the story with equal finesse.

Written By Sadaf



Firaaq Episode 5

Posted by RB On October - 15 - 2014 16 COMMENTS

Ittela dainay aayee hoo ya ijazaat lainay?

Before I venture any further, I have one burning question: Maa-jee ka dialogue kaun likhta hai? Jo bhi likhta hai, janab, bahut khoob. BAHUT KHOOB!

If last week was a hiccup, then, this week Firaaq comes back on surer footing. Finally, we know that Rumi is not in cahoots with Sara, that Sara is manipulating Paiman and Shams, that there is a deep, dark secret to Maa-jee's bitterness, and that Shams is not free of blame. These different plot lines are finally resolved and back on track. Even though I find the story tends to favour Paiman, this week I was happy to see more of Sara, Shams, and Maa-jeeAapki tarhan mein bhi yahi sooch raha hoon ki Rumi ka kya role? Khair...

I started on Sara's side, so it only makes sense to clarify why I gave her the benefit of the doubt, hoping against hope, contradicting every naysayer that she would not be the manipulating bhabhi. Alas, all my hopes were scattered down a drain when it dawned on me that Sara was playing "Tell-tale Tallulah"! Woh kya hai? Sara's antics of kahani bunoo-ing from one person to another make sense at one level; she doesn't want Shams to find out about her relationship the Imroze. Okay, understood. But why the shenanigans? Couldn't a simple, "Paiman, mein tumse ek bast karma chahati hoon" suffice? At another, perhaps, deeper level, I wonder, if there's more to Imroze and Sara than meets the eye.

Cybil's presence and confidence as Sara pulls this role through every week. She needs to work on her accent among other things, but I can see her doing well in a role that demands a strong female character. As for Sara, well, for a character that started out being likeable, in fact, I thought hers was the most genuine character out of the lot, the sudden twisting of the plot makes me wonder who's really looking out for Paiman. Kaun?

Is it Rumi? For he seemed to be all hands at cleaning up Sara's mess. He even went as far as confronting her by going: "Mein Shams ko phone karoon?". Kudos, Noor Hassan, seeing you play a character that might be selfless is indeed refreshing. After Humsafar's Khizer and Garr Maan Reh Jaye's Farrukh, I can see why you'd want to spice things up a bit. Let's hope I didn't jinx it!

What about Imroze?  I still think he's too quick, too fast, and too smooth, which makes the present fun and games but the future might not be. Not surprisingly, of all the people to parkho Imroze and do it well was Maa-jee. Uzma, Uzma, Uzma, aap nay parda par aag laga di. Not only can you hold down the entire show by yourself, even your chemistry with Syed Mazhar Ali is simply perfect. His shy and subservient Haider plays off beautifully with your controlling and decisive Tabassum! Add to this mix a discredited daughter and her beau and we have fireworks!

Could it get any better than this:

Paagaloon ka daktar dhoonda hai tumnay. Good. Shams ka bhi ilaaj karwa daina issay.

Yeh jo pasand ki shaadiyan hoti hain na, yeh aksar nakaam hoti hain.

Farmabardaari bol rahee hai. Jin mardon ki farmabardaari bolnay lagay samjho woh dhokho dain gay. Aur ek baat aur farmabardaari bolti nahi nazar aati hai jo mujhe yahan nazar nahi aa rahee.

Even if I tried, I couldn't do justice to Maa-jee, her anger, and how Imroze had to live through it. What we did find out from that rather awkward meeting is that there's a reason to Maa-jee's craziness. Let's hope we hear, and I would say see, more of it! Don't you all want to see the gore aurat? I DO! If she's half as pretty as Imroze's clients...

All in all a decent episode, I predict more fireworks next week. As the plot thickens, I bid you adieu.

Till next week,

Rab Rakha

RB (Tweet me!)

Sadkey Tumharey:Episode 1 Review

Posted by Sadaf On October - 11 - 2014 42 COMMENTS







If someone were to ask if such a time of sweetness and innocence ever really did exist, I would answer: yes it did, and if it didn't ……it should have. Watching the first episode of Sadkey Tumharey was as magical as the promos and teasers promised. It was as if the fabric of time and had frayed just a little allowing the viewer to slip back into a much simpler time where there was no internet and no cell phones. Ehatashamuddin has brought a beautiful vision full of light and gentle colours to our screens that which I hope will keep us just as entranced till the end.

Shanno played by the ever lovely Mahirah Khan is infatuated with her fiancé and Khala ka beta Khalil, even though she hasn’t met him in ten years. Khalil(Adnan Malik),  is just not interested in some cousin in a dusty village and asks their mutual cousin Maqsood to tell her not to think of him.Even  Shanno’s parents have changed their minds ; after so many years and so little interaction they too want to move on .  But Shanno cannot move on , she longs to meet Khalil the center of her dreams. She  and her friends go to  pray at a dargah and Khalil sees her in his dreams. So the scene is set for them to meet at a family wedding.SKT Mahirah

