Houston, we have a problem…
This line from Tom Hanks’ 1995 classic, Apollo 13, is an apt summation of my feelings after this latest episode. I didn’t think I would ever say this about this much-anticipated serial, but after today I must confess that, for me at least, zindagi is not gulzar.
Five weeks in and were are pretty much where we were after the first couple of episodes. If there were any lingering doubts after the first installment, we can now say for sure that Rafia has been terribly wronged by her husband. Murtaza is nasty and mean, not only towards his first wife, but their daughters as well. This basic fact has been reiterated in so many ways in these past five weeks that I think by now we all get it! Samina Peerzada is magnificent as Rafia, Mansha is fabulous as Sidra and Sana is doing well as Shehnila, but what gets me is that they’ve been talking about the same things since the first episode: nasty abba, electricity bills, household finances, the overstretched monthly budget – can we please get on with it!
Kashaf is directly impacted by all the going-ons in her family. Her attitude towards life in general, and men in particular, has been shaped by what she has observed of her mother’s miserable marital life. She is troubled, insecure and unconfident. Though she has lot of issues against the elite class and minces no words when voicing her thoughts on the subject, at the heart of it all she is envious of the very glamorous Asmara. How could she not be? Asmara has it all – the perfect package – or so it seems to Kashaf. Though she professes to hate Zaroon, there is a part of Kashaf that desires his attention. She keeps looking at herself and comparing herself to Asmara. Sanam is doing a great job as Kashaf, prickly on the exterior but very soft and easily hurt on the inside. The scene where she is alone with her thoughts at night, and reflects on Zaroon and Asmara’s conversation was very poignant and beautifully done. Unlike the writer and director’s OTT approach to Rafia, Murtaza, Ghazala, Asmara, and Sara’s characters, Kashaf’s is the most well-etched character in this serial. She is very balanced in terms of how human she is – she gets angry, happy, envious, sad, frustrated, much like the rest of us. Sadly though, with big gaps in the university track, many a times Kashaf loses the plot and comes across as completely irrational.
So far, apart from the one churail awal scene, we have not been shown any direct confrontations between Zaroon and Kashaf. This lack of onscreen interaction between our protagonists dulled the impact of the much-anticipated fiery classroom debate. What should have been a phenomenal scene was rendered into a lukewarm moment, much like a playground spat between two irrational children. We have been provided with no logical reason for why Kashaf hates Zaroon so much. Yes, we get that Kashaf hates men and is not a fan of the elite class, but to have such a visceral reaction to a comment by someone who has not said much to her seemed really strange. More so, if we take into account that she’s been the one who’s been rude to him throughout, her diatribe seemed completely unnecessary and very much out of place, and yes, very personal indeed. I so wish that rather than those endless Rafia/Murtaza scenes in the previous episodes, we’d been shown some more of Zaroon/Kashaf interactions, which would’ve helped contextualize this debate much better.
This is Zaroon and Kashaf’s story, but instead of focusing on them we are spending so much time on Zaroon and Asmara’s relationship. Throughout this episode, Asmara kept repeating the same things ad nauseam. Like a broken record she went on and on about mangni, shaadi, girlfriends – wow does this woman need a life!! But then again, if Asmara annoys him so much why does Zaroon call her his best friend? Why does he miss her if she doesn’t talk to him for two days? Together they’re both annoying, going around in circles – can’t we just be done with this track?
Apart from giving off a strong been-there-done-that vibe, this episode also seemed off in a number of other ways. Durr-e Shehwar’s track was playing in the background during many of the scenes. In terms of continuity, Zaroon was wearing a navy blue Nike t-shirt when talking with his sister at home, the next day he shows up at the university wearing the same t-shirt. Similarly, Zaroon and Asmara’s clothes changed on their way back from their “dinner-date.” Another thing which struck me as odd was Zaroon criticizing Asmara’s dressing towards the end. His censure was supposed to be an illustration of his “conservative” mindset, but it came off as unconvincing. From where I was seeing it, other than the blindingly bright colors, her outfit seemed just as appropriate or inappropriate as what she wore every day. Was he just annoyed because Osama commented on it?
Overall, I was disappointed by this latest episode. Though the story holds out promise and the performances continue to be fabulous, the emphasis on every other relationship except that of the lead pair, the constant reiterations and the snail’s pace of the narrative are turning into major irritants. Here’s to hoping for a better episode next week!
Written by SZ~