It is with great sadness that I write this post today – my favoritest soap ever, Nikhar Gaye Gulab Sare, just concluded.
If you would’ve asked me on May 14th, the day before the first episode aired, whether I watched and enjoyed soaps, forget about following them religiously, my answer would’ve been an unequivocal no. As a rule I detest the very idea of soaps. I stay away from them because I find them too long-winded, boring, and illogical. Even if they begin on an intriguing note, these never-ending, over dramatic sagas generally end up falling flat. Nikhar Gaye Gulab Sare, I’m happy to report, was a fabulous exception to this rule. Unlike others, short, sweet and to the point, this crisply presented soap did not flatter to deceive. Beginning on a high note, this thrilling action packed soap never faltered, be it in its story-telling, direction, acting, or production values. Congratulations to Momina Duraid, Asim Ali, Nadia Akhtar, and the cast and crew of Nikhar Gaye Gulab Sare – two thumbs up!!
The story of Nikhar Gaye Gulab Sare revolved around the intrigues in the Malik family, led by their formidable matriarch, the wadi malkani ji. More dysfunctional than any family I’ve ever come across, these Maliks had more than their fair share of skeletons hidden in the family closet: feuds over khandani jaidad, izzat ka sawal, unacknowledged and unwanted family members, good guys, bad guys, murders, rapes, fights, suicides, kidnapping, and revenge. You name it and they’d been there done that. But, even with so much OTT-ness going on, there was something intrinsically persuasive that kept me hooked.
The reason for this has to be the very dry sense of humor, a filmi-ness, that permeated the whole story, a sense of optimism about the way Nadia Akhtar adapted the story from Shazia Chaudhry’s classic novel. NGGS is entertainment at its best. Even when we saw the blacker than black character of Durab, beautifully played by Shamoon Abbasi, one was hard pressed to take Durab seriously. We watched him murder, rape, kidnap, and who know what else, but it was never depressing. All the dark moments were balanced out by the lighter moments. The twists came at exactly the right time and managed to keep me glued to the edge of my seat throughout. The suspense was perfectly pitched and later clearly resolved so that as a viewer I never felt cheated. NGGS boasted a bewildering number of characters, but once again the writer maintained her grip on the story and every character had a clearly defined place in the narrative. We saw almost all loose ends being tied up at the end. I appreciated the fact that rather than resorting to simplistically showing everybody living happily ever after, the story was left open-ended. We know Saud and Mehreena need a lot more time to resolve their differences, but it was good to see the first step being taken. Similarly, for Sikandar and Shehryal, too we saw an agreement between elders, but were thankfully spared formal declarations of love, which would have looked forced and unnatural.
Seeped in the old-fashioned tradition of story-telling, by the the time this soap wrapped up, good had prevailed over evil, wrong-doers punished and good guys rewarded. For managing to do all this without giving in to the temptation to moralize, preach, or judge, and letting entertainment be what it should be – good, clean fun – writer Nadia Akhtar and director Asim Ali deserve a huge round of applause. For allowing the soap to end when it should have, at a point where we we were left wanting more, producer Momina Duraid needs to be applauded.
Among other positives, the one thing that really stood out was that the look and feel of Nikhar Gaye Gulab Sare was akin to that of a mega-serial. Soaps, as far as I know, tend to have a closed-in feeling and are generally shot indoors, but here the canvas was really broad. The grand setting of the haveli, the exterior and the interiors, went a long towards establishing the generational wealth of the Malik family. The technical facilities were all top notch, and the outdoors beautifully captured, making the narrative transition from the rural to the urban setting very clear and distinct.
In terms of acting, Shamoon Abbasi and Imran Aslam towered over others. Faisal Rehman was his usual charming self. Sabreen Hisbani was delightful to watch as Saima, the abandoned and frustrated wife. She did complete justice to her complex character. Rashid Mahmood was effective, Mawra was great as the idealistic Shehryal, and Sangeeta was apt in her role as the malkani. Asim Ali was hilarious in his cameo, the way he brandished his gun about, and tried to look menacing was very entertaining. Shazia Afgan was good as the scheming mother out to get revenge at any cost. Hassan Niazi was too OTT and filmy for my liking, also he looked too old for the character he was playing. Sana Ismail failed to impress me. Week after week I watched her, hoping to be surprised, but given that she was supposedly the pivot around whom the story revolved, she fell completely flat. Also, the way Zarlala’s character was written left a lot to be desired and I could never really find myself sympathizing with her situation.
Overall, thoroughly enjoyed this switch-off-your-brain-and-enjoy soap. Excellent effort by the entire NGGS team. For those who gave it a pass the first time around, I highly recommend you give this one a shot now. Don’t go in expecting a thought provoking story, ’cause that this certainly is not, but if you are looking for entertainment done right, then this one is for you. As for me, this soap has whetted my appetite, lets see if I can find anything else worthwhile.
RIP NGGS! You were loved and will be missed!
Written by SZ~