Tanhaiyan Naye Silsilay n Coke Kahani ~ An Overview

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Our dramas pride themselves on being issue based and rightly so – majority of our serials are in some shape or form an explicit or implicit social critique, highlighting the various ills plaguing our society. The problem aajkal though is that 99% of these serials revolve around the issue of gharelu masley masa’il, i.e., pyaar, shaadi, bacchey, saas, bahu, bekaar behen, etc …  bas in se aagay kuch nahin. 

Standing apart from the routine stuff are Coke Kahani and Tanhaiyan Naye Silsilay. Different yet similar, these two make for an interesting comparison. To begin with, both have 13 episodes – a heartfelt thank you to whoever is responsible for this! Moreover, both are far from being the routine masley masai’l serials. Yes they have maslaas and tons of them, but they are dealt with in very different and, more importantly, creative ways. There are biwis and shohars in both these serials, but again they are thora hat ke. Asfand and Maya are estranged, but their relationship is not the be all and end all of Coke Kahani. Similarly, Sania is unmarried, but the Tanhaiyan in the title is not a reference to her bachelorette status. Nusrat-Mutma’in and Aani-Faran are as far as can be from the typical bored retired TV couples, who derive immense pleasure from interfering in other people’s lives. Yes like others, there is pyar mohabbat in both serials as well, but again thori alag, thori squeet. The big thing that ties these two serials together is their humorous undertone. In a time where almost every drama is trying to one up the other on the boatloads of tears shed – these two serials stand out for their ability to coax a smile from the most jaded viewer.

In terms of relationships portrayed, both go beyond the usual ghar ki chaardiwari. In Coke Kahani, Zoya has cousins, friends and friends of friends helping her with the renovations of her father’s failing restaurant. We also see extended family in the form of Nusrat and Mutmai’n and their tenant. The ensemble cast of Coke Kahani is in great form here. Its fabulous to see the way the writers, Mohammad Ahmed and Yasir Rana, have knitted these relationships together, keeping various tracks apart yet together. A beautiful story, this one cuts across social divides and ethnic boundaries.  MJ then takes the visual narrative to a whole other level, the story telling interspersed with shots of the bustling city of Karachi. The slice of life visuals are a touch of genius, firmly grounding the story in cosmopolitan Karachi, a mini Pakistan – home to people of all stripes and hues, not just a particular sect or group. The superb cinematography and slick editing come together beautifully to give us the signature glossy look of Coke Kahani.

Likewise in Tanhaiyan Naye Silsilay, we see not just the nuclear family of Aani, Faran and Sania, but also the well-etched characters of Bibi and Chandni. With Zain, Zenia and Serena’s arrival there are quite a few characters here. And as if these are not enough, we get Qabacha and his son Iltumish. Add to that Mona and her coworker at the Youth Center and last but not least Zarak Khan, we have a full house. But again, here too Mohammad Ahmed weaves these characters with great skill and Marina Khan breathes life into this complex web of purane and naye silsilay with great style. For most part the cast, an interesting mix of youth and experience, is giving an excellent account of themselves. The only exception here is the very charming but relatively inexperienced Shehryar Munawar. Though better in shorter sequences, he falls apart in the longer scenes and many a great moments are destroyed because of his inability to emote effectively.

Though Coke Kahani and Tanhaiyan Naye Silsilay boast very different story lines they share similar concerns. Both promote cultural values, depict strong familial bonds, and both, Coke Kahani explicitly and Tanhaiyan implicitly, are concerned about the prevailing law and order situation in Pakistan. We see Maya as so traumatized by the conditions that she fled to Florida six years ago. Even now when she’s back, she cannot help but worry about Zoya’s safety. In Tanhaiyan, Zenia’s biggest concern about living in Pakistan is the lack of security. Her close encounter with Pakistanis of the daaku kind, has only strengthened this fear. What I like here, is that rather than just pointing to problems we are also shown solutions. Zarak Khan, for instance, is also bothered by similar frustrations, but rather than fleeing, he chooses to fight by building schools in tribal areas. Similarly, Sania runs a Youth Center, where presumably she helps the younger generation choose the right options for their future life. The message here is that educating our populace and providing them with viable job opportunities is the only way forward. Coke Kahani too is all about empowering the youth. The future is in their hands – whether they choose to litter Pakistan’s streets with empty soda bottles or opt for cleaning the same streets is now up to them.

