Zindagi abhi khatam nahin hui
bas faraq yeh hai ke meri dairy mein Allah se shikwey kum hogaye hain
Main ne un cheezon pay raazi hona seekh liya hai jo woh mujhey deta hai
aur un cheezon ki talash chor di hai jo lahasil hein…
Not quite sure how and when Kashaf came to this final realization, but somewhere along the way, towards the end of the final episode, the light bulb switched on and Kashaf’s journey from shikwa to shukrana came to its predictable end – yes, her life was finally gulzar!
While Kashaf might’ve thought her life was all hunky dory, and it did seem pretty perfect in the last few scenes, I am not sure how a strong-headed girl like her was able to look past all of Mr. Zaroon’s mujh se ziyada perfect mard kahin nahin milega rhetoric. I kept waiting for an apology from our uber cool hero sahab but that seemed to have been deep-sixed somewhere in the euphoria of reunion – after all what living breathing female would not want to wake up and find His Hotness Mr. Fawad Khan in her bed!
Before we got to that point though, in what has now become a trademark of this serial, we got a medley of some brilliantly acted and directed vignettes tossed in with some completely random scenes. I’m still trying to figure out the point of showing the actual meeting with Asmara, except to paint Zaroon in an even darker shade of black.
Basically Zaroon got away with talking smack about his wife, so much so that even Asmara pointed out that he was in the wrong. This is the second time that Asmara’s called him out on his hypocrisies, but we still saw no real introspection on Zaroon’s part. Rather, all we got were more of his I’ve-been-wronged and how-dare-my-wife-not-trust-me scenario. Yes, he realized he was in the wrong, but only about hiding the meeting, the rest of his idiocies were all brushed aside. What I missed was a dawning realization that it was not just one thing, but his ingrained chauvinism which lay at the heart of the matter.
On Kashaf’s part as well, we heard a lot of thoughts and lot of shikwas. Yes, she realized she missed Zaroon, she acknowledged she loved him, and she agreed with her mother that he was very caring and affectionate husband. Beyond that however, apart from Rafia saying that Kashaf should not let old insecurities come in the way of her relationship with Zaroon, we never saw any engagement with the real issues that had bothered her, and plagued her marriage with Zaroon all along. I don’t think it was intended that way, but it sure did seem like Kashaf called Zaroon because of her about-to-be-born children. Would she have made the phone call had she not been expecting, or whether Zaroon would’ve come if she hadn’t called, are questions that are now open to discussion.
Nonetheless, Kashaf did make the phone call and Zaroon did come, and I guess that was that. Zindagi became gulzar and we as viewers are supposed to be happy with that. Why spend time on rehashing issues etc… just mitti pao everything. After the hot n heavy reunion, which was filled with a lot of empty sweet-talk and banter, we had another long scene of basically nothingness. Even after having ostensibly made up, Kashaf and Zaroon were back where they had been since day one – each blaming the other for the misunderstanding and fights.
The larger message of the second half of this serial dealt with how petty issues and misunderstandings if let to fester can cause problems between couples. While in principle this was a commendable topic, one rarely addressed in our serials, what came across on the screen was a jumble of brilliantly executed sequences, which when strung together failed to leave an impact. The jump from Zaroon and Kashaf still arguing, about who left whom first, to the final montage of happy family scenes was beyond abrupt. The final scenes with the two girls were very sweet, but could not leave a lasting impression. The lazy pace of the last two episodes, and the first forty-five minutes of this finale as well, made the ending seem really rushed, and left me with an unsatisfied feeling.
Overall, for me Zindagi Gulzar Hai remained a mixed bag which could never really live up to the pre-release hype. Starting off on a great note it failed to maintain its pace. In trying to address too many issues the story lost focus somewhere along the way. Nonetheless, despite its incoherence, issues with timeline, editing bloopers, loose ends, what made me sit through the entire 26 week run were the undoubtedly brilliant performances. Fawad Khan is fantastic and he proved it yet again with this serial. To sell a flawed character like Zaroon, infuse him with so much charm and personality that one could take him so seriously and put with all his idiocies, is a feat few actors could’ve managed, and Fawad accomplished all this with almost effortless ease. Matching him every step of the way, actually outshining him in so many scenes, Sanam was brilliant as Kashaf. Before the serial had aired, not many thought she could stand up to Fawad, but she has silenced all her critics with this outstanding performance.
Among the rest of the stellar cast, Samina Peerzada is fabulous and we all know that, but I really hope that she will take a break from these kinds of roles now. Hina Bayat, another great performer, did the best she could do with a character that remained incomprehensible to me from the first to the last episode. Her partner-in-crime Javed Shaikh was charming as usual, but again his Junaid spoke in a language that was undecipherable to me. Shazia Afghan and Waseem Abbas were memorable. Shazia’s blue eye-shadowed look will stay with me for a while. While all these are veterans and we expect good stuff from them, Ayesha Omar was the surprise package here. I loved all the softness and vulnerability she was able to convey, and her chemistry with Fawad was very real and made for many tender moments, and I missed her in the last episode. Also missed seing Mansha Pasha, I guess Sidra took all our criticism to heart and decided to stay put in the US and not put in a final appearance.
This serial marked Sultana Siddiqui’s return as a director, and there is no doubt that she is fantastic in terms of extracting the best from her actors. Aside from that, I do question her grip over the overall narrative. Many a times there seemed to a lack of vision about where the serial was finally headed, and the first and the second half remained disjointed in terms of pace and story-telling. Shehzad Kashmiri’s cinematography remained top-notch. His tight closeups, in particular, were fantastically done, capturing every nuance, every flicker of emotion that raced across the actors’ faces. In terms of production values, this serial bore the MD Productions stamp, and that alone made this one stand out above many other serials out there.
The editing though did leave a lot to be desired, as did the background score. To come to the story, the foundation of any serial, Umera Ahmed’s script was interesting and had a lot going for it in terms of potential, but the overall execution left a lot to be desired. Hence for me, Zindagi could’ve been gulzar, but fell short of the high expectations we had going in to the serial.
Finally, as we close the book on Zindagi Gulzar Hai, a huge shout out to all the readers and commentators. Whether we agreed or disagreed it was always enjoyable to read all the comments; the at times fierce debates pointed to all our intense involvement in the serial, the characters and their idiosyncrasies. Whether you loved or hated my reviews – thank you all for reading!!
Written by SZ~
Zindagi Gulzar Hai ~ OST