Shehr-e Zaat – Episode 18 Review

There are serials, then there are more serials and then there are even more serials, but very rarely do our TV dramas have the kind of impact that Shehr-e Zaat does – making us reflect on our words and deeds, persuading us to go inwards and search deep within, and compelling us to introspect, go beyond the Me/Myself/I and ask: Who am I? Where have I come from and where am I headed? Does my life have a greater purpose – beyond the routine fulfillment of familial obligations and keeping pace with inanities of societal expectations?

With each new episode of Shehr-e Zaat, we, along with Falak, Mehrunnisa and naani, take one more step away from the majazi pleasures and pains of the material world, and come that much closer to the alternate realm of the haqiqi, that which lies beyond the minutiae of worldly joys and sorrows.

Traversing this metaphorical path is not an easy task. In the last few weeks we’ve seen Falak weakening, faltering, questioning and getting frustrated with the seemingly never-ending journey. Mehrunnisa, who initially appeared to be completely lost, is slowly but gradually finding her way back on track. Falak keeps holding up the mirror to her mother, serving as her guide and conscience here. The scene where they talk about Nadira’s daughter’s wedding was a beautiful illustration of the difference between empty chatter and actually empathizing with somebody’s plight. Naani is another one who has never hesitated in pointing out the error of their ways to both her daughter and granddaughter; but again as they say there is a time and place for everything. It is only after her experience with Salman that Falak actually begins to hear what naani had been saying all along, before that her naseehats were as meaningful for Falak as elevator music is for most of us. Now, everything naani says hold so much significance for Falak. She thinks and reflects on each and every word.

Similarly Mehrunnisa too, who earlier paid scant attention to her mother’s well-meaning advice, is now struck by the depth of her mother’s wisdom. The opening scene, where naani chides her daughter for worrying about what her socialite friends say about Falak, was superbly executed. After all, shouldn’t Mehrunnisa be more concerned about how she will answer to the questions put to her by God?

I love how the story is being told, somber moments offset by the lighter, more colorful moments. The very serious scene between naani and her daughter was followed by the equally thought provoking, but humorously done scene between Salman and Tabinda. Again a moment of reflection for all of us; Tabinda may be coarse and vulgar, but there are many things she says which are not so far off the mark. Her point about parents’ expectations from their children was very well-made. How often do we see parents mistreating their elders and then turning around expecting their children to show them respect and courtesy. Along similar lines, her comment about formal education and college degrees was worth thinking about it as well – if these were any measure of aqal, then Falak would have been attuned to Salman’s capriciousness from day one, and Salman too would be more aware of Tabinda’s shortcomings and less rude to his parents.

One big change from the original novella that I absolutely loved was that Falak signed the divorce papers. Yes, talaaq is not a pasandeeda amal, but in cases like these an absolute necessity. I am so glad that for a change we are shown parents who are not advising their daughter to compromise and are not concerned about duniyawale and their opinions. Similarly, really appreciated the very civil manner in which Mehrunnisa met and cleared the air with Salman’s mother, Nuzhat. Thank you Umera and Sarmad for sparing us the OTT-ness we are subjected to on a regular basis in dramas these days.

manum-maa nayaz-mandi ke be to nayyaazdaara
I am the needy person who needs you
gham-e-choon to naaz-nini behzaar naaz-dara
I will take for granted very dearly the sorrow of a beloved like you
tuu-e- afataab, chashman wa jamaal tust roshan
You are the sun; my eye is alight with your beauty
agar ast-o-baazgeeram be ke chashm e aaz-daaram
If I give you up, to who shall I go?[1]

My absolute favorite scene, which I’d been waiting for since the promos, was the one on the beach. Falak’s come so far and changed so much, why is it then that the only thing she now desires is still eluding her? How frustrating it must feel to come this far and still be without a glimpse of the Beloved? Has Falak’s journey been in vain? All questions she is asking herself, as she is about to reach the end of her tether. Just as she is tiring of walking alone on a path without any signposts, out of the blues is a sign of benevolence. This is the jamal-e-yaar that poets write reams about; here is an indication that though it might’ve seemed that way, Falak was never alone – her Yaar is indeed ja ba ja. A brilliant scene in terms of the screenplay, acting, camerawork, the direction, loved the analogy of the shepherd leading his flock (also a little funny because of it being Bakra Eid n all), and the judicious selection of the Persian couplet to complete the package. Loved it!!

