Yes!! Haissam Hussain is back – and how!! Durre Shehwar is a winner!! I totally, absolutely, unquestionably, loved the first episode, right from the stunning opening scene. Imbued as it was with a sense of utter calm and peace, that brilliantly shot sequence - the close up of hands with the prayer beads, to Durre Shehwar praying, to where she wakes up her husband - transported me to a whole other world, to a different time and place. I was hooked right there and then…
As first episodes go, this was a highly effective one. We were introduced to an elderly Durre Shehwar and her devoted husband Mansoor. Though empty nesters, their children Shandana and Mateen live away from home, they enjoy a full life with close friends and their hobbies, Durre Shehwar paints and Mansoor keeps busy with like-minded retired friends. Sharply contrasted with the serenity of Durre Shehwar’s household is the frenetic pace of Shandana’s household. Right from the get-go it is clear that Shandana is a highly strung woman. In trying to maintain a balance between running a household, raising a child, fulfilling the demands of a career, and keeping a husband happy, she seems to have lost her soul somewhere along the line, causing her to be irritable and short with everyone around her. Haider, her husband, and Sophee, her daughter, are both understandably angry with her, causing her to become even more defensive, and therefore pricklier. Even as these two tracks are contrasted, flashbacks suggest that Durre Shehwar’s life was not always so rosy; she has had to learn to adjust and perhaps make sacrifices along the way. With Shandana coming back to her parents’ home, it remains to be seen as to how lessons from Durre Shehwar’s past can teach Shandana how to fix her present. Looking forward to seeing the story unfold, I’m intrigued.
What remained with me even after I finished watching the episode, twice – a rarity for a first episode, was the fact that all cinematic elements came together beautifully, so much so that at times it seemed like I was watching a lovely painting come to life. The direction, the cinematography, the lighting, the editing, the wardrobe, make up – all help create an ambiance that I think will become a hallmark of Durre Shehwar. I would be extremely remiss here if I did not comment on the actors. Samina Pirzada and Qavi were superb as the elderly couple. Samina’s quiet smile, her slow unhurried movements, her understated grace, were complemented by Qavi’s portrayal of Mansoor, a now charming man who once must have been difficult to live with. I loved the little nuances he added – the way he sat with his back rigid, indicating that he had spent a good part of his life in the army. Nauman Ejaz was good as Haider, and it was great to see him playing something other than a wadera. And yes! Nadia Jamil! Welcome back! My highest praise, though, must go to Sophia – I just loved her! A natural, she was absolutely adorable as the petulant child growing up in a household where adults fight all the time.
While I unabashedly loved everything else, the background music, though beautiful and apt, struck a discordant note with me. Couldn't MD Productions/Six Sigma have hired somebody to compose an appropriate original background score. In these times, where our plays are reaching a global audience, playing an unacknowledged version of an iconic A.R. Rehman tune, from Zubeida, is just not befitting of these big production houses. Rehman should have received credit in the end-titles. Surely we want our Pakistani dramas to be remembered for more than plagiarism and copyright infringements.