One of the great strengths of this story are the family scenes , the little hierarchies and most of all the love shared between them . It was heartening to hear Shannos’ father wonder if breaking off the engagement would hurt his daughter’s feelings and even more sweet to see Shanno and her sisters give up their right to the first roti to their ever hungry little brother . The way Khalil’s father insists a souteli Khala is just as good as a saggi Khala and how he should talk to his elder cousin with respect are all  values woven into our daily which have not changed with the passage of time.SKT Adnan

The story, like the times is not complex but the full HumTv (read Momina Duraid) treatment it blooms like a flower. Each scene was a well-crafted piece of art, from the village of Bhopalwalla to the house in Lahore. With a story like this there is a danger of over-romanticizing the past but so far the director has managed not to blur the sharp edges of reality. The dirty village street , the dusty houses , the importance of Maqsood’s bicycle and even Shanno’s greedy little brother Haider  all lend enough depth to make the softer images just possible. As a Punjabi I could really relate to all the intricacies of family life portrayed, even if live sat samundar paar .Apart from the slightly overdone “going to the Darga” scenes there was a wonderful authenticity to this episode that is rooted deep in our culture .  There is no doubt Khalil Ur Rehman is genius at script writing but unlike Pyarey Afzal the dialogues were not allowed to overshadow the actual story. There was more showing than telling ,at least in this episode .SKT Adnan2

It is easy enough to sit spellbound just by Mahirah Khan’s beauty but her acting is well up to par too. She seems very comfortable as Shanno and the only complaint I can muster is that she did not sound Punjabi enough in the first few scenes. Suffice to say in our recent interview with Khalil Ur Rehman (coming soon) he said she had done complete justice Shanno’s   character. Adnan Malik is nice surprise, carrying of Khalil Ur Rehman Qamar’s autobiographical role with a touch less swagger than the dialogues would suggest, ultimately making him much more likable. Even at a distance Mahirah and Adnan have that special screen chemistry required to make a romance like this work, so it looks as if their actual scenes together will be fascinating.

The rest of the cast looks at ease in all their roles and as yet no one seems out of place. The only thing annoying the heck out of me is Shanno’s best friend’s makeup. Whoever gave that poor girl that bucket of white out was not her friend. A note to our actors/actresses/producers.. In case you hadn’t noticed we are Pakistani ..Some of us are white, some of us are brown and we are every colour in between.. Please accept this and let everyone feel beautiful the way God made them.

Thank you Momina Duraid , Director Ehtashamuddin  and team Sadkey tumharey for bringing back the fragrance of a time not so long ago. Most of all thank you Khalil Ur Rehman Qamar for sharing part of your life in the form of this serial with us  .

Written By Sadaf

Na Maloom Afraad Review

Posted by Faraz On October - 10 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Mubarak Ho … Halaat Kharab hogaye Shakeel Bhai.. And this very one line ,Ladies and gentlemen , Sets the tone for a hilarious ride called   Na Maloom Afraad!

Before I may begin let’s get one thing Straight, Na Maloom afraad is NOT inspired / Copied from Hera Pheeri,   Yes the idea is similar. i.e 3 broke men coming together to hatch a plan on how to get rich quickly. But that’s about it. Na Maloom Afraad is very Pakistani, as much as it could get! And to further add as much as karachite it could get!

Naa Maloom Afraad doesn’t promise to be different. It packs in ample laughs, illogical situations, rib-tickling sequences and witty one-liners in those 2.30 hours. In fact, writer-director Nabeel Qureshi borrows everything available on the shelf and comes up with a plot that may sound silly to a few, but nonetheless succeeds in its endeavor of making people laugh.

Naa Maloom Afraad is a story of 3 Halaat kay maray , mazloom Pakistani souls,  Moon (Mohsin Abbas Haider) , Farhan( Fahad Mutafa),   & Shakeel bhai (Javed Sheikh)  , bought together by fate . In pursuit of their dreams. They only have one aim,to get rich as quick as possible. Together, they hatch an interesting plan and wait for the moment to execute it and during their quest,they find themselves in one big mess. Were they able to get it accomplished? Were they able to overcome all the obstacle in their path and get what they wanted?   To answer that ,You would have to watch the movie..

Na maloom Afraad is based on a very interesting story line. An original Pakistani story which Is based on something every Pakistani could relate to.at the same time. It’s like a breath of fresh air. I remember how much I had stressed that we need to make movies for everyone. Some masla here and there. Some nice songs. Some romance and a good story line. For some odd reasons our movies were either way too “ Vey Gujra”  or way too serious!   Mein hoon shahid Afridi did the trick and Na maloom Afraad is another movie that falls in to the same genre.   Like the famous dialogue, Filmein sirf 3 cheezon ki waja say chalti hain… “ Entertaiment  , Entertaiment, Entertainment” and Na Maloom Afraad is filled with it.

NMA Starts really well. With straight out of life characters and incidents. Its commending to see how the writer duo (Nabeel Qureshi & Fizza Ali Meerza) haven’t gotten into showing off the intellectual side by showing oh I know so much!! Look at it! .. Instead they have focused on the basics and what comes out is a really well shaped movie.

