Bari Apa – 1st Review

There are some serials that wow at first look – they grab your attention right away and hook you from the get go. Then there are the others that take time to grow on you. You are not compelled to drop everything and watch, but nonetheless there is something about them, be it the story, the actors, or the director, that causes you to catch up on them at some point during the week. There is just enough of that something extra that makes it different from the okay-I-watched-it once-and-am-never-gonna-go-back-to-it again run of the mill serial. You kinda keep keep watching them till one day, BOOM, the serial all of a sudden comes alive and the deal is sealed. For me Bari Apa is one such serial, and today it got me. Here’s how it went …

This was one serial I had been eagerly anticipating. To begin with, that it was penned by Samira Fazal made it a must watch in my book. Once the cast was announced, stalwarts like Nauman Ejaz, Savera Nadeem, Sajida Syed, Aisha Khan, Arjumand Raheem, alongside Jibran, Madiha Rizvi, Waqas Khan, Fahad Mirza, and others, and that it was an MD Productions serial, with the cherry on the cake Shahzad Kashmiri as the DOP, it seemed like a done deal – this is what I was gonna watch on Saturdays. But after the first episode I was kinda, ummm how do I say it, not exactly put off, but not really jumping for joy either. Somehow, somewhere, that X-factor seemed to be missing. I thought back to how I had gone back to watching the first episode of Kuch Pyar ka Pagalpan three four times in that first week, similarly for Shehr-e Zaat, I watched that episode thrice that first day before sitting down to write a glowing review. What was off with Bari Apa?

The right ingredients were all there, I fell in love with choti apa right away. Arjumand Raheem brings her character alive with such color and vibrance that its hard not to smile whenever she’s on screen – such a patakha she is. While choti apa was easy to love for her chulbulapan, for me Savera Nadeem’s fantastically played bari apa was much more intriguing. Ostensibly stern, dominating, interfering in everybody’s life, and detested by younger family members, there was something about her, a sense of vulnerability that hinted at a deeper pain.Her relationship with her mother was very interesting. Why did her mother seem so indebted, so afraid of her elder daughter? For how long had bari apa been looking after her mother and siblings? Why was there so much tension between the sisters? The chemistry between bari apa and her behnoi also was a huge question mark. Clearly there were secrets that we were not privy to, that would come later. For the time being, the first few episodes seemed like a bash bari apa party, and that was a big put off for me. Knowing Samira’s writing, I knew we would not be served black n white characters, but the first couple of episodes seemed to be going that way and I was kind of disappointed.

The other character that fascinated is bari apa’s husband, Farman, brilliantly underplayed by Nauman Ejaz. Thank you casting director (Momina Duraid?) for rescuing Nauman from the iron shackles of his wadera avatar. Whenever I see such an obsequious husband, like Mr. Farman, my wife meter goes into red alert mode. Surely this husband is not for real? As far as I can see Mr. Farman is no farmanbardar, nope far from it – methinks he has to be the top contender for the ghunna meesna shohar of the year award. Five episodes in and so far he is still hiding behind his I’m-the-shohar-of-century facade. Can we just get on with it, please! I’m sure Aisha Khan’s fans are waiting impatiently as well!

Bari apa’s relationship with her brother is very sensitively played out. Jibran is very good as the helpless brother. Clearly bari apa looks out for him like her son, shes probably been taking care of him since he was a boy; but the problem is that boy is now a hapless man who is sadly torn between his wife and his bari apa. Bari apa is usually on the mark in what she says, but bechari ka probem yeh hai ke rather than being politically correct and “suggesting,” she commands and expects to be obeyed. Add to that the quite immature bhabhi, an out to create mischief choti nand, and an unempowered saas, and  you have all the indications of a disaster in the making.

Samira’s script is strongly knit, her dialogues are appealingly simple, no long monologues or literary language here – this how we speak in our daily lives.  The humor, a strong feature of the script is not contrived, rather it derives from situations in everyday life, which is a huge selling point. Every character is very clearly defined with its own distinct personalities. Director Saife Hasan has done a commendable job in situating the characters in relation to bari apa, the pivot around whom the story revolves. Shahzad Kashmiri’s signature camerawork adds so much to the graph of storytelling by ensuring that even the most fleeting of expressions are beautifully captured.

