Sannata ~ Episodes 1-4 ~ Review

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Sannata – silence… a cold, dark stillness that makes itself felt not only on the outside, but the kind that seeps deep within, touching the inner recesses of the soul as well – is the latest offering from Nauman Masood’s iDream Entertainment production house. Written by Saji Gul and directed by Kashif Nasir, Sannata boasts a strong lineup of actors, included among them: Samina Ahmed, Nadia Afgan, Saba Qamar, Adnan Shah Tipu, Saleem Mairaj, Nargis Rashid, Simi Raheal, Shabbir Jan, Sajal Ali, Danish Taimoor, Mehar Bano, and others.  

Sannata is the story of the very complicated relationship between two cousins, Ruqqaiya and Pari. Born under adverse circumstances, and very nearly thrown out of the house at her birth, Pari has been brought up almost like a daughter by her first cousin, Ruqqaiya. Though at the time Ruqqaiya was barely more than a child herself, but watching her grandmother’s cruel rejection of an innocent newborn stirred something deep within her. While her own own mother and the trusted family help could only watch on helplessly, young Ruqqaiya somehow found the courage to defy Apa Bi’s orders and take on the care of her infant cousin, with no comprehension of the immense burden she had taken on her very young shoulders.

Like Ruqqaiya, I too was aghast at the way the stone-hearted Apa Bi treated the newborn, but when looking back we see a woman who has suffered tremendously. Though she comes across as cold and unfeeling to those around her, she is far from unaffected by the going-ons around her. The slight pursing of her lips, an unnoticeable stiffening of her back, the grudging granting of permission, allowing Ruqqaiya to raise Pari, all point to a once soft woman who has over time become hardened by life’s tribulations. Now a widow, Apa Bi lost her husband and only son all the same day when they went in pursuit of the runaway Husna, Apa Bi’s youngest daughter and Pari’s mother.

Growing up in the shadow of deep hatred on the one hand and over indulgent affection on the other is the young Pari. A sharp, sassy girl with a mind of her own, Pari is no victim. She gives it as good as she gets it. But underneath the sharp tongue and quick temper is a very lost child. Looking to find an anchor to shore herself in a very dark world, she latches on to Ruqqaiya and refuses to let her go. With time Ruqqaiya becomes the be all and end of all her very narrow world. Now that time has come for Ruqqaiya to get married, both girls finds themselves at a loss. Ruqqaiya knows once she leaves Pari will be left to Apa Bi’s whims. For Pari, the matter is more dire, the thought of a life without Ruqqaiya is unimaginable. This mental turmoil leads to Pari having epileptic seizures.

Caught between all these strong-willed women is Salma. A much gentler person, she is the one who keeps the family running, but is so meek and lost in her own pain-filled world that it is almost easy to forget that she is around. Taken for granted and often trampled over, she is dumped on by both her mother and her daughter. Naseeban, the family maid, is the other woman in the household, and she not only serves as the family’s connection to the outer world, but more often than not is also called upon to mediate tiffs and arguments between Apa Bi, Ruqqaiya and now that she’s grown up, Pari.

Given that the household is populated by largely uneducated, stay at home women, it is no surprise that they make perfect unsuspecting preys for the savvy swindlers in the family – enter Ashfaq & Co. While Ashfaq’s character was easy enough to read, but now thanks to handy-dandy spoilers on the Sannata FB page, I know for sure what Ashfaq is up to and how he fits in to the larger narrative. Same goes for Danish Taimoor and Tipu’s characters. Yes, the Sannata FB page has made a complete hash of the next few episodes as their spoilers give away a chunk of the story. How I wish ARY would curb this tendency of theirs asap!

That said, I have to say I enjoyed these first four episodes of Sannata. The story might not be entirely novel, but I am enjoying the way it is unfolding. Saba Qamar’s soliloquies are beautifully written, delivered, and shot, a much more innovative way of opening a window into the past. Saji Gul’s characters are beautifully textured; the web of relations is woven such that there are no clearly defined centers and peripheries. Each and every character is important in its own right and has its own story to tell. Just like he did with Ullu Baraye Farokht Nahin, here too Kashif Nisar tells the story very effectively, creating a world where these characters live and breathe. The DOP uses the fantastic Murree setting and the old haveli to add a much needed ambiance to the story. Among the scenes that really stood out in the past couple of episodes, were the ones with the bird-catcher, where he releases bird after bird as a fascinated Ruqqaiya watches in awe. Another scene, the trek to the dargah was beautifully captured.