To be honest NMA comes as a surprise . Even the pre-polls showed 021 as the 1st choice for the movie goers to watch this festive season. However NMA has taken everyone by surprise

It will be unfair if we don’t applaud the efforts of the Cinematographer (Rana Kamran)  , Yes you can see Nabeel’s input in it, however Na Maloom Afraad is a real showcase of Karachi, the streets, the road side bun kabab stall, chaat and gola ganda at dhora jee, dhaabay ki chai, strikes, jalao gherao. The famous locales of Saddar and the wonderful old architecture of Karachi has been shot so beautifully that you can’t stop yourself falling in love with this amazing city!  I remember I went to Newyork right after I had seen Kal ho na ho…. That’s the power of great cinematography and trust me after watching NMA, you would want to see Karachi! The real Karachi!

Nabeel Questhi's writing and direction are aimed at the masses. He scores brownie points as a director however as a writer, he could've packed in more gags in the 1st half. The dialogues are amazing and have been taken straight out of life, something which everyone can relate to, as I mentioned before.. The movie is very very Pakistani !

Shani & Kami ,Vicky Haider’s music is of the popular genre. “Darbaar “Reminds you of   “Mein Pershan” from Ishq Zaday, “Purr “Purr” sung by Sajjad Ali is good.   However the pick of the lot has to been billi, which is rightly aimed at the masses and has the right feel to it.The tracks alsohelps in uplifting the pace of the movie which was really needed towards end.

Naa Maloom Afraad belongs to Fahad Mustafa and Mohsin Haider from Scene A to Z. Infact  to be honest Fahad Mustafa doesn’t try any heroics and remains honest to the character, there are times when the actor takes a back seat and let the debutant Mohsin Haider do the talking and that is the real strength  of the movie.  Mohsin Haider comes as a surprise package, his comic timings is awesome and its really heartening to see such an amazing talent debut in a grand way. In fact some of the best one liners are delivered by Mohsin and how well he has done that. Haider is, for sure the Star of the future. The lad can act! Sing as well as Dance.  Just need to brush up on his looks and hair style. Some tweaks here and there and we will have the super star! That’s exactly how super stars are created!

Javed Sheikh Delivers are towering performance. Very articulate and to the point. In fact it’s his experience and maturity that’s fills the gaps and any short coming!  The chemistry between all 3 of them is amazing and it shows

Salman Shahid (gogi) as the main villain is great. In fact his performance will be remembered for a long time!  Watch out for his dialogues!

The movie is boosted with many small cameos. However the one that stands tall amongst the rest is Saleem Mairaj’s scene. , which is for sure going to bring the house down! Take a bow Saleem Mairaj!

Urwa Hocane (Naina) as the leading lady doesn’t get much scope,at the same time. She is amongst the weakest link of the movie. It’s been righty said that movies are real tester and it really shows. Urwa falls flat. I guess the movie did not have any scope for the mazloom rooti dhoti woman and hence she couldn’t keep up to it.

The new comer Kubra Khan (as hina Merchant)  is a decent addition. However is hardly there and also needs to brush up on her urdu skills! Mehwish Hayat’s Track is not interesting, there wasn’t any need for her induction in the story. The movie could have done much better with her item song only!

Any shortcomings?  Yes, The Screen Play could have been much tighter, especially in the 1st half, the movie does drag in the beginning and few minutes in the 2nd half. However picks up right after the item number, The movie should have been trimmed at least by 30-45 minutes to keep it pace going!, however in all honesty, it will take some time before our movies can get that. We can see the rawness which was bound to happen as this is a fresh product with almost zero experience of prior Film Making. We could see reminisce of Pakistani Dramas and that’s what our directors and story writers need to learn. How to disconnect themselves from the Drama Mode!

On the whole Naa Maloom Afraad has ample masala to keep its target audience, the masses mainly -- more than happy. At the box-office, the film has opened to a thunderous response, the movie has already surpassed the business of BANG BANG in Pakistani theatres, a total Paisa Wasool Flick aimed for the masses. Has all it takes to attain the 'Hit' status due to the huge, record-breaking initial from the movie goers


Written by Faraz

Firaaq Episode 4

Posted by RB On September - 29 - 2014 17 COMMENTS

Lakeeron mein kismet ka haal chupa hota hai jo siraf dekhnay walay ko nazar aata hai... Yahan dekhnay walay bahut hain, dikhanay walay bahut kaam, or should I say wali.

As far as episodes go and I'd even say stories, this is Firaaq's first hiccup. Notwithstanding progression of narrative, I'm surprised that no sooner is Paiman out from her captivity that everyone around her wants to see her settled. Arrey let her live her life, please and thanks! Imroze, who I have considerable doubts about, is head over heels in mohabbat with Paiman. Rumi is as confused (something Noor Hassan is very good at portraying) as ever. Sara is matchmaking (and to think I actually liked Sara). Shams is gloating (to Maa-jee, who else?!). Really?! What happened to consistency? To logical conclusions? To (dare I say it) sanity? Is this the end of a good series? All we can get from you now is three "good" episodes, Hum TV?

Having said that, I think the reason behind such quick revelations - one after the other - is (as I've said before) because Firaaq is a story of consequences and not actions. The quick narrative here allows Aabis Raza and Mustafa Afridi to dwell on what happens after these revelations. Mohabbat kay baad kya? Shaadi kay baad kya? Maa-je ka kya? Aur sabsay bada sawaal Paiman ka kya? It is these questions that (I believe) form the bulk of our story and I'm certain we will come back to them.