So, with all these positives, why was I on the fence till now? I think for me the biggest culprit was the pace of the story, it was really mellow. I understand that the story needs time to come into its own, but for the first four episodes it seemed like there was just a lot of talking, without anything big really happening. The scenes seemed really long. Some of the scenes, between the newcomers particularly, seemed to stretch forever. Granted,  its not fair that on the one hand we bemoan the lack of new faces, and then we see them we still complain, but there has to be some kind of training required before newcomers can be given substantial roles in bigger projects. Sara Khan looks pretty and has the screen presence to go a long way, but at this point she is nowhere near ready. Similarly Fahad Mirza, he’s the best of the three youngsters, but he too needs time. In short, the newcomers are the weakest link in the chain. So far we’ve seen no aww-going moments and there is zero chemistry between the younger couple, which means that my mind wanders while they are on screen – and I’m sure that’s not what the BA team wants since in this age of the plethora of channels and ready remotes, wandering minds lead to eventually wandering viewers.

What changed finally? Well, for starters, in episode 5,  the story picked up steam and ran at  lightning speed. All of a sudden it seemed like all everybody had woken up and there were fireworks onscreen. Where was all this hidden for so long? Why did it take a whole month to generate momentum? Savera Nadeem is great, no questioning that, but today she was fabulous. Her face off with Isa, Fahad Mirza, was brilliant, as was her showdown with Riffat, her bhabhi. Many of the skeletons hidden in the family closet were tantalizingly hinted at in this episode. We were shown the human side of bari apa, contrasted against a  darker side of choti apa, as she adroitly manipulated the bhabhi to stand up to bari apa. Clearly choti apa is more than a bubbly personality. How far will she go in her desire to one up bari apa? When will the easily-led bhabi realize that she is being played? Will Riffat eventually quit whining, take a realistic look at her life and cut out her farmaishi program? Will she realize that her incessant demands are driving her poor husband insane? And will it be too late before bari apa opens her eyes to see that her domineering attitude is nullifying all the good deeds she’s been doing all her life? When and how will Farman show his true colors? Where has the second wife been kept hidden all these  years? Why does she appear now? Formidable as she appears, can bari apa handle this, the biggest challenge of her life?

Tons of questions, looking forward to the answers – yes, count me in for the ride!

Written by SZ~

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27 replies

  1. Unlike you, I was hooked to this serial from day one! It was so crisply written with such well etched out characters that it was a treat to watch. I enjoyed Arjumand R’s (introductory?) scene where she switches off the music when she thinks her hubby’s come home. In turn he doesn’t let on that he saw her dancing, how cute was that? Also like the chemistry between Ghazanfer and Bari apa … they way she listens to him and him alone.
    Another reason I was captivated was that I have some bari apa type characters in the family so it was all the more intriguing.
    Yes, the younger actors could have done better specially the boy who’s just returned from the US (Isa?) but the older lot is sooo good, that it’s a treat to watch!

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    • LOL! Call me a tubelight, but yes, I’m finally there 😉 Yes!! I love those choti apa scenes as well – Arjumand is fab – but somehow other than that I found bits and pieces interesting. The actors are undoubtedly excellent, Savera I absolutely love her as I do Nauman Ejaz. As I said everything was there but that x-factor somehow was missing, but yes, ep 5 brought it all together for me -lets hope it continues this way 🙂

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  2. True @Afia there are quite a few Bari Apa types around though none with a husband as “Meesna” as Farman Bhai . Savera and Arjummand are fabulous though the three teens are extremely painful to watch!

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  3. It’s funny how two people can watch the same scene and yet see it so differently. It’s always good to read a different opinion and learn from another’s perspective..I have to agree that it was Sameera Fazle’s name which attracted me to this drama.but it was a little slow in catching my interest ,unlike KPKPP . Though I can see Bari Appa’s frustration at losing her love and being used as a cash cow by her family for some reason I cannot empathise with her. I like characters which rise above their own pain and circumstances. I get the impression her character is taking subtle revenge on her entire family for how they used her. the way she casually mentioned divorce to her brother after a minor tiff with her bhabi is a definate shade in character,similarily her dsimissive treatment of her younger sister.. Choti apaa and the Bhabi are the ones I empathise with. Sameera’s characters are always complex ,three dimensional beings ,so let’s see how they evolve. Wouldn’t it be nice if bothChoti and Bari Appa would actually communicated their fears and sadness to each other in all honesty, that might be the last episode though,,,,,

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  4. @Sadaf: Agree with you that Bari Apa can be read in so many different ways, with no wrongs or rights. To me that’s the beauty of a well-written script and well-etched out characters that seem real, with dark and light shades to their personalities. Looking forward to seeing how BA shapes up and how the chotti apa and bhabhi’s tracks pan out. LOL! yes, now that would be great wouldn’t it if the two sisters just sat down and talked it out … but then what we watch for the next 12/13 weeks 😉

    @Samira Fazal: Samira, If you’re reading this, could I ask how many total eps?