For me, this was yet another mind-blowing episode. I along with others had questioned the notion of filler episodes, but after having watched the last episode and this one – I have to say these were by no means filler episodes. These were absolutely essential to the overall narrative. Each and every scene is laden with meaning and nuance. The way Umera has knit the story, each new scene is integral to the story as a whole, and so well-connected to the previous ones that it would be criminal to cut them out just to wrap the story. The pace has been just right for me – a story of this complexity cannot and should not be rushed. I like that we see the vulnerability in each character. All  have weak moments that are offset by their stronger ones. I am particularly appreciating how each loose end is being gradually tied up. The story of the dog barking at Falak, which began in the first episode, culminated today having made a larger point about humans being worse than animals when it comes to recognizing true love.

Acting wise, yet again brilliant stuff from Mahira, Hina, Samina, and Nadia – these four ladies just keep upping the bar with every episode. Mikaal was effective as the uxorious husband, who is loco and blinded in his love for his wife. Shazia Afgan left her mark in her one scene. I love the little touches that add so much to the narrative: Falak carrying her naani’s handbag throughout the wedding; naani’s little flower buds in her baalis; and the endearing moment when Falak comes and sits on her naani’s lap — awww! On the technical side, Khizar Idrees continues to impress with his skills behind the camera. My one peeve today was with the loud background music. To begin with, I fail to understand why do we need music in every frame, and then if we just have to it have it, why does it have to be so loud? Today there were parts where I could barely make out what Mehrunnisa and Falak were saying!

To wrap it up, I can only say: Shehr-e Zaat, How do I love thee? Let me count the ways… Umera, Sarmad and team SeZ you guys rock!

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49 replies

    • Eid Mubarak SZ!! Hope you had a great time with near and dear ones. We finally got a chance today to relax after a very busy 2 days.

  1. Superb n Classy review SZ. Your reviews for SeZ should be placed in the classics category of reviews :)
    Although slow paced but SeZ has the quality once u set in to watch SeZ u are unable to switch or move from it. Every scene n moment has such an elegant touch that it goes straight to the heart. <3. Loved loved the SeZ's Camera work.

    I am happy that Falak take a step to end her relationship with Salman. She has tried as much she can to save her relationship as Salman has become totally blind ''woh tu bs wohi dekh raha hai jo Allah usy dekha rha hai''. I am waiting to see what will Salman do when Allah turned his heart from tabinda.

    The last scene was just WaoOo. It gave me goosebumps when the stranger lady vanished away after talking to falak.

    The way Falak was shown comparing her shadi's preparations to that of nasra's daughter was excellent. And and there is no need to mention which hum tv's most famous lahnga nasra's beti was wearing :D I think this dastaan's outfit is in tough competition with that ptv's sherwani ;)

    • LOL hoorean!! I didn’t even notice the lehenga – bari zarbast nazar hai aapki! Good catch! Waqai! us PTV sherwani se bhi bura haal hua hai in kapron ka!
      Yes, lots to see and think about in this episode as well…
      Thank you for your very kind words – Im glad you are enjoying my reviews :)
      How was eid?

      • @All: Response to Afia’s query – Dastaan ep 2/Suraiya khala’s shaadi ka jora – and fab Hasan/Bano and Suraiya Khala/Saleem scenes thrown in as a freebie for all of us ;)

  2. Thanks alot SZ for translating the couplet for us. I have heard it many times and knowing the meaning kind of frustrated me. Also i thank you for the great review. I dont know how u write so well bcos these r all those things which came into mind after watching this beautiful episode but i could never put them in words so logically. Nice work :-)
    The beach scene was just so so so soooooo brautiful and mahira’s acting, once again, was outstanding. The way she looked up in the sky said it all….she finally found the ‘zaat’. It gave me so much peace that she has reached somewhere in her journey.
    Also i wud like to point out tabinda’s dialogue where she said “main qayamat hun, sab kuch khatam ker ke jati hun”. This kind of gave me the idea about her future intentions. I havent read the novel so i m very curious about the last episode. So pllllsss i request everyone here dont write anything about the end…..plllllsss dont spoil it for me.

