As the question mark in the title indicates I’m not sure if this counts as a review. In fact I don’t think I’m qualified to write a review because the story eludes me completely. It might be the most interesting one around, but to my mind the whole premise is very confused and confusing.
So why am I writing about Ashk? Good question! I am writing because after having skimmed over the past so many episodes, today I actually sat through the complete shebang. Admittedly better than the ones preceding it, it was a strictly ok in comparison to so much else that’s on air currently. Now I have a whole list of what-the-hecks that I would like to put forward. Perhaps your answers will help make things clearer? Perhaps you can help me make sense of whats going on?
Here are my questions in no particular order…
- Why does every character walk to every place? Is Istanbul that small a city? Forget about owning cars, did they run out of cabs as well? Last week Rohail dragged Zebu from who knows where to where, but still when they entered the apartment, none of them was sweaty or out of breath!
- Why do they have all their conversations outside? Errr… isn’t it freezing cold there? Who in their right minds goes out on balconies, or sits on benches, or walks around in parks to meet and chat? Aren’t there coffee shops, bars and restaurants? Or better yet, here’s a novel idea – why not invite somebody over for coffee and have a conversation like normal people?? Last week when Zebu dragged poor Aunty Kulsoom all over town to meet her bhaiya Chinky in the park, all I kept thinking was ke bechari Aunty ji zaroor beemar par jaayengi! And, voila! Aunty ji had a heart attack today! Rohail beta, don’t beat yourself up – its not your harkats that brought on the heart attack. Its all a direct outcome of the extra walking around your maa’s been doing recently!
- Related to above, why do these people wear outerwear in their homes? Today Rohail and Madiha were again, as is the norm in Istanbul apparently, talking on the balcony. Rohail was dressed to the nth degree in his winter coat and gloves, and Madiha too was fully buttoned up, with a very cute beret to complete her winter bunny look. Is this what people do in Istanbul? Get dressed up in layers then go have a conversation out on the balcony?
- When Zebu hears the news of Aunty ji’s heart attack, she comes running, as usual, to the hospital, and then after her showdown with Rohail goes and starts praying with a tasbeeh. Err… where did that come from? So far we’ve seen nothing to indicate that Zebu is the kind of a girl who would carry one with her?! Also, when did Rohail find time to change out of his knee length coat into a jacket? And Rohail sahab, please share the name of your hair gel – kya kamal ka hai! Never a hair out of place!
- What is Bedi’s problem?? I fail to see any charm in this character. So far I have not seen anything that would indicate why a sophisticated Madiha and a suave Rohail would consider him their best friend. To begin with, he gives rotten advice, and then to top it all off he changes colors faster than an girgit would! Wasn’t he the one who originally uksa-oed Madiha to make a play for Rohail? Then today he turned around completely and said he was Zebu’s brother? Wow! Wonder how many rakhis Zebu bought on her last visit to the desi grocery store?! Every guy in town is now claiming to be her brother!
- Among everything else that baffles me about Ashk, why for the love of God is Zebu not owning up to her initial tamasha with Rohail, her mujhe waqt chahiye, and her touch-me-not act, the whole intiqam bit?! She purports to be close to her phupho, but has not told her this teeny tiny detail? Isn’t she then responsible for turning Rohail away from her? And oh, yes! What was that bit last week about Chinky and I went with his mother when she went grocery shopping?? Moreover, all his friends know about his relationship with Zebu?? After all her stunts, Zebu has the gall to turn around and call Madiha names? I’m sorry Zebu, its not just girls like Madiha who are called bad names in Pakistan, women like you are not referred to with great izzat either! Sorry, but I am so not falling for her I-am-a-victim act.
- On Zebu, could someone please start an online petition to close down the store in Istanbul where she buys her clothes!! Or perhaps, Zebu should cut a deal with Madiha, where the latter could take the former shopping. Mehreen, girl, no matter how whack your character is, you do know how to shop! One thing that cannot be faulted is Mehreen Raheal’s sense of fashion.
- When Mehru called Rohail today, she claimed to have already talked to Zebu, but then in the next scene lo and behold we have Mehru calling Zebu! Now is Mehru turning into a pathological liar, or is the editors’ sense of continuity at play here?
- Mehru and Bilal’s relationship, the Mehru and Dinga, and Dinga and Ajjo, stuff — Please, please tell me how is this related to what’s happening in Turkey? I understand this is yet another two-sisters’ saga (sigh!!) but I have yet to come across a worse knit story. The two tracks are so far apart and so badly connected that the whole thing is leaking worse than a sieve. Its like watching two dramas for the price of one! Generally, my penny-piching desi self would be thrilled with this BOGO (buy one get one) deal, but this one – maaf karden bhai sahab! I’m returning both, thank you!!
You get that I’m annoyed and could go on and on about all that is wrong here, so why am I watching?
Yes, I admit its Fawad Khan who compels me to tune in…but then I get so annoyed that I usually ffwd everything, and end up watching just his scenes, which usually don’t amount to more than three or so minutes per episode. I think I sat through it all today because he was onscreen for more than five minutes. But even Fawad, with all his skill and star power, cannot breathe life into a deader-than-a-doornail serial. His scenes with Neelam, Mehreen and Tipu leave me annoyed. He was great with Resham, because he was paired opposite somebody who could actually act. Their scene in the second episode, where Mehru is feeding the birds, remains a highlight of the serial for me. Apart from that, the only other times I see fireworks on the screen are whenever Fawad is with Simi Raheel. Wow! those two are brilliant together.
Simi Raheal – such a class act! She brings so much vivacity to an otherwise below average character. She makes me feel all of Kulsoom’s anguish, her disappointments and her frustrations. Her chemistry with Fawad is to die for. The warm moments, Rohail’s affection and respect for his mother are so believable. This is what good actors do, make you buy into a completely unbelievable scenario, just because they are so skilled at their craft. Today, the scene in the living room, where they talk about his bachpan, was so good – in that moment I totally forgot my aggravation with Ashk – and that’s saying a lot! Similarly the hospital scene; her silent conversation with her eyes – wah! This is what fabulous acting is all about. I was, am, and will always remain a huge fan!
Irfan Khoosat, another actor par excellence is seen here after a hiatus. Loved all his moments as well. But sadly he seemed so wasted in this serial – all his lines were so outdated, and the long never-ending scenes… uff toba! My one question here, why cast brilliant actors for such mediocre roles? If such stellar names are brought on-board shouldn’t there be some sense of responsibility about not misusing them?
To wrap up, lets just say Ashk has been a learning experience for all of us. As viewers, we’ve all learnt that star power alone cannot make a serial. I hope producers too have learnt that as audiences we are a bit more savvy than we are given credit. Lets hope lessons learnt this time around will prevent more Ashk clones in the future- fingers and toes crossed!
Written by SZ~