Be careful what you wish for, lest it come true ….
Never has this saying seemed as apt as it did today as apney becharey Aunn and Zara fell from the asmaan and got stuck in the metaphorical khajoor… no matter what they did and what they said, everything backfired as their respective family members failed to bite. Ignoring the hapless couple’s protestations to the contrary, the two families merrily continued with their taiyyaris and bilaakhar hamare chooze ke size ke dimagh waley Aunn sahab ek adad chewing gum chabati biwi ke shohar ban gaye… aap sab ko bohot bohot mubarak ho and can someone pass me those choharas please!
So here’s where we stand now … ek taraf we have the hero sahab who felt so suffocated with the attention being showered on him by the entire khandaan ki khawateen that he saw shaadi as an easy way out, a means of shifting the ladies’ attention away from him onto someone else. Doosri taraf we have apney fauji sahab ki eklauti beti, Zara. Much like her new husband she too boasts of a pea-sized brain, and just like Aunn she too had thought of marriage only in terms of escaping a regimented life and an over-protective father. Once the hypothetical rishta became a reality both the protagonists realized they had not thought through this whole shaadi thing quite as well as they should have. Magar, ab pachtaway kiya howat jab chiryan chug gayeen khet …
Zara’s careless dismissal of her husband’s admittedly bumbling overtures, particularly on a night poets write reams about, indicates very clearly that while on one level she is just the kind of wife Aunn thought he wanted, on the other hand though, this anokha ladla is so used to being the pampered by all his female rishtedars that his new biwi just might prove to be a bitter pill for him to swallow. Zara too is finding herself in a similarly awkward situation. Not having looked beyond Aunn’s loving and sweet family she now finds herself stuck in one bedroom with a man who’s a complete stranger to her, and a family that has already taken sides, ammi ji being the only one on her side. The hilarious wedding night sequence, with Nighat phupo and Daadi jaan eavesdropping ever so intently, sets up the premise beautifully for the coming episodes. New relationships, particularly marriages, are difficult enough to negotiate on their own, but then add in the tarka of a joint family with no concept of personal space and/or privacy and you know there are tons of laughs coming your way in future episodes.
While Aunn Zara is a riot, as the OST tells it the story is thori happy thori sad, and so even as I thoroughly enjoyed Aunn’s nerdy dance moves and smiled at daadi, phupo and chachi’s obvious happiness on the occasion of their beloved Aunn’s shaadi, I could not help but notice that the only person who seemed to holding herself back was Aunn’s mother. Ostensibly smiling and chattering away as much as the others, there is nonetheless something that weighs her down, something that keeps her from laughing openly or dancing as freely as the others. As much as I enjoyed the latest episode, for me the final scene was the most intriguing one. Here we have a woman who has been forced by circumstances to live a lie for a large part of her life. Now, with her son happily married off, can she finally shake off her burdensome past and live life on her own terms? Will her family and the duniya waley allow her the luxury of breathing freely once again?
This blend of thori khushi thora ghum makes Faiza Iftikhar and Haissam Hussain’s Aunn Zara a thoroughly engaging serial. I am really enjoying the brisk pace of story-telling and the witty one-liners. The story is meaningful without being preachy and many important issues are addressed subtly and humorously. Given the way the fabric of our society has been ripped apart in recent times by caste/ethnic/linguistic/social divisions, it is refreshing to see a serial celebrating these very differences in a positive manner rather than playing them up.
In terms of acting, Osman Khalid Butt is the perfect Aunn; his gestures, facial expressions, body language, down to those plaid shirts that he seems to have bought by the dozen, everything is just right. Maya Ali is aptly cute and beautiful, but her Zara so far seems to be an extension of her role in Cinderella, right down to her nail biting. I am hoping we get to see more variety in her expressions as her character plays out further. Actually more than Zara, I’m really enjoying her best friend Shehna. I haven’t seen Mahira Bhatty since her outing in Kuch Pyar Ka Pagalpan so I’m really enjoying her here. The other BFF, Manzar, is so very well-played by Mukarram Kaleem. As if Aunn is not stupid enough on his own, he has an even more idiotic friend in Manzar. The two guys share a fantastic chemistry and their scenes are so much fun to watch – loved their little dance on the roof in the second episode!
Among the senior actors, Adnan Jaffer is great as the rigid army dad, seemingly a hard nut to crack, but a man who willingly bends to ensure his only daughter’s happiness. Irfan Khoosat is his usual impeccable self. The little moment between the makholi daada ji and the salty daadi jaan was such a delight to watch. Sabreen Hisbani as the phupo and the chachi and chacha all have made their presence felt. Above and beyond all though, it is Nasreen Qureshi and Hina Bayat who are the heart and soul of the serial for me – they are fabulous!
Finally, a special shout out to the DOP Ilyas Kashmiri for bring Lahore alive so beautifully for those of us who’ve not have had the pleasure of exploring the nooks and crannies of this historic city. The locations are well-chosen and scenes have been beautifully set up to make the most of the lovely settings. The vibrant tones of stained glass atop the doors in the dining hall where Aunn and Manzar hatch their silly plans, the roof top where they dance, the arched doorways in Aunn’s house all add so much ambiance to the overall look and feel of the serial – very well done team AZ!
Written by SZ~
Aunn Zara ~ Episode 2
Aunn Zara ~ Episode 3