    Looking forward to the next episode anxiously….i Looooovvvveee Shehr e Zaat!!!!! :-)

    • Thanks Mavra! I too wanted to find an accurate transation so that I could enjoy this couplet in its entirety – glad you enjoyed it!
      Yes, Tabinda ke iradey kaafi khatarnaak lagte hain – Allah khair karey!
      Re: the ending – dont worry about spoilers – they’ve changed so much from he novel thats it now hard to predict how it will end!!
      And hey! good to hear from you again! dont be ghaib! ;)

  3. Eid Mubarak Everyone! God Bless:)
    @SZ I always read your beautiful reviews after watching the episodes but today, it was the first time I read it without watching the episode( you know how the eleventh hour shopping is in Pakistan, Chaand Raats and all:p) but I am truly mesmerised by how your review gave me the perfect insight of the episode. Believe me , As I went through your words, I felt the same thrill and excitement creeping up my neck when I watch SeZ! Wow!thank you!

    Anyway, after reading this review I will surely catch up on the episode as it sounds really very exciting!

    • Eid Mubarak Heela! Hope you a had great day and enjoyed all kinds of mazedaar meat dishes :) Thank you for liking the review! Ab episode dekh kar batana whether the review was accurate or not? ;)

  4. It certainly was an excellent episode not a filler in any way as i was afraid it might be and what a stellar review to back it up .I loved the dialogues between Tabinda and Salman ,Tabinda is definitely street smart and lot of her sayings were true if only she was not hand feeding Salman i would have almost believed in that relation .Nadia Afghan has done a superb job . I was really happy when Falak signed the divorce papers because it was the time to take a stand for herself and she has given her relation enough chances.Though i can sympathies with her still thinking of Salman sometime ’cause if she will just totally forget him it will seem too unnatural and the important part is she is moving in the right direction .A person one has loved really deeply cannot be forgotten overnight especially if you have been rejected .So i am glad they are keeping it as realistic as possible .
    The relative wedding was another thought provoking scene as on weddings the rich class really go overboard in spending and Falak comparisons of her wedding to he relative wedding could show the wide difference in our social standards.
    Falak thinking she and Tabinda are the same in the grand scheme as she also try to throw tezab on her face and has done quiet reprimanding stuff again a clear indication it all depends on the path we choose for ourselves.
    The beech scene was really well shot Mahira acting was fabulous it had the right amount if mystery to it and certainly her safar of zaat has come to some destination.What a philosophical play has off to Umera Ahmed ad Sarmad for putting it out there and you for being as much a part of the journey.

  5. Thanks Javeria! LOL@ Tabinda not hand feeding Salman – what a fabulous scene that was!The first time I watched it I was too busy laughing and enjoying Nadia aka Tabinda to pay attention to the dialogues and then went back again to focus on the lines :)
    Glad that you too are enjoying the mellow unfolding of the last couple of chapters – After watching the last two eps, I think I would’ve felt very cheated if portion had been chopped off … lets see what everybody else thinks … :)

  6. Such an awesome review SZ!!! :) Thank you for putting the translation up of the poetry at the beach. Makes so much sense when you understand the stuff being said.