So essential is Paiman in this narrative that all plot lines emerge, revolve, and merge from, around, and into her. Is it any wonder, then, that everyone seems to be mandara-ooing around her?

Let's start with Imroze, a qualified psychologist or psychiatrist or jo bhi woh hai, who's fallen head over heels in love with our damsel in distress. Sadaf, my fellow reviewer, rightly brought up that perhaps, men need a victim, that they need someone to save. Is that why Imroze likes Paiman? From my point of view (nukta-e-nazar) and in my experience men, especially those settled in life at least professionally, prefer a partner that can complement them. As much as I see Paiman has been sheltered, and rather forcefully at that, from the world, seeing these two together as a couple is beyond me. How? Why? Moreover, no one falls in love in three episodes, this is not a Bollywood film! Hum TV get your act straight. Khirad and Ashar didn't fall in love until mid-series. Similarly, Kashaf and Zaroon couldn't stand each other before they were married and perhaps even after. To phir Paiman ko itni jaldi mohabbat kaisay ho gayee? Does she even know what mohabbat is? How do we know this charming doctor is not out to get into her shalwar only?

Which brings me to the whole "Do you trust me?" situation. Paiman, sweety, meri baat par gaur karo, jab koi mard kisi khatoon ko yeh lawaz kehta hai uskay do hi matlab hotay hai, pehla, ki woh aap ko dhooka dainay wala hai, aur doosra, ki woh aap ko dhoka day chukka hai. Of course, this is in relation to a particular kind of situation, i.e., between two lovers (or in this case would-be-lovers). Baaton mein yaad aaya, Paiman Bibi, aap ek qafas say nikal kar doosray qafas mein jaanay kay liye betaab kyun hai? Zara mujhe yeh samjhayeen?

This love game (I wish it was the Lady Gaga kind!) is yet to mark its third shikaar. Humara awaara and nikaara painter, Rumi, is being pushed to see similarities between Paiman and himself by Bhabhi Sara. Inasmuch as I find Sara to be hesitant about Imroze and his relationship with Paiman for her own reasons, I cannot help but think she's on to something. Both Shams and Sara have known Rumi for a long time, they all get along rather well, Rumi and Paiman share similar interests, he's immature enough to balance out her reserved and cautious ways, so, yes, I think Sara is right to suggest that these two should seriously think about the other. Noor Hassan's Rumi is an easy pill to swallow, his portrayal of carefree, no nakhara type of guy who's concerned how he'll manage to balance Paiman is wholly genuine. The fact that he's unconvinced even the second time around makes me think he just might have more depth than I previously thought.

Whether Hassan's Rumi can provide Paiman what she needs is another story altogether. After spending an eternity with Maa-jee, Rumi will be a gentle breeze who'll draw Paiman out from her shell in ways Imroze never will, but the sad thing is Paiman will never trust the painter as she does the shrink. So, for once, I'm going to agree with Maa-jee: "Pagaloon ka daktar" indeed. Mohib Mirza looks the part of a young professional (even with that rather odd shoe situation). He's confident, sauve, dapper, and sophisticated, adding a dimension to Imroze that no other actor could have. It doesn't hurt that he looks good with Sanam Saeed, and boy these two do look good together. His Imroze is (for the time being) the centre of attention.

As is evident, there is a certain hesitation around Imroze from all quarters - Shams because he's another man interested in his baby sister, Rumi because they're friends, Maa-jee... well Maa-jee hates everyone, and Sara for her own secretive reason. Its his profession that brought these individuals together and maybe it'll be the reason that breaks them up too.

Breaking up, though, brings me to Sara. If anyone is going to feel the repercussions of this relationship it is Sara. When I first reviewed Firaaq, I hated Cybil's accent, but as they say things grown on you and I've realized her accent isn't half as bad as Kanza's in Numm. Not to mention she can act! Cybil's Sara is always well put together, she seems and comes across as mature, and balances out Shams very well, which is why I think she wants Rumi to settle down with Paiman. Cybil's acting is not perfect but it isn't bad either. Accents, voice work, diction these are things time, experience, and classes can take care of, screen presence, maturity, the ability to fit a role are things that one can't buy as easily. Imagine if Meera was playing Paiman?

Oh the horror!

Horror brings me to Maa-jee. And boy was I disappointed to see just a snippet of her. What did I say last week: The only person who genuinely cares for Paiman is Haider and this week Shams made it very clear that his reasons were far from philanthropic. A beautifully shot scene which captures the essence of a rather fraught meeting (kudos DoP!) Shams intentions are rendered visible. My only concern is what will happen when Paiman falls? Who will pick her up? Kaun? Haider? Rumi? Shams? Maa-jee? Sara? Imroze? Kaun?

Here's hoping this is just one hiccup in a smooth meal.

Until next week,

Rab Rakha

RB (Tweet me!)

Firaaq Episode 3

Posted by RB On September - 22 - 2014 13 COMMENTS

Yeh main hoon: bejaan, berang...


