Ullu Baraaye Farokht Nahin – Owls Not For Sale – an intriguing title for sure, but not the kind to get viewers all excited and have them counting down days to its premier – nope this was definitely not one of those. On the other hand, to give them credit, the writer, director and producers should be applauded for having faith in the audience, not giving up on creativity and staying away from depressing titles, which make no bones about the thakan the viewers will feel and the ashks we will shed after going through 23-24 weeks of the endless saga of the mazloom aurat and her daaghs, with no rehaai in sight and no hope of a gulzar zindagi. Right off the bat, therefore, I was inclined to give this one at least one serious dekho. Adding further mirch to the masala was the brilliant OST and the fabulously done promos. The sneak peeks into a feudal rural milieu, very different from the urban settings of our regular serials, the colorful characters, the superbly shot interiors and exteriors, all gelled together really well, and I knew what I would be doing Tuesday evening – watching Ullu Baraaye Farokht Nahin.
Having just watched the first episode, I can happily say that my anticipation was not in vain. Right from the very first shot, two college friends, who for once looked age appropriate, it was easy to get sucked into this world which writer Amna Mufti and director Kashif Nisar seem to have created so effortlessly. Seamlessly moving from the city – a very well done classroom scene of Asiya going gaga over her appropriately drool worthy English Lit Professor – to the rural landscape of interior Punjab, the two tracks were well-knitted and the transition very smooth.
Any discussion of the rural track of the story will remain incomplete without first acknowledging the fantastic haveli in Kasur, Punjab, which, much like Ashar’s house in Humsafar, is as important a character here as any of the other actors. In the gaon, once again, like in the university scenes, the depictions of everyday life and the naturalness with which the actors tackled their characters was quite remarkable. Watching a squatting dhoti clad Nauman Masood dressing a bloodied game bird while carrying on a regular conversation with his maayi baap, Nauman Ijaz reclining on a charpai, while Saleem Mairaj played the flute, was one of those moments that will stay with me for a while.
Without giving away too much, at the heart of it all this is a saga of a long-standing family feud between two landowning brothers, Mir Ghulam Yaqoob Malkana and Mian Sahab. Yaqoob has three daughters, Kaneez Fatima, Nazeer Fatima and Asiya, and one son, Ghulam Fareed. Mian Sahab, the younger brother, had two sons, Ghulam Rasool, who was murdered, Ghulam Ali, and one daughter, Gul-e Rana.
As an opening chapter, the first episode was fast paced and action packed as we got quick insights into each of the character’s layered personalities. The director was particularly successful in laying out the complex web of relationships between the two feuding brothers and their families. Often times such stories are easy to explain on paper, but hard to actually translate on to the screen, but this was really well done here. The writer and director seem to share a similar sensibility, so Amna’s compelling story looks that much more meaningful with the visual narrative backing her words beautifully. The DOP Rashid Abbas deserves special mention for capturing the spirit of the story so well.
Among the actors, Nauman Ijaz owns every role he does, so its no surprise to see him doing well here. Sohail Ahmed is absolutely fabulous. I cannot say enough about the lethal combination of oily hair, surma-ed eyes and facial tics, but to his credit he gives a very controlled performance, keeping OTT-ness strictly in check. The chess scene, where Mian Sahab’s son comes to talk to him about the quarrel between the two brothers was beautifully done. Nauman Masood, Omair Rana and Saleem Mairaj were all very convincing in their parts. Among the ladies, Saba Qamar was good. Irsa Ghazal surprised me with her complete transformation and her power-packed performance. After having seen Hina Bayat in Talkhiyan and Irsa here, one cannot but help but be saddened at the thought of so much talent being wasted in one formulaic story after another. Yamuna is another one who really impressed here. The actress playing the maid servant (sorry don’t know her name!) was also very good.
Overall this was an impressive start. Ullu Baraaye Farokht Nahin holds out the promise of being something different, kuch alag. Looking forward to seeing how this one unfolds!
Written by SZ~
A clip from the OST