    Like you and many others, I was agonizing over the fact that it was a filler episode and I would be completely bored and forward through it. But needless to say I was completely glued for the most part :) LOVED the scene where Falak came and sat down in Naani’s “gaudi” too too sweet. It does look like they added the Nadia Afgan portion to extend the episode but they weren’t bad scenes. I liked what Tabinda said about “qiyamat aik hi baar aati hai” You shouldn’t wish for qiyamat over and over again. And what she said to her MIL even though she was very rude but “sau aanay durst baat” about parents not taking care of their parents. Brilliant thought provoking stuff! And just when I was relishing in these dialogues and thinking to myself that I should become a better person by implementing some of these things in my life, the Beach Scene BLEW ME AWAY! I hadn’t seen it in the promos so it took me by surprise esp. when the lady poof vanished in thin air!! It reminded me of the time when of my uncle was getting into his car and his child was standing/sitting behind the car where he couldn’t see him and a man walked by and said “aap ka bacha peechay hai” and my uncle turned around and sure enough he was there and he then turned around to thank the man and he was gone. Nowhere to be seen – vanished like that lady. Again brilliantly written, acted, directed. WOW

    Even though I am completely loving these filler episodes, they do need to wrap things up. The relative’s shaadi scene was another filler because we have already had the conversation on Israaf – no need to repeat it. People who want to get the message will get it the first time around – there is no power of 3 here (lol) In fact a lot of people still haven’t figured out that there is no big “action sequence” in this drama. It is more of a journey. It’s pretty funny to read comments like “iss drama mein kuch ho nahi raha. People just keep on talking” – it’s actually kind of sad how our media has made these people always look for action packed entertainment. The message is unfortunately lost on them and they probably are the ones who need the most. May Allah guide us all. (Ameen)

    • Great story Annie! thanks for sharing! It is stories like these that really get us thinking and make our belief in God stronger. I guess we should always always have faith.

    • Aameen:)
      Your uncle’s story literally moved me.. i haven’t witnessed such thing and getting it know that it really happens is amazing feeling.. how ALLAH helps us..’soch he humari” :)

  7. Eid Mubarak to all! I hope you got a chance to wear your Saniya Maskatiya and Silk by FK SZ.

    Thank you for the review and translation. I am in total agreement with you about this episode. It was as if I was reading my thoughts but of course, I could never express myself the way you do. If anything, I think that these last two episodes have added a certain depth to the whole show. My favourite scene has to be the beach scene, just wow! Falak’s prayers are finally answered. Oh, and I am so happy about the divorce papers. Thank God, Falak came to her senses about that. I had a feeling she would have once she saw Salman and Tabinda together and then the news about their baby but there is a time for everything. I believe Falak had too many things to sort out, to face, before she could make this decision regarding the khulla. I cannot wait to see how this serial ends. Of course, I have already thought of an ending in my mind but then I could be wrong….

  8. How would Nani respond to Falak’s stance on Salman- that he’s seeing/doing what God wants him to see/do? By this logic, how can Nani then blame Falak or Mehrunisa for being what they were- One could argue God was making them be that way.

    • To me it is freedom of choice as Robert Frost had said “I took the one less traveled” I think it was Sadaf’s review that said salman could have chosen to work on their relationship but he took the road most traveled instead.

      • @Annie: Agree with you about freedom of choice. By the way, I love this poem, “The Road Not Taken,” one of my all time favourites. Many times, the more correct path or the “straight” one is the more difficult one, hence the diversion. And so true about stories like the one you mentioned, they make our faiths stronger.

    • I guess thats the case with everything. When something goes wrong we are so fast to jump and say oh okay thats how God wanted it to, so it happened. We will never go back and see what actually went wrong, or we will say it was not meant to be.
      Naani can say that about Falak and Mehrunissa because she knows them and can easily point out what went wrong but with Salman she does not really know him, so to avoid bad mouthing him without knowing the facts she says that is how God wants it. God puts those thoughts into us or sometimes other things overtake our thought process and the result is not always the best one.

  9. Belated Eid Mubarak guys! :)
    When Humsafar ended i was pretty sure that it was my most favorite drama for obvious reasons! But i am totally in love with Shehrezaat and I think because it is such a thought provoking serial and really well done it might become my fave.
    This weeks episode was a great addition to the previous ones. I cannot think of one scene that should have been cut to shorten the episode. I was thinking about the shaadi scene but like SZ says in the review, each serious scene is followed by a much lighter scene so it went well overall.