That ever elusive thing that even the freest amongst us never truly achieve. For the lucky, though, it is - on that rare occasion - a feat made possible by fate, but I wonder at what cost? Firaaq, I find, is not just about relationships and moments, it is also a story about freedom, about the freedom to live, to laugh, to learn, to be, and most of all to love. Yet, often times, as is typical of life, with freedom comes rupture. A rupture that is still to be fully realized.

As Paiman walks with bhai-ji towards freedom (at last!), Maa-jee is left shattered but definitely not broken. After all, she's made of tough stuff. In a beautifully shot sequence between Tabassum, Shams, Paiman, and that staircase, I could feel the anxiety all around. Maa-jee and her doubts, Shams' quiet faith in his sister or at least her ability to finally stand up for herself, and Paiman's one chance at a normal life. The way this scene was conceptualized, framed, and shot, it seemed we were almost there, behind the stairs, on the stairs, looking down at Shams, looking up at Maa-jee. The DoP does an excellent job of visualizing how Paiman felt in that house, like a stranger within very familiar walls. I can easily say this was one of the best scenes so far.

Leave it to HUM TV to make a rupture look beautiful, I'd even say poetic, but at the same time not shy away from its consequences.

Tabassum's controlling ways have found yet another victim, on the same path as the previous one. Seeing her come to grips with yet another betrayal was rather telling. Her bleeding finger as a symbol of her loss. Shayad apnay khoon ka rang dekh kar Maa-jee ko kuch ehsaas ho jaye ga, if only about her zakhams. For a woman that's strong willed and stubborn, I couldn't see her reacting in any other way, as she lives with the guilt unable to come to terms with it. Was it really her fault? Did she drive both her children away?

Even though Maa-jee refuses to think of Paiman, going so far as to admonish poor Haider at zikhar karo-ing about her, Paiman can't help but think of Maa-jee. As she walks out of the house - shy and insecure, as she speaks to Imroze and Rumi - in a flurry of ji's and ji nahi's, as she dresses up, as she carries herself, Paiman is firmly under the shadow of the woman who once nurtured her. A woman who refuses to think about her now lost daughter.

Haider, on the other hand, is yet to leave Paiman. His phone call was clearly that of a gentle, caring, and nurturing man, albeit sautayla, but by no means step-fatherly. Of all the people in Paiman's life, Haider, is perhaps the only one who genuinely wants the best for her (with no ulterior motive). Shams' wants to inflict pain on Maa-jee by giving Paiman a new lease on life, Maa-jee wants to keep her perpetually in qaid (and that is one literal and metaphorical qaid!), Imroze and Rumi have their own agendas, as does Sara, which only leaves Haider to cushion Paiman's fall, and that fall will come. Seeing this dynamic between two people unrelated by blood but still bound by familial ties is a refreshing sight. See, HUM TV, normal people do form bonds with each other and it doesn't take khoon kay rishtay either!

And rishtas there are many. Some that Paiman's left behind, new ones she's yet to fully explore, and still newer ones she going to make. I find the dynamic between Sara, Shams, and Paiman is going to come to a head especially when both her suitors will start lining up in front of her darwaza for more than just answers. I wonder, though, what it is about a girl like Paiman that a sassy painter like Rumi finds attractive or a qualified professional (take that with whatever pinch of salt) like Imroze finds irresistible?

She's innocent, she's naive, she's inexperienced, but does that make her sought after? And if so, why? Isn't this just catering to the neeyat of the desi man?

Speaking of men, let's start with the fashion faux pas' this week. What in heavens name was the costume designer thinking when he paired up Imroze's (drab!) brown suit with black leather shoes? WHAT, WHAT, WHAT were you thinking? Similarly, Shams' khakis were paired with patent leather black shoes. Seriously? Raza sahab, apnay costume designer ko bahar nikalain, s/he is a disaster! Although if the boys were given some lacklustre fashion choices, the girls were absolutely stunning. Cybil Chaudhry looks ever inch a sophisticated wife and homemaker, Maa-jee is all shades of anger personified, and Sanam Saeed does justice to the role solely by the choice of her dupattas. From plain orange and blue chiffon dupattas that hang off of her she's branching out to more colourful, printed ones that channel her experiences, her fashion choices are changing from berang to rang-barang. This subtle shift so beautifully executed and portrayed by a piece of clothing is attention to detail that I find commendable.

Looks like that costume designer still has a job, but coming back to the boys.

Imroze and Rumi are one odd couple. Like friends in this part of the world (and believe me friends, especially desi ones, become just like family when you're away from home), I see them spending time together not because they're lonely or because they don't have relationships, but because they're able to understand one another, which is what friends do, but how long will that understanding last when love is the ultimate prize? Clearly, Mohib Mirza and Noor Hassan act well because they have everyone believing otherwise, as though there's something more to that friendship. I personally find that portraying a comfortable friendship be it between two men or two women is important kyunki milna, khana na banana, baatein karna, is what normal people do!

Waise khanay say yaad aaya Noor-o-Hassan sahab, instagram par to pakhwan bana bana kar post kartay ho aur apna aziz dost kay liye kuch bhi nahi. Ya phir drama mein thoodi maardani dikhani thi?

