For weeks I’ve been reading much about this MD Productions serial; positive reviews and comments lavishing praise on the story, the actors, their excellent acting and chemistry with each other, the direction, the dialogues, in short everything about Mere Dard Ko Jo Zuban Milay sounded just perfect. Intrigued by all that I was reading I felt kind of left out; it seemed like I was missing out on what sounded like a really fabulous serial (I watched the first episode and then never got around to following it regularly), and so over the past week or so I caught up with much of what has aired till now, and here’s my take …
Mere Dard Ko Jo Zuban Milay starts off on very happy note with Ahmed Ali’s family. A contented, middle-class shop owner, Ahmed Ali lives in Hyderabad with his wife Shamim, two happy-go-lucky chirpy daughters, Arifa and Amina, and his nephew Junaid. One day he happens to run into an old childhood friend Abdur Rehman, now a rich businessman, who is married to Zakia, has one son Urooj, and lives in Karachi. They catch up, old friendships are renewed, families are introduced, and new ties forged. What ensues thereon is what this serial is all about.
Throughout, as I was watching, I could not but help going wah wah over the directing, Adnan Ahmed in great form here, and the acting. Behroze Sabzwari is fabulous in a role very different from his usual fare. Bushra Ansari, well, I don’t need to say anything about her – she is impeccable as usual; there is not even a single glimpse of the stern Bilqees Kaur or the flamboyant Saima Chaudhry in the way she plays Zakia. Mohib Mirza is a seasoned actor, and he adds so much to his portrayal of the very mature and sensible Junaid; my only request, Mohib bhai sahab, please get your makeup issues fixed asap. You’re fabulous, but the foundation and eyeliner is a huge distraction. Lubna Khalid, Khalid Anam, Sami Khan, and Asma Abbas, are all effective in their roles. Hamza Ali Abbasi looks appropriately menacing.
Great as all these actors are, it is really Sarwat Gilani, Alishba Yousuf and Shehryar Munawar, who are the real show stealers here. They are fabulous! They bring the screen alive with their infectious smiles and undeniable charm. The bubbly Amina has excellent chemistry with the very sweet Urooj. The bonding between the two sisters, Amina and Arifa, is so palpable that it feels real. Sarwat and Alishba look great with their very different look; the colorful outfits, chottis, kajal and chooris all add to their chulbuli characterization in the earlier episodes. The later change in the color palette and styling is a nicely done, a very subtle indication of the maturing of their characters – excellent job by the creative minds behind Sarwat and Alishba’s look.
Shehryar Munawar makes a very impressive debut as the deaf and mute Urooj. Without saying a single word, he manages to convey so much with his expressions that we cannot help but fall in love with Urooj. Indeed, Shehryar is a welcome addition to the dwindling number of young male heroes in our TV industry. I don’t know about others, but I for one am getting very put-off with seeing so many uncle type actors continuing to play eligible “young” bachelors. My only request to Shehryar, please be very selective in your role selection, and don’t end up in so many serials that we get tired of seeing you romancing a different girl everyday.
Despite all these plus points, and huge ones at that, after the first few episodes the serial lost its charm for me – the script being the biggest culprit here. There has to be a limit to how many tragedies audiences are expected to swallow. Here are just a few of the unfortunate incidents we’ve seen so far: dacoity, death, rape, abortion, blackmailing, murder, spousal abuse, accidents, paralysis… who knows what else lies in store for us. I know, these things are all around us, but to show them all happening to just these two families is a bit much. If the writer’s intention is to highlight prevalent social evils, why not focus on a few issues and show a proper resolution, rather than raising them and a few episodes later glibly dismissing them. The buildup to Arifa’s rape and the way its aftermath has been handled has been off-putting. Similarly, the progression of the Kamran/Razia/Neelam track was troubling and the pat resolution beyond belief. Is it possible for a wife to dismiss years of spousal abuse and harsh words, forget that her husband orchestrated a murder, and carry on pretending none of it happened? How is Razia able to forgive Kamran for his role in Neelam’s untimely death? Simply forgive and forget? Is this the message that the writer wants to put out? I’m sorry, but I find all this unpalatable. She is undoubtedly one of our finest actresses, but after this serial and her disastrous Aadha Din Poori Raat, Bushra Ansari should perhaps take a step back and re-evaluate her drama writing skills.
On the issue of Urooj’s disability, initially I was thrilled to see such innovation in thinking about a lead character, but as the story has progressed, I am beyond disappointed. Such a fabulous opportunity to educate our audiences, about people with disabilities, squandered. First of, I don’t understand why he can’t read lips? I know quite a few people like Urooj and they all read lips very effectively. Here, Urooj usually just smiles vacuously most of the time. He contributes nothing to any family discussion and nobody bothers to seek his opinion on anything. He paints, but that seems more a hobby than a career. His own mother treats him like a beloved pet, rather than a grown man. If a young and inexperienced Amina can look at a file and within seconds find something fishy in the documents, and if a housewife like Zakia can learn to deal with business affairs almost overnight, why can’t Urooj do the same? He is physically disabled, yes, but he’s definitely not mentally challenged. I realize, life is more of a challenge for people like Urooj, but they definitely don’t need to be set aside as if they have nothing to contribute to society.
Aside from the peeves with the story, even though Ahmed Ali lives in Hyderabad, we get absolutely no flavor of the culture of the city. Apart from the innumerable references to Bombay Bakery, there is no visual evidence to indicate where they live. We haven’t seen even one Sindhi speaking character so far. Little touches here and there, perhaps a few shots of the city sprinkled throughout, would’ve added so much to the overall ambiance. This would’ve also gone a long way in underscoring the stark difference in Arifa’s life after her move from Hyderabad and explained her discomfort in a big city like Karachi.
Finally, the fact that the rich Zakia occasionally borrows clothes from Aunty Fareeda’s wardrobe and sleeps in Falak’s bedroom is so not funny. And how many of you thought it strange that both Zakia and Shamim could immediately diagnose pregnancies, and with so much confidence – all gynecologists might as well just retire!
For me, Mere Dard Ko Jo Zuban Milay is a mixed bag. I am not going gaga over it, but I don’t hate it either. While the story leaves a lot to be desired, the acting and directing leave me desiring more. I find myself moved by emotions portrayed by the actors, rather than being moved by the emotional moments themselves. Overall, below average fare, maybe because I was expecting a lot more from the talented trio of Momina Duraid, Bushra Ansari, and Adnan Ahmed…
Written by SZ~