    I love how they show Mehrunissa always so worried about her daughters happiness and future. With all the riches in the world, the one thing she cannot buy is her happiness and a content life and her biggest worry is just that. That’s when she resorts to Naani for guidance and what better person then her, who has all her duas and words of wisdoms to offer.
    I am sure many of us can easily relate to Mehrunissa in terms of her being worried about her daughters as our moms’ are no less when it comes to that. So by relate i mean relate to her being like our mothers. not us being her! lol

    But its great to see Falak telling her mother not to worry about a single thing because she is now content and will not be making the same mistakes. She is now on a different journey and wants her mother to also understand that she will be fine. Unfortunately her mother is not coming to terms and you know what, this is true. No matter how many times a child tries to explain to their mother that things will be fine and not to worry on their behalf, its like speaking Chinese to your mom, everything goes right over their head.
    I love how every scene in this drama is so so realistic.

    Nadia Afgan is brilliant! I am so glad they didn’t cut any of her scenes. The drama would be really incomplete without them. Everything she says is so true even though she uses a sarcastic tone while speaking but wow, really makes you wonder about the whole children parents relationship! Salman is madly in love with her that he does not think twice before disrespecting his mother, so i wonder what brings the change,
    And kise ne sach hi kaha hai, qayamat aik baar hi aati hai, doh baar aaye toh woh qayamat to nah hui na.

    Naani is so right about no matter how much you hate someone you still have no right to hurt them and take your own revenge. No right to let them take over your thought process. This is why we have God. We leave it all on Him and He is the one that takes care of us and the person eventually gets what they deserve. More so often we dont have that much patience and we let people’s hatred take over our minds, I guess thats a sign of a weak imaan.

    Mehrnissa still seems to be so far from it all. The dinner table scene between Falak and her mother proves that. This woman has been hating on Nadra since day one, ab to uska peecha chor do! :P
    Anyways like Falak says the sole reason for that is because “aap har cheez bohut dhoor se dekhtee hain, isiliye aap ko hakikat nahi nazar aati.” How often do even we try to run from haqiqat. because it is indeed very terrifying.

    Everyone has so much about the last scene that i have nothing else to add expect that it was a magical scene! The lines that Shazia Afgan says well the part about “wajood ka kaam hai biqaari bana”, I think were reiterated because we all know when the the fakeer at the beach said they went right over Falak’s head, but now that has a better understanding it all makes so much sense. In that last scene one can finally see peace and content on Falak’s face, almost as if she has finally found God. Her search is now coming to an end. Beauftfully done!!

    SZ, your reviews are just so perfect. Its as they are part of the episodes and this drama , each episode is incomplete if your review for each are not associated with them! Thank you for giving us this every week! You do such a magnificent job that most of the time i feel like i have nothing to add, every detail, scene, and dialogue is explained in such a way that without the review I’d be lost in trying to understand the episode.
    Your efforts are much appreciated! :)

    • What a detailed, well thought-out comment Ash. Almost like a mini-review. And I second your appreciaion for SZ. Remarkable work she does!

    • LOL Ash @speaking Chinese – so true! Even my husband was laughing so hard the other day when my mother called to give me specific instructions on how I should dress my bachas in warm clothes since it is cold outside. I couldn’t get a word in at all lol

    • loveeed your review..agree with you totally.. and lol on ‘ This woman has been hating on Nadra since day one, ab to uska peecha chor do! ‘ :D

  10. Hi All: Great to see all the very thoughtful comments – loved, loved reading all the insights – thank you for taking the time out to write and comment during this busy weekend! Hope everybody had a plentiful meaty Eid – i guess it back to diets for many of us – sigh :(

    @Annie – thank you so much for sharing such a lovely story – I’ve read/heard of similar experiences,but reading your story after watching that last scene for the umpteenth time, I had goosebumps all over. Truly a story that renews faith all over again!