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  5. I wrote 23, if i remember correctly. Thank you for liking the serial. Yes you are right some serials take time to make their place. Normally first ep should do so, but this one was beginning with an epilogue, asal kahani to ab shru hui hai mere dost 🙂
    To me Bari apa is the reincarnation of Mera saaiin’s Nauman and Savera. In this janam Savera’s character is taking full revenge on Mera saaiin..saain..saaiin lolzzzzz

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    • @Samira Fazal: haha @ the revenge! Come to think of it Savera is still in loss since her husband the meesna Nauman Ejaz has himself a goto wife on the side!
      I feel bad for Bari Aapa.
      Really looking forward for the “asal kahani” to start. 😀

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  6. Glad you are on board for the ride, this will be a fun journey. I was totally engrossed by this drama, esp in the last episode.! Also love the fact the characters all have shades of grey, so it is a treat to watch. I like the new girl, she is cute but maybe needs more training for sure. She has potential, her cousin though idefinitley needs way more improvement. Kara see how the story gora, excited. I like Samurai Fazals script, because thee are so many bari apa type people in families, so very easy to relate to.

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  7. I was in Pakistan when Bari Apaa started, couldn’t get enough time to see but whenever i saw the promos, i used to say to my mother ‘amaa, i want to see this drama yar”. so now when i have came back.. i am definitely going to follow to serial and thank you SZ for writing review and making things clear to understand.. seems really interesting! 🙂

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  8. I did not care for the first episode either and haven’t watched it since. Maybe in a couple of weeks when the story takes off I might take another dekho at it. I cannot relate to the characters since I don’t know any Bari apa types (thankfully!) Choti apa was quite funny though 🙂

    And I think Samira ji should definitely think about using Samurai Fazal as her alter ego lol!

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  9. LOL! SK love your smartphone typos!

    Yes, Samira, I think Samurai Fazal it has to be from now on 🙂

    @Annie I too dont have Bari Apa type ppl around me so perhaps coudn’t relate as well, but I think since the past 2 ep or so, the characters have started fleshing out more and the pace has picked up – hopefully the serial will continue its upward graph…fingers crossed 🙂

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  10. @Samira Fazal, I have a way of going off the topic but I have to tell you how much I love your work. Huge fan of your adaptation of Dastaan….a lot of people didn’t appreciate rabia entering hassan’s life but I enjoyed their track even more than the hassan-bano romance. The scene where hassan enters rabia’s room to call her for dinner is priceless ….the scene where rabia says “Aap ki khudgharzi par meri jaan kurbaan”…and the shadi scene where hassan just says rabia’s name and then nothing- so much said by saying nothing. Thank you for such a gem. God bless you.

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  11. @ Sadaf, love your comments re KPKP sequel. Glad I am not the only one harping about it! Maybe Samira ji is writing one and will spring a surprise one day! I am very, very hopeful:D

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  12. Didn’t watch this drama yet. Promos didn’t make me feel like watching it. But now i am thinking to give it a try.

    Vsy interesting how bari apa’s thread changed into farmaishi program 😀 . So Samira ji plz consider and plan to write a sequel to KPKP. Bht demand hai. Will love to see Mujju, Kiran and Shmraiz once again. 🙂

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  13. This weeks episode was pretty hilarious!

    I am loving the character of Bari Aapa and actually do sympathize with her. Aik toh the entire family is scared of her and “respects” but behind her back she is their main topic and they are all bashing on her. I felt bad for her when she had to overhear all that but very well played by Savera Nadeem when she walks in and announces the engagement she did with that very guy they were all discussing. Great way to shut them all up. Uper se her husband has a secret very happy life of his own going on. Its his fault for being such a coward his whole life, no wonder she treats him like that.

    Really enjoyed the scene where Isa is talking about what a coward Sharmeen’s father is and Farman looks all lost, AK giving him funny looks..lol
    What was funnier was Farman couldn’t put the two together. Really enjoyed the last scene, i was hoping they wouldn’t drag that out.

    Anyways looking forward to the next episode. Zubaida finds out about the second marriage! i think the best thing about this drama is the story moves really fast and does not drag through out the episodes!

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