More importantly, though highlighting problems, these serials do not dwell on doom and gloom, neither do they wait till the last episode to show a resolution. In Coke Kahani, Zoya and Rayan have already found a sponsor and are now eagerly working towards getting Alfonso back on its feet. Perhaps Jugnu will now think twice before running off to Germany. Zarak too has managed to convince Zenia to give life in Pakistan one fair shot. It would have been so much easier for him to have moved abroad and lived a comfortable life with her, but as he says there is no point in talking the talk if one cannot walk the walk. Building a few schools in a remote area is perhaps a very small step in the long drawn battle against the endemic problems plaguing our country, but, as Malala Yusufzai has shown us, this is a battle we have to fight together as a nation, one individual at a time.

Irrespective of how these serials fare in the incomprehensible race for TRPs, I as a viewer am thoroughly enjoying this break from the routine. Thank you Team CK and Team TNS for the breath of fresh air. I hope that rather than being one-offs, these serials are part of a new trend of something different something hat ke … Fingers crossed!

CK1

Written by SZ~

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17 replies

  1. I couldn’t agree more! Both the serials are a breath of fresh air. 13 episodes are too little for these awesome plays. All I hope is that there is something more coming up! Kudos to team TNS and Team CK! And also Congratulations to the newly married couple, Shahroze and Syra, or rather Serena and Kishmish! 🙂

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  2. oh SZ why do you spoil us so!!!!!! You got me all emotional with this overview/review :*) Thank you once again for speaking from your heart. I wholeheartedly agree with you.

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  3. Aww brilliant 2 in 1 review SZ….loved it!! Loving both of these, enjoyed them a lot this week. A very subtle blend of issues and humor….just perfect! Might I add Syra Yusuf is doing fab in both, she sure does pick the good ones!!

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  4. You’re so right about these two serials being hat ke. Thank God for some good work being done. If I had to choose between the two- I’d take Coke Kahani!

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  5. Again a wonderful overview,As Annie says you have been spoiling is rotten , I am getting so used to your brilliant stuff. I simply love Coke Kahani ,Tanhiyan has it ups and down but yes both are different not run of the mill. There humour is what sets them apart. So right both have fast track story line developments we don’t have to wait for ages to see something happening.And no dose of misery i can’t ask for much more 😀

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  6. I too agree these two dramas are simply outstanding. They have that essence of Pakistani dramas that was missing for so long.Finally MJ and MArina brought it back.TNS in Zarak Khan they are showing a rarely shown pathan similarly in C in Ruqaiyya we see a mi9nority that ecist in Karachi but are rarely shown,Though i do disagree with Serene here i find Qabacha “SKWEET” instead of iltitmish 😀

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  7. Caught up on both of these today and believe me, I felt the same….everything you said echoes ‘The bechari Pakistani viewers’ thoughts’. The characters are lively, confident and beautifully penned. They have their fair share of problems yet they deal with them differently. Less glycerine used! Yay for us;)

    I could not help but fall for this episode of Coke Kahnai. Every scene had me laughing my head off. How cute of Asfand to say it is Lehsan not lassan :p Finally we have ‘Coca Cola’ sponsoring the restaurant. Ironic!

    Here is a huge Thankyou to the writers and the directors of these two serials.

    p.S loved the pictures of Syra’s wedding. FK made it to the shaddi too. No wonder I am so excited!

