Shehr-e Zaat – Episode 4 Review

Oh, what tangled webs we weave, when we first learn to deceive …

Walter Scott was probably not thinking of Falak as he penned these memorable lines, but seldom must’ve they applied as well as they did today, when Falak was deluding herself that Salman, a personification of her subconscious ideal, was the answer to all that she’d never even realized was missing in her life. His arrogance, his inflated sense of self, his careless dismissal of her explicitly expressed interest, her unreturned phone-calls, all were glibly rationalized by Falak as his charm, his charisma, his magnetism. Rushna’s well-intentioned warnings, Hamza’s admittedly jealous questioning of Salman’s casual attitude towards Falak, all easily flicked aside like minor irritants. Clearly infatuated, by the end of the episode, the never-having-looked-beyond-herself Falak had fallen hook, line and sinker for Mr. main to aap se bhi zyada accha hoon Salman Ansar.

Yes, this was another fabulous installment. Shehr-e Zaat continues to enchant, and mesmerize. So spellbound am I by this story of the lovely Falak, the gorgeous Mehrunissa (was there ever a character so aptly named?) and the adorably wise naani, that it is  impossible to think of doing anything else during this one hour. There is so much going on in each episode, visually and intellectually, explicitly and implicitly, that it takes time to sort through the strands of meanings. Each scene has a reason in the narrative; the framing, the lighting, the dialogues, the poignant lyrics of OST, everything has a purpose. Similarly, we humans too have a greater purpose in life, one that goes beyond fulfilling mundane chores. It is incumbent upon us to go beyond the everyday routine and recall what we were created for, to recognize our greater calling in life, and to realize our true potential. This is the intrinsic wisdom thatnaani tries to impart to her socialite daughter and flighty granddaughter.

Caught up as the mother and daughter are in their lives, there is little time to spare for naani, who ends up spending her time with the maid. What I absolutely love here is the way we are shown the relationship between these three women. Exasperated as the mom and daughter are with naani, they adore her; there is tremendous affection and respect here. Even as Mehrunissa speaks irritably about her mother to her husband, she uses a completely different tone with her mother. Similarly, while Falak may roll her eyes while naani admonishes her, she still gives her a huge hug and offers to make tea for her late at night. Same goes for Sher Afghan; we haven’t seen much of him, but the way he comes to bid farewell to naaniand his deferential behavior was such a pleasure to behold. These gestures of affection and respect, small and inconsequential as they may seem now, indicate to me that no matter what rough times the family might go through, there is a tremendous support system here, a lot of love that can withstand a lot of pressure. Don’t worry, your tarbiyat might not show through overtly just yet, but it’s all there… zara nam ho to yeh mitti bari zarkhaiz hai naani

Disturbed by the emptiness and silence enveloping her daughter’s household naani returned home. Mehrunissa continued with her socializing ways, dismissing the disquieting moments when naani asked probing questions. Oblivious to these undercurrents, Falak is too caught up in selecting the right outfit to impress Salman. Her he-likes-me-he-likes-me-not agonizing compels Hamza to propose. While her rejection was no surprise to us viewers it clearly caught Hamza off guard. Hamza’s dejected expressions were very telling, but Falak, besotted with Salman, appeared completely blind to his breaking heart.

Usually in a serial, in every episode there are a couple of actors who stand out. Unlike others, however, Shehr-e Zaat is a complete package in that every crew member and actor, be it Mansha, or Mahira, or Mohib, or Hina, or Samina, or the actor playing Sher Afghan (sorry, don’t know your name!), or Meekal, all contribute equally. Shehr-e Zaat is clearly not Mahira’s serial with others standing in as fillers. This is an ensemble cast in the truest sense of the word.  The stars if one has to point to any have to be the story and the story tellers – Umera and Sarmad. Shehr-e Zaat is their story and they are telling it beautifully. Hats off guys!!

Written by SZ~

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