Doosri aur ittefaq ki baat hai: Saaaaaaaaruuuuuuuuu! Becharay Noor ki kismet mein hameeshan kisi Sara say hi dhokha khana likha hai kya? Yahan bhi Sara ko "item" kahe kar chaidna woh bhi uskay shohar kay samanay. Old habits die hard as they say. Although Shams I wouldn't be scared, if I were you, aur kuch nahi to meri baat par hi yakeen kar lo. Here's hoping Noor Hassan isn't the middle man again. We've seen your Khizer now we want to see your Rumi, Mr. Hassan.

Three episodes in, Firaaq has me intrigued but I want to see more of Maa-jee and Haider, which we didn't see as much this week. I want to see more of Paiman and Imroze too. Those two actually do look good together. None of this looking good, though, would have been possible without the adept camerawork and exceptional editing. These two strengths make Firaaq a cut above the rest this season and even this year.

I patiently wait for next week.

Till then,

Rab Rakha,

This is RB signing off (Tweet me!)

Firaaq Episode 2

Posted by RB On September - 14 - 2014 34 COMMENTS

Maa-jee say darti ho.

Nahi, unki umr say darti hoon. Betay kay baad agar beti bhi apni manmaani karnay lagi to woh nahi sahe paayen gi. 

Moments - beautiful, everlasting, painful, striking, filled with love, and maybe even anger. We all have them.

Firaaq's second episode gave me quite a few of these moments. I saw the initial curiosity between two strangers somehow tied by fate, circumstance, and familial bonds, as I saw Paiman and Sara. Then, there was the banter between Amroze and Roomi, which is somewhat telling of things yet to come. I felt Sara's unease and Shams' withdrawal at Maa-jee's revelation. Momentarily, my heart went out for Paiman as she sat gardening with her sautala-Abbu, only to be suddenly shocked by Tabassum's fit of anger.

In fact, I'm still reeling from that shock! Phew!

As I sit here typing, there's a funny thing I just noticed, for an episode that had so many moments, the story is still held captive by Maa-jee. Kyun? Well, Paiman is still stuck in that house. From last week's promo, I thought Sanam Saeed was supposed to leave suitcase in hand with bhai-ji, yet, we end with these stern words: "Tum yeh kamra chood kar nahi jaa sakti, bas."

Maa-jee, mera ek mashwara maanay, hooni ko koi nahi tal sakta.

Even though I'm slightly disappointed at the stilted progression of the narrative (we all know Paiman is heading out, then, why the less than cliffy cliffhanger?!), there is enough in this week's episode to keep me temporarily satiated.

As much as the narrative focuses on Shams and Sara's relationship or Maa-jee's crazy antics (really with that danda?), which are important to the overall structure, this is undoubtedly Paiman's story. We see how she acts and thinks, we are made to feel for her, for her situation. Our voice resonates with that of Haider, "Iss ghar mein tum murjha jao gi." Sanam Saeed breathes life into Paiman, and I know some may disagree, but her expressions especially her eyes convey far more pain than they are meant too. Paiman is a sad, quite, demure, and reclusive creature not by choice but by circumstance. And Saeed's big glasses, scrunchie-d hair, printed suits coupled with the dialogues and her acting present a character that is at once conflicted by right and wrong, by perceptions and desires, and most importantly, by a question: should she live for herself or for someone else.

Sixteen years of living like a prisoner, no matter how beautiful the cage, can take a toll on anyone and Paiman is no different. She is bursting at the seams to leave, to explore, to experience, to make mistakes, to fall in love, to be heartbroken, and maybe even find herself. Experiences, as Haider rightly notes, she's being denied by a mother who's lived her life. Ironic isn't it?

The source of Paiman's earthly misery, Maa-jee, is an enigma (and not the good kind). Why is this woman so hateful, so insecure, so angry? If there's anyone in need of Amroze's services (and desperately at that) it is Tabassum. I still haven't gotten over her danda antic (and this is just the beginning), I'm not sure whether to laugh, be horrified, or maybe feign disgust? Either way Uzma Gillani is a formidable powerhouse of acting in Firaaq, because this story needed a villain like her.

In many ways, Maa-jee is a warped and twisted version of Farida from Humsafar, which is why, I think, Shams left. His "betrayal" of mother and sister had nothing to do with Haider, in fact, Haider served as a ready and easy excuse for escape, but I could be wrong. Shams is a character full of anger, which bursts forth on occasion such as when Sara goes to the park or decides to visit her saas (of course, thanks to Dr. Amroze). Seeing Junaid Khan being every bit as dark as his Adam from Mata-e-Jaan Hai Tu, as he waited quietly for Sara and then just stood there looking at her: goosebumps (no, seriously!). Let's hope HUM TV has insurance lest the character get into Juni's head.

Getting into heads, though, is Dr. Amroze's forte. After all, that psychotic couple is still in therapy. Waise, HUM TV nay itnay paisay kharchay, location par, kapdoon par, cast par, thoda paisa extras par bhi kharch laitay, baat yahni choodon ga, as they say, akalmand ko isharaa kafi. I have yet to see Mohib Mirza truly woven into this story, he seems (as of now) to be an outsider looking in, which is why seeing him in a rather candid conversation with Roomi was a tad bit revealing. These two have an odd friendship, they sit around while one paints the other, talking about tanhaai and women in their lives. Could this be yet another love triangle with both Amroze and Roomi falling for Paiman? Triangles or not, the boys looked good together, be it Roomi and Shams or Amroze and Roomi, their interaction wasn't stunted but rather natural and impromptu (what with Noor Hassan laughing through his dialogues?!).