On the dargah scene, while I loved the use of the classic Amir Khusro qawwali, and really enjoyed this Sahir Ail Bagga version on its own merit, I think it was more apt for a Coke Studio episode rather than for Sannata. For me, the modern fusion version did not jibe well with the overall classical feel of the story. In terms of acting, this is Samina Ahmed at her brilliant best and Nadia Afgan is fabulous as Salma, although the two together remind me of their joint outing in Dil Mohalley ki Haveli. Similarly watching Saba Qamar and Saleem Mairaj took me back to Ullu Baraye Farokht Nahin. I kept expecting Irsa Ghazal and Nauman Ejaz to pop out of some corner of the old haveli. Sajal Ali is effective as Husna/Pari and Nargis Rasheed is the perfect Naseeban. While these are all experienced actors and we expect them to perform well, I was really impressed by Arisha Razi’s performance and that of the child star playing the young Pari. Such a pleasure to see these young actors do so well. Kudos to Kashif Nisar for extracting such performances from these youngsters.   

Overall, Sannata has started off on a strong note and here’s to hoping it maintains this momentum till the end.

Written by SZ~

Sannata ~ OST
Sannata ~ Zee Haal-i Miskeen ~ Qawwali
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22 replies

  1. Wow review!! Watched back to back 4 episodes and totally enjoyed it… The starting scene with Saba Qamar was so well shot and acted..running parallel the visuals too were creepy… Loved it.. Sajal Ali as husna was terrifying yet very impactful, specially her delivery scene was other one i liked. Nargis Rashid once again was truly amazing.. Her chemistry with younger ruqaiya was awesome… Nadia Afghan my absolute favourite..her even serious ‘astaghfars’ were too cute and last but not the least Samina Ahmed whether its funky and cool nani in baraat series or this apaa bee… She was classic.. It was interesting to see how story was unfolding.. The haveli added perfect ambiance to this dark subject.. Younger pari was really great… She was cute yet dangerous at same time.

    Thankyou for giving that qawali link.. I really liked it 🙂 and lol on it rather being used in coke studio.. Im totally hooked to this one and once again credit goes to you for recommendation 🙂

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  2. SZ , loved reading your review .
    I’m thoroughly enjoying this serial , the only one I look forward to nowadays because the rest are so mediocre.
    Loved the sassy pari and how she harassed that boy ,maza aa gaya !!!

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  3. Very well written as usual SZ ! I always wanted to watch “ullu baraye farokht nahi”but somehow never got time for it but I sure am not gonna miss this one.Sajjal ali (i dont know why I dont like her )but I have to say she was reallly impressive as pari.Infact the duo Saba and Sajjal very well fit into ruqaiiya and pari’s shoes.This one surely is different from others.btw can u please share the ink of sannata official page on fb?

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  4. I was waiting for your review on this serial SZ & now I am going to watch this drama….. Thanks can u recomend me few more past plays since i have’nt watched fo so long……. Even teledramas plz ….. thank for ur sincere reviews…..

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    • I was waiting for your review on this serial SZ & now I am going to watch this drama….. Thanks can u recomend me few more past plays since i have’nt watched fo so long……. Even teledramas plz ….. thank for ur sincere reviews…..

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      • @Annie: I will wait to read what you thought of this one 🙂

        I responded to your query re: teledramas in the ghoonghat thread… and as for TV dramas, I personally enjoyed Talkhiyan, Coke Kahani, Bilquees Kaur, Daam, Mera Naseeb, Dastaan, Humsafar, Sher-e Zaat, Aunn Zara, Tanhaoyan Naye Silsilay . and there are are many others.. what kind of stories do you enjoy?
        I;m sure our other friends can help out here as wellby suggesting some of their favorites a well.

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      • My favs: Bilquis Kaur & Kuch Piyar Ka Pagalpan Bhi Tha, if u like something light..
        If ur up for watching with box of tissue next to u, I absolutely loved Mataejan hai tu. Being a mum, I just felt it touched my weakest point everytime i heard jan le meri jan,meri jan hai tu..( oh im teary again!) Many ppl found it too slow but ive watched it 4 times now and cried more each time.. each dialogue meant so much more..
        Qaid-e-tanhai and meri zaat hai zarra benishan.. brilliant story telling/ mystery, great productions.
        Tele film: its prob not as classy as ghoonghat but i really enjoyed this Yeh Kon sa dyar hai : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4xYRpf1HqDQ

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  5. this one looks promising. Thanks for the review SZ!
    I don’t think I can sit through a depressive drama for 22 weeks. I tried watching UBFN but left it because it was too intense and fatalistic. When you want 30 minutes of entertainment after a long day, you don’t want to watch people killing each other 😦 Nothing good on Pak tv these days which can provide a balance of a good story and light entertainment.

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    • @Annie: agreed that this is dark… I will hang with it for a bit more, since it started off on a strong note … baqi dekhtey hain where it takes us…
      Are you watching Shuk?
      I found that too be interesting.. nothing new abt it, but still good timepass.. I should hopefully have the review up tonight.

