Before there was the disaster named Ashk, there was the mega hit Humsafar, and before that game-changer there was the two very different serials: the exquisitely beautiful Kalmoohi, and the compelling Aao Kahani Buntay Hain. This is about the time I started following Sarmad Khoosat’s work seriously and became a fan. Along with a handful of others, Mehreen Jabbar’s Kahaniyaan being one of them, these are two of my favorite go-to serials. I watch them whenever I get really angry and frustrated with all the nonsense being dished out daily in the name of entertainment.
Today was one of those days … After torturing myself with the final episode of Ashk, I just had to watch something else in order to console myself … something that could help restore my faith in Sarmad the storyteller … something to remind me why I had become a fan in the first place… And, so what better to watch than the very honestly told stories of Aao Kahani Buntay Hain.
Aao Kahani Buntay Hain is a tele-series, comprising of thirteen beautiful stories that are narrated, or rather “knitted”, by a writer, Nauman Ejaz. His wife, Sania Saeed, helps in the creative process, thinking through the various characters’ mindsets, at times offering her own unique perspective on their development and the overall story. Each of the episodes revolves around one such story created by this talented couple. What is interesting here is that even though these characters are created, and they live through scripted situations, they still maintain some agency. Hence the ending is at times unexpected, the writers as surprised and moved by the outcome as the viewers.
Ostensibly more about the created characters, Aao Kahani Buntay Hain is nonetheless also a story of the talented storytellers. Though never explicit, the couple shares a very strong bond. In some ways, through the camaraderie they share in the process, their marriage is being continually strengthened through this act of telling stories. Both perhaps sublimating their latent anxieties and insecurities into these fictional characters’ actions, while simultaneously looking for solutions in the impossible situations in which they place their characters.
What I absolutely love about this tele-serial is the simplicity with which the stories are told. There is no resort to gimmicks here, no bells or whistles. No exotic locales, no fabulous sets, no camera angles, no fancy lighting, no haunting OSTS, nothing … this is just raw story-telling at its best. All you have here is a fantastic concept, two magnificent actors, compelling stories, and a great director. The sets are innovative, reminiscent of theater sets, relying more on creativity of the designers and the intelligence of the viewers. Director Kanwal Khoosat deserves a huge round of applause for maintaining a very able grip on the various stories being told here. On the one hand this is the story of the created characters, but then on the other hand this is also a story of the story tellers themselves. Unbeknownst to them, much like their characters they too are being watched; we the viewers are looking in on them, like voyeurs through peepholes. Indeed, all the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players… the Bard always did get it right!
Above and beyond all else, Aao Kahani Buntay Hain is a fantastic homage to the brilliant Sania Saeed and the equally superb Nauman Ejaz. This is what being an actor is all about; stripped of all props except their talent, it is a sheer pleasure to see Sania and Nauman breathe life in to all the various characters they create in their capacity as the writer couple. I realize that these kinds of abstract stories are not an easy sell, but even if they don’t appeal to you, or you’re not a fan of the offbeat, more artsy dramas, you should watch at least an episode or two just for these two actors.
After watching something as avant-garde as Aao Kahani Buntay Hain, I always end up feeling sad that our channel heads and producers are so caught up in the race for TRPs that they seem to have lost their souls somewhere along the line. Even though there are about 1001 dramas currently airing, with the exception of Coke Kahani, and to some extent Aik Nayee Cinderella and Tanhaiyan, the rest all revolve around the same three – four formulaic plots. Why is it so hard for a channel to give us at least one hatke drama a week. Surely that’s not asking for too much?!
As I lament about channels and producers, let me not forget Ashk… and who better to give voice to my feelings on this fiasco than the beautifully OTT Salma Agha ashk-ing her heart out
Shayad unka aakhri ho yeh sitam
Har sitam yeh soch kar hum seh gaye …
I watched and I watched and I watched and I watched … till I could watch no more …
Written by SZ~