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  8. Thank you all for watching CK and writing about it and reviewing it! It will be interesting to see once it’s all said and done how this kind of series was received regardless of the ratings game. It’s a crazy time in the industry with everyone going insane after the Turks 🙂 hahaha..don’t know quite what to make of that hysteria. My view is that I just hope that because these Turkish or Indian soaps are bought cheaply (because they are syndicated) our own industry doesnt start cutting costs and expecting Pakistani dramas to be made in the same price. But I think that won’t happen and that this trend is temporary..I also feel that this argument of ‘cultural invasion’ is ridiculous. Anyway, don’t know why I went off on this tangent. 🙂 Again, thanks for watching and commenting.

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    • Hey Mahreen firstly congrats Coke Kahani is just a fantastic serial i cannot sing enough praises of all the hard work you guys have put into it. It is just very different the cinematography,lights,camera work and of course your direction. Thank you for bringing such an amazing product to our screens . On the syndication issue yes i can see this can be a major issue for our local market as syndicated serials are way too cheaper and much easily accessed. If you people have to cut down your prices against them that can be a serious issue. We want our people to have thriving environment to work in where they can have good salary structures rather then to have cut costs ,this will mean talented bunch might move away.If you think this is a temporary trend then i trust your judgment as you must know much better than any of us, however the way there is so much hype in the media right now about the issue the daily/weekly articles in Dawn/ET and so many others it has grabbed the attention of almost every one.It has itself become a phenomena a study of our society what people actually see in such plays,why do they gravitate towards them?

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  9. Thanks guys, wasn’t sure how this one would go down because it wasn’t a regular review, but I’m glad you enjoyed this twofer! 🙂

    @Heela and Ruba: yes! CK was fab this week, love the attention to detail and dialogues that create humor out of everyday language. The inclusion of various linguistic, ethnic and religious minorities is wonderful. I hope our audiences can learn from this message of accommodating and appreciating differences.

    LOL @Ruba! I agree! I love both, but if both are in the same frame then I too find Qabacha senior much more skweet!!!! 😀 😀

    @Annie: thanks for sharing the pics! Lovely to see the couple, and isnt it great to see Syra looking so “normal” and fresh – unlike the over done brides we usually get to see!

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  10. A lovely way to put it! loved your 2 in 1 review of the two dramas which are indeed very similar yet very different, with a similar message and its not even that saas bahu, mazloom aurat one! 😉
    Yay for a change.

    Really enjoyed both episodes as the stories are really fast paced.

    This week in CK , they finally get the sponsor for the restaurant and things will start moving soon enough
    The sparks btw Asfand and Maya are quite evident,. Hopefully they can work out their differences at least for the sake of their child. and grow old together like the funnest elderly couple on tv, Mutmain and Nusrat!
    Btw is dramay mai sab apni muhabbat ka izhar khayolon mai hi kyun karte hain, even though its funny especially with Beydil, but aren’t Rukaya and Saad bachpan ke dost? the guy should tell her how he feels! 🙂 On a side note, love her accent and gujrati and her hidden talent; Singinig!

    TNS – we can finally move away from the passport scene and move on to bigger and better things. Qabacha saves the day and everyone is happy again. Talk about an emergency engagement, i thought they came to discuss Zarak and Zenia more like a baat pakhi but things were even faster then that, and they decided to do an engagement. This is what you call good story telling. Usually we have to deal with one episode of baat pakhi, another of mangni followed by three other episodes for the wedding.
    Now hoping to never hear about that passport again, kahin sar mar jai and instead of complaining about the issues she is scared of how about work to find a solution for them with her fiance who , well seems like is trying to make a difference with all the schools and stuff he has going on.

    However the engagement / wedding i am waiting for is of Kishmish – Serena and ahem ahem Qabacha and Saniya , although looks like a solid no from Saniyas side but fingers crossed ke Bibi ke wasifas work some magic! =\

    But at the end of the day, both of these dramas are def the more hat ke, the dramas with the better message that hopefully the audience can see and use them as an eye opener to start making A difference! 🙂

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