For an episode that had promised us a climax, we were let down, but by no means disappointed. The writing, editing, direction, and acting are in tandem with the overall narrative. The camerawork was equally flawless and the background score never disappoints. But I hope they'll give us some silences (awkward or otherwise) - like they did today with noises of traffic, of the wind, of rippling water - because the story deserves them.

Till next week,

Rab Rakha

This is RB signing off. (Tweet me!)

Firaaq Episode 1

Posted by RB On September - 8 - 2014 22 COMMENTS

Cast: ✓

Sets and Art Direction: ✓

Location: ✓

Costumes: ✓

Background Score and OST: ✓

Director: ✓

Producer: ✓

Just the other day, Sadaf emailed me about an interview with Firaaq's director Aabis Raza, asking if I had any questions for him. After pondering for a while, I sent Sadaf a somewhat long list of questions hoping I'd get some sense of how Raza sahab thinks, if not an outright indicator of how he chooses his scripts. As I started writing this review I couldn't help but go back to that list of questions, and what jumped out at me, as I'm sure for everyone else, was why mental illness? Pagalpan kyun?

If the past is any measure of a successful drama, then, I am sad to say that even with all the checkmarks acknowledged above, Firaaq ostensibly lacks the magic ingredient: a good story. Take for instance, Kadurat, with a revenge hungry Sanam Saeed, or Main Deewani, jahan Saniya Shamshad har booday mard ki thi deewani, even Kankar, for that matter, with its dark and sinister theme challenged our assumptions of what a good drama can and should be. Yet, the former two - Kadurat and Main Deewani - failed to impress, in fact, I'd say they were two steps short of a disaster, and only Kankar managed to send the right ripples across Pakistani television screens, clearly audiences (myself included) wanted more than a sarsari look at revenge, domestic abuse, and obsession.

Having said that, I think, Firaaq has more substance to its characters and more nuance to its story than Raza's previous experiments. A point that'll become clearer by the end of this review.

My next question (more to myself than to Raza sahab) was what did Hum TV expect from this drama. This isn't a romantic, boy meets girl story, which many amongst us crave, then, why the stellar cast, expensive locations, flawless sets, and beautiful costumes. After Laa, Janam Jali, Aahista, Aahista, and not to mention the two train-wrecks above, it is a fair question: Can a drama like Firaaq really change their fortunes?

As I speculate and ponder, I'll leave you with first impressions.

Relationships - broken, turbulent, traumatic, and painful. These are just a handful of adjectives that describe Mustafa Afridi's script.

Tabassum or the rather daunting Maa-jee, played by Uzma Gellani, is the source of many (if not all) these descriptors. From what I can gather, Maa-jee is one unhappy soul, as she constantly berates her daughter, Paiman (Sanam Saeed), insults her husband, Haider (Mazhar Ali), and is unforgiving of her son, Shams (Junaid Khan). In one brilliantly scripted scene after another, we get an insight into Maa-jee's irrational hatred of all things - tangible and otherwise. She doesn't like salespeople (and clearly Panama City is another Pindi), she has a problem with Paiman's maila dupatta, she sees Haider (who happens to be her second husband) as a baagi, an instigator of all things troublesome.

Maa-jee's severe control issues have led Shams to viscerally escape her talons, an aspect that has a significant bearing on not only their relationship but also their psyche. For Shams, it means an incomplete married life after three years of matrimony. Something that is beginning to sink in for his wife Sara (Cybil Chaudhry). As much as I feel for Sara, her accented Urdu, perhaps, that's the reason she got the part, leaves me unsatisfied in some ways. For a character I want to empathize with, the moment she starts talking I can't help but dismiss her as a firangi.

The same can't be said for Paiman. If Uzma Gellani is every shade the Bader Khalil from Marasim, then, Saeed is far removed from her traditional safety zone of an "angry young woman". Here, I see a girl that's meek and timid because of her surroundings, but by no means lost and hopeless because of them. The briefest of interaction with Uncle Haider is testament enough. There is (and this is something I have always felt about Ms. Saeed's abilities as an actress) an inner strength to Paiman that is visible even as she in the clutches of an overbearing mother. The manner in which she gets up mid-way from her meal, walks to the laundry room, brings out the maila dupatta for Maa-jee to inspect was a highlight of this episode (at least for me).

Rounding off these two interconnected family units (Maa-jee, Haider, and Paiman & Shams and Sara) are Roomi (Noor Hassan) and Amroze (Mohib Mirza). Roomi is bffs with both Shams and Sara, and also happens to be acquainted with Amroze, a psychologist (yaani pagaloon ka daaktar, to quote Maa-jee). In fact, it is Roomi who suggests Sara pay Amroze a visit. This is where I find the writer and director working in sync because if the first half was being set up as "Maa-jee is the root cause of all problems", then, the second half was about the impact this troubling relationship has had on her off-spring, a scene convincingly portrayed by Sara and Amroze.