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  6. Thanks for the review.
    I had seen a still ad and the dains image seemed like the freaky lady out of the movie ”The Ring”.. I wasn’t sure if i could digest a horror Pakistani drama.
    After I saw ur post, I decided to take the plunge.. I really enjoyed the first couple of episodes. It was a relief to see it wasn’t (supernatural) horror as per say, but a drama portraying the horror touching human lives. I loved the witty/intellectual approach..I was intrigued by the mystery, and loved the eeriness. But I think that ended there.. The mystery was solved and I lost my interest. Looking at the promos, it seems like it will develop into a sister/cousin rivalry theme.. I just love Samina Ahmed! but unfortunately I usually find Sajjal and Saba Qamar a bit unbearable… sorry! and certainly can’t take any more of sister rivalry! I think i will wait for this to finish and might just gulp the lot in two days..(like I usually do lol) but I don’t think I can hack it for 22 weeks either! …
    Watched dil mohallay ki haveli recently.. I had my issues with it but I thoroughly enjoyed Sarmad’s witty dialogues and the mystery which was unearthed bit by bit. Unfortunately, I can’t see the same momentum going with this..

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    • @FA: I totally hear you about the inability to digest a Pakistani horror drama – have you seen Woh? I watched the first couple of episodes and couldn’t take it any more!
      Re Sannata: I found these opening episodes to be strong ones … and yes the promos show it as a sisters rivalry, but Im hoping ther is much more to it .. since we do still have a MIA father and Tipu Shah’s presence addsin another intriguing element … so I’m hoping that it lives up to the promise of these episodes… lets see …

      And LOL! no need to be sorry! Like you I too find Sajal to be usually unbearable and and Saba goes up and down …. but Saba is good in Ullu Baraye Farokht Nahin .. have you seen that one? It written by Amna Mufti, the writer of Dill Mohalley, and directed by the same dir Kashif Nisar.

      Yes, Dil Mohalley was/is enjoyable .. I am behind on that one, but will catch up on it soon.

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      • @SZ I saw the promo for Woh and it was enough to put me right off ..lol
        Re Sannata: you are right.. I might just give it a go..After posting mu comment I saw promos on their fb page.. I guess there is more to it than that.. but I’m not sure if I can deal with any more of Sajjals madness..shes always doing these lunatic roles! I just know I won’t be following it religiously like Numm..
        I think I mentioned this before, I usually watch the whole series once its finished. Numm was the first after many years.. and then I caught up on a couple more that u mentioned. I was waiting for Ullu barai farokht nahin to finish.. it looks good.. I think last episode tonight.. will be watching that next..

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  7. SZ, the production houses should contact you before launching there product as your review can bring them audiences in flocks !! I would have never watched this show if I didn’t read your review 🙂 I saw it back to back and honestly speaking so far I couldn’t find any major loop holes or annoying bits ( yet ) Saba Qamar is a good actor but not my favourite but non the less she is at her best here along with all the other ladies , even the young Pari was a show stealer … A very well executed serial , story might not appeal every one but I liked it . Couldn’t hold my tears in so many places . Sajjal is turning out to be a good performer with great potential . Thank you for recommending !

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    • @Sheema: so true about SZ’s review can really do wonders..well atleast like you i too followed her recommendation and found it very interesting:)

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  8. I partly agree with the review of Sannata. It has the same mood which one feels while reading great expectations or little Dorrit by Chales Dickens. Since it is one of the cruelest and shocking stories, it is quite painful to watch.
    Besides, it is full of Shirk which is one of the biggest sins. Therefore, I would rather call it “the Mushrakeen”. Although there is depth in it more or less, still the further proceedings of the story can be easily predicted. It will for sure have a terrible ending. Pari will most probably die in the end.
    The way Ruqqaiya has be approaching Azam is quite inappropriate and cheap. Azam is interested in Ruqqaiya and will according to promo try to heal Pari.Pari will define his attention as “love”.

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  9. Hey SZ, i decided to give this drama a try, bc I was looking to see something different and I missed Saba Qamar, hadnt seen her in a while. This drama has an incredible cast! I’m definitely intrigued. Up to episode 4. I didnt want to read any spoilers so thought I’d ask you, is this story going to have alot about the paranormal, as in jinns/saiyas/ghosts whatever it may be??? I like different, not so much creepy scary.

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    • Hello!!! Long time! I thought you’d forgotten me 😢
      No nothing of the sort at all… It’s a very different kind of a story, very metaphysical in a way … And if you read through the detailed term paper like comments everybody wrote, it was so intense that every word represented a world of ideas.. Watch it slowly and absorb it and pay attention to the words, the language used to fully appreciate it .. Would love to read your take 🙂

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