    @zka: nahin yaar! I spent my weekend holed up working like crazy to meet a deadline – and when I did come up for a breather, I wasn’t up to dressing n all – IA thanksgiving or some such :/

    Btw, Where does everyone think Falak will end up in two weeks? Whats gonna happen to Salman? Is Tabinda going to ditch him., given that she is now expecting?Since the story has been changed so much from the original I dont think we will be giving away any spoilers as such … Just a speculation based on our interpretation of the story and where we see it going … so far Sarmad and Umera have done an excellent job in maintaining the graph of the story, but will their ending be able to satisfy us? We still have two more episodes to go – meanwhile would love to hear what everybody thinks! :)

    • I really have no idea how they are going to end SeZ. I think that’s part of what keeps me glued :) I can only make a guess that Falak will end up helping those in need by opening some sort of a school/teaching center. But that would be a very typical/predictable ending for me.

  11. So I became a Falak for an instant, as the rains and winds pounded my window, I was annoyed and wanted to complain that I cant go anywhere, then I see some cities under water, and think things could be much worse. I thought I need to do astaghfar like Naani says , how ungrateful of me, I am thankful to Allah I am not being evacuated or stranded. Back to the episode, Mahira Khan just blows me away every week and so do your reviews SZ!! You guys have pretty much summed the episode up, it was mellow but not boring or dragging. There were some amazing scenes. Loved the comparison of weddings, I hear that’s how the wedding plannings of the elite are these days. Beach scene was obviously amazing, she was just too good. Tabinda is just hilarious, how does she do it…so crass, yet cracks me up and says the most truthful things. I just have one question, if UA said it was written for 16 episodes, how has it been made into 20 episodes. I’m just wondering what they do to extend it because all these scenes seemed to be important, and until October everone was saying it was ending in 17 episodes, by the 19th. So how do they change it in the end, just wondering do they quickly shoot more scenes or what??
    Anyways I am also wondering what are they gonna do with Falak, what will these two episodes show , as her journey seems to be complete, AH…this really has shown us the mirror. I am really amazed by the hard hitting dialogues throughout, and how so true to life they are.

    • Be happy you haven’t lost your electricity. It’s not fun. Ok well it kinda is but I miss my tv and Internet. Ahhh.

      • Oh seriously? Where you at? Do you have floods too?? I was kinda worried about that too, but hasn’t happened yet!!

        • I am close to New York! And no floods by my area but the neighboring cities are pretty bad. It’s just super windy and rains on and off.
          But no electricity. Been almost an hour.

          Where are you at?

  12. Everyone have said it all and beautifully that i am left with nothing to say as such.. but still want to give my two cents :)

    SZ, first thing first: thank you so much for translation of those couplet.. a much needed for all of us and again i being the usual one.. awesome review *applause* :D

    People who are saying that past 2 episodes were just fillers, i am sure if drama ended up with 16 episodes, those would have been first ones to point about rushed ending..to me it was again a no-filler episode..all things were important to show, falak’s smooth and gradually going journey, salman’s blindness to tabinda’s love was always narrative.. but now we can witnessed that too. Taabinda’s hard hitters are really thought provoking.. indeed you learn with your experience more comparatively to what we go through in universities or colleges.. I for some reasons really really like taabinda’s scenes.. specially what she says to Nudrat.
    Nadia Afgan, you always prove yourself!!

    Nani-Falak talking about dog not barking any more was beautiful scene..and ending of such scene was cutest :)

    I so agree with Ash.. on mother’s getting worried for us on tiniest things.. but really they cant help it:)

    Ending scene… made me speechless, the whole environment was just so perfect and background score added so much calmness to the scene..It was amazing to see how Falak’s expressions were changed from disturbed in starting to contentment in end. Dialogues were classic..spell bounded.. Shazia Afgan was mind blowing in her accent and dialogue delivery..
    Terrific way of ending the episode

    I was and still looking for SeZ!

  13. Stay Safe, all you who’re in the path of Sandy. No electricity- we’re used to that!
    Coming to SeZ, I think they might do a 2-3 yr time jump and show Salman getting tired of Tabinda, she having put the name in her house, kicks Salman out, He comes to Falak to apologize but that’s about it. Hamza might be shown for a scene or two (possibly after a failed marriage?) but the end would be left open ended in the way that Falak doesn’t remarry anyone in a hurry.