Their conversation about insecurities, mental states, and how they're affecting Sara and Shams' life is not an easy subject to explore. What Afridi and Raza are trying to do here is not easily accessible at the surface level. It's like making a drama where one is searching for God (Shehr-e-Zaat) or their own pehchaan (Laa or Shanakht), and we all know the anjaam to these experiments. So, as our bahu makes her way into shohar-ji's ghar in search of her own happiness, I can't help but think things are set for a quick and fast confrontation.

So, do I find the story lacking? No, not not at all, I actually like the idea (and much of it stems from the execution). The writer has given away enough but still held my curiosity, I'd even go so far as to say interest. I find Firaaq to be a story of consequences rather than actions, and that is in itself refreshing. With so much going for Firaaq, I doubt Hum TV can mess this up, but then again there's never a guarantee.

Till next week.

Shaba Khair aur Rab Rakha

RB (Tweet me!)

This review has been cross-posted here.

Mausam Episode 15

Posted by RB On August - 31 - 2014 10 COMMENTS

Sahi ya galat...? Right or wrong...? Who's to decide?

There is a tried and tested trope in Pakistani dramas, from ever since I can remember, which goes something like that very famous Western: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Whether or not our dramas are in direct correlation with/to Hollywood Westerns (you'd be surprised!), they certainly are in keeping with black and white compartmentalization of characters, stories, and emotions.

Mausam is one such story of right and wrong. No, I'm not complaining, I've enjoyed the ride so far and I probably will lap up whatever conclusion HUM TV dishes our way (do any of us have a choice?!). The reason I bring this up is because I see the plot headed to its typical fairytale conclusion: our knight in shining armour aka Hashir; the scheming, evil step-sister aka Shazia; and our damsel in distress aka Saman. Scheming as Shazia is, I wonder if she's the only villain around. There's always Faisal to pass the blame in this love game!

So, let's start with the question that's been at the tip of my tongue ever since I saw this episode: Is Saman really a Romaisa 2.0?

Time and again, she's seen Shazia and Faisal sneaking behind her back, she's been warned by her mother, by Hashir, hell, even her intuition tells her something is up, then, why the stupidity, Saman? Why? Kya waqai aap ko khabar nahi thi. See what I did there? No, arre OST sun lo.

For the amount of fuss being made about Shazia and Faisal together, its surprising that we suddenly see them meeting in parks (and boy if those benches could talk we'd be hearing one story too many!), going on long drives, and even having ice creams together (Humsafar really has had an impact!). These fun and frolics of the illicit kind aside, I'm still not convinced that Shazia is out to ruin Saman's "married" life. After all, isn't a "happily married" Faisal in Shazia's best interests?

Given that she's indulging in behaviour unbefitting a sali towards her jijaji, I wonder what she wants more: to punish Saman or to acquire Hashir. Whatever her intentions, her actions are far from justified, yet, they certainly make her character more conflicted. As I said last week, I find Shazia's moments of introspection rather telling. Like a betrayed lover she's replayed sequence after sequence of the events that led her to her current state. She's even accepted she'll never be the Saman Hashir wants. Kitni badkismet mohabbat hai meri indeed.

Iss badkismet mohabbat ka doosra shikaar, Hashir, bhi utna hi pareshaan hai. If Shazia spends time lamenting her fate, Hashir does much of the same in hopes of finally achieving some form of peace. I have to say, as much as I've spent time hating on Hashir's mother, this week Auntji stole the show. From the moment she walks in on Hashir contemplating his next move, Mummji has something on her mind" "Kya sooch rahe thay? Mujhe batao shayad mein tumhari kuch maddad mar sakoon." They say that help comes in mysterious ways, shayad Khuda'Talah ka nizam hi aaisa hai. This short but very poignant scene between an estranged mother and her son, who happen to have come a long way since the first episode, was simply perfect. Way to bring the story back to their relationship, something I thought was being lost in the larger narrative.

"Paisay mien bahut takat hoti hai, Hahsir, har cheez ka mol laga daita hai." Ji bilkul bahut zyada takat. Seeing Mummyji giving advise and not the kind a mother usually gives her children gave me some insight into her past, her life, and her experiences. A woman who paid off her husband to safeguard her son and his future, a woman who sacrificed her own happiness for that of her son could only give him pieces of her own experience: unfulfilled, broken, and painful.

It looks like Hashir is all set for a qurbaani, kyunki sabsay keemti shay aapna aap hota hai. Since when did Mummji become Patel from Bunty I Love You?

As this series unfolds, I see what HUM TV does right. It takes the morose, painful, and mundane and transforms it into something beautiful and (for lack of a better word) poetic. I know, I know, I have given HUM TV a hard time this year what with one dud after another, but I also must acknowledge that my first drama as a reviewer was a HUM TV production, and one that I thoroughly enjoyed, so, I hope Mausam won't disappoint me as it reaches its climax.

As we wait and wonder what happens next I'll leave you with some food for thought: Kitni khushkismet hai Saman aur badkismet mein. Shazia bibi, kuch haad tak kismet apnay haath mein hoti hai.

Aglay haftay tak,

Khuda Haifz aur Rab Rakha

RB